National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Aaron would like to work and play a leadership role in a company that provides robotics solutions to many people across the globe, not only to those who are wealthy and well off.

Aaron is studying mechatronics engineering at Stellenbosch University. He matriculated at Northern Cape High School on Kimberley, Northern Cape Province.


“The world we live in today requires us to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. These are skills that can be developed and can be used for the betterment of our society.”


Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you? What inspires you?

I was born on the 5th of July 2004. I used to live with both my parents, my brother, and grandparents. Currently I am a first-year student studying mechatronics engineering at Stellenbosch University. In my free time, I love watching videos about the latest technological innovations and spending time with my friends. I am inspired by my parents. They have selflessly worked for many years to provide for me and my family. They have been the absolute best role models for me and my brother. My mother and father have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and become the best version of myself.

Where did you complete your schooling?  Tell us about this school and your teachers

I completed my secondary education at Northern Cape High School (NCH for short) in Kimberley. High school was one of the most memorable phases of my life. The school has both male and female students. My favourite year at school was most definitely my matric year. This is quite possibly due to the responsibilities I had as the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of our school, which enabled me to interact with everyone at my school to a greater extent. It was more challenging as I had a lot on my plate, especially the fact that I had to balance my academics and my leadership responsibilities. The highlight of the school for me was the people I was surrounded by, especially my teachers. All my teachers were always so friendly and helpful towards me and I owe a great part of my success in academics to my teachers. Teachers with whom I’ve never been in class with were even wishing me all the best and were offering me help for my exams. My time at Northern Cape High is definitely one that I hold dearly to my heart.

Although it was not a school, I also attended MSLA (the Maths and Science, Leadership Academy). MSLA played a vital role in developing me as a person.

Why did you choose the course you are studying?

From a young age, I have always been fascinated by the world of engineering. I made the decision to study engineering one day when I was in Grade 4. On one random day, I came across a documentary on Robotics and AI and how it was going to revolutionise this world. The documentary helped me to realise the large potential AI and robotics had to solve many of the world’s problems. I instantly took an interest in robotics and wanted to enter the field. After some research I came across mechatronics engineering, which is a field in engineering that has elements of both mechanical and electronics engineering. I instantly took a liking to the field as it was the best degree I could do to enter the field of robotics.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I see myself working in a leadership position within a company that provides robotics solutions to many people across the globe, not only to those who are wealthy and well off. As I believe that every successful person is obliged to serve the community around them, I also see myself contributing to building the community around me and helping the underprivileged.

Why do you enjoy science and maths?

I grew up in a science household. Both my parents were in the teaching field, specialising in physics and chemistry. Listening to their conversations about the subject from a very young age caused me to develop a great interest in the subject.

I find mathematics to be a very interesting subject. Most of our lives revolve around mathematics and we use maths in our daily lives, even though we do not realise it. I enjoy maths because of stimulating it is. I love to spend time solving tough problems, and the satisfaction after solving such problems cannot be explained.

Why do you think some people have problems doing well in maths and science?

There is a perception among people that mathematics and science are very difficult subjects. This mindset causes people to struggle with the subjects. If you sit down to complete a task with the perception that it is very difficult, you are most likely to give up and not complete it. Learners who believe maths and science are very difficult, will not try their absolute best to excel in the subjects, and will not put in extra effort. That extra effort is what differentiates people between those who do well in maths and science, and those who do not do well.

What advice do you have for school learners who struggle with these subjects?

Put in every ounce of effort you have to do better in the subject. If you are struggling with a problem, spend time on it and do not give up easily. You should not have the mindset that maths and science is very difficult. Set aside time for you to work on these subjects and make sure that you make academic progress in this time.

Any tips for learners in grades 11 and 12?

Learn how to manage your time efficiently, balancing your academics with other things you enjoy doing. Time management is a very crucial skill that you need to have and one that you will need further on in life.

Another tip I can give you is to do everything you have in your power not to fall behind in work. Grades 11 and 12 are the most crucial years of your school career, and these two years may very well shape the rest of your life. It is very hard to completely catch up with work if you fall behind. Avoid procrastination and get into the habit of completing your current tasks immediately.

What advice do you have for matriculants who must apply for places in higher education institutions?

Make sure you know exactly what you want to study and where you will be studying. Avoid having any doubt in your mind as the absence of doubt will put you at ease about your future.

Also make sure that your documents are in order and are organised. Write down exactly when applications open and when they close, so you do not miss the application window. And finally, apply to as many higher education institutions as possible. You are not guaranteed to be accepted into your first choice, so it would be wise to have a backup plan.

Understanding excellence – what makes an achiever?

For me, an achiever is anyone who achieves a goal they have set for themselves. These goals can be as small as working out at the gym one day, or even landing your dream job. We’re all achievers as we all have accomplished at least one goal in our life. An achiever is someone who is persistent and will not let anyone stop them from achieving their goals. Once they have achieved their goals, they will share their knowledge onto others to enable them to become achievers too.

A message to South African youth in general?

We are incredibly blessed to live in such a beautiful country. Yes, there are large problems in South Africa, but the problems are not any that can’t be solved. We as the youth have the responsibility of taking our country into the next era. It’s easy to blame our predecessors for the problems we face in our country, but coming up with solutions is the hard part. The world we live in today requires us to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. These are skills that can be developed and can be used for the betterment of our society.

If you had ONE opportunity to speak directly to a very influential person, who would you choose and what would you say to them?

I would choose to speak with Bill Gates. He is one of the most prominent figures in the technological world and has accomplished his goal to put a computer in almost every home. Each year, he donates billions to fighting diseases throughout the world and is determined to solve many of the world’s problems.

I would love to ask him about the amount of work he had to put in to reach the level of success he is at now. I also want to discuss with him on his ventures on solving many of the world’s problems, especially on his journey to finding a solution to malaria.


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