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“Civil Engineering has been my passion ever since I was a child. I have always had an enthusiasm for construction and curiosity of how structures were built and designed. This has led me to want to study Civil Engineering from a young age, “ said Shivek Singh.

The jubilant Singh has obtained the Dean’s Merit Award in his studies and will be graduating with his Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Civil Engineering at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) 2024 Autumn Graduation ceremony, taking place at the Olive Convention Centre on 20 May 2024. 

On obtaining a Dean’s Merit Award for academic excellence, at first, he was not fully convinced that he could achieve an award of such a high level.

“I was shocked, in disbelief and definitely had second thoughts if it was really me achieving this. However, as it grew on me, I became excited and thrilled. I was extremely happy that all my studying has paid off and I’m grateful that I can achieve such an award,” he beamed.

Singh, who comes from Verulam, began his study journey for the Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Civil Engineering in 2021 when the world was still in lockdown due to the global pandemic. He then found out that his first year would be mainly online, and initially feared the thought of studying such a difficult course at home. However, he soon adapted to the new form of studying and really enjoyed his first year of study. In the latter half of the first year, he had an on-campus module, surveying where he had to go to the amazing Steve Biko campus where he had met his lecturers and some of his best friends. 

“In my second year of studies, we moved back to fully being on campus and this is where I struggled. I struggled to adapt to the long campus hours and studying the way I did at home. The misunderstanding of certain concepts due to online learning also affected me and I did have to go back and relearn some of the work. I did see a decline academically in the first semester of my second year of studies, even though I had been trying really hard. I was determined to keep my results up, so in the second semester I had tried really hard, trying to grasp everything I could from my lecturers, and to understand work better from external sources such as non-prescribed textbooks,” he relayed. 

In his third year of studies, Singh was determined to work the hardest. He went all out and had the longest study hours, on some days for 16 hours a day. His peers had started to wonder if he was mentally okay, but he was just determined to do the best he could in university. “I achieved a distinction in every module in the first semester of the third year. I was really proud of myself for achieving distinctions in 11 out of 12 modules in my third year and a total of 21 distinctions in my degree,” he remarked proudly.

Singh is currently studying for his honours in Structural Engineering and is looking forward to learning and discovering more about the world of Civil Engineering. 

“I’m a firm believer that in the engineering world you can never stop learning and I wish to always learn and grow my knowledge. I also do want to further my knowledge in other Civil Engineering programmes such as Civil 3D, Revit, Civil Designer and much more as I am to be more involved in the structural part of civil engineering,” he said. 

Every journey is not without challenges as described by Singh, some of the challenges he had faced was the difficulty of some of the modules in the course which were extremely difficult. He overcame this by always trying to get the best understanding that he could of the concepts being taught and tested.

“ I didn’t aim for the marks, I aimed for the understanding, and that definitely paid off. I struggled with the long campus days that we had, sometimes going home past 18h00 and having the energy to study afterwards was also a struggle. Even after some long and mentally draining days on campus, I would still study until the late hours of the night, it definitely was exhausting, “ he explained.

His aim in the Civil Engineering world, is to continuously learn and grow and be the best version he can be. 

“Ultimately, I hope to one day make a difference in the world of construction, make structures more accessible to people in rural areas and hope to make the living conditions of the less fortunate better, such as bringing modern construction methods to them and making them more accessible. I hope to enable people with better housing infrastructure and help make the world a better place,” he explained.

Singh looks forward to working on some type of megastructure projects, a project such as the worlds next tallest building, or the worlds next largest dam, similar to the construction documentaries that he had watched on television when he was younger. “That would one day be a dream of mine of an up-and-coming structural engineer,” he shared. 

He shares an important to note to all students, saying that studying of this level without something to destress with would drive a person absolutely insane, therefore he feels it is important to have something to destress with.

“For me this was cycling, even with all the studying I would still try my best to make time to cycle, at least three days a week, sometimes five. During the course of my degree, I have done many cycle events and many long rides such as the 108 km Cape Town Cycle Tour, 106km Amashova, 110km Tour Durban along with many more. It is also important to surround yourself with the right people and I am grateful to be surrounded by individuals who continuously motivate me to achieve everything I could. I am definitely thankful for all the people in my life, and I believe that I could not have done it without the support from them,” replied Singh.

The advice he imparts to students wishing to follow in his footsteps is to hard work as it definitely pays off.

“Anything is possible if you work hard enough and anything you wish to achieve can definitely be made possible if you have the right mindset. Nothing will seem easy at first but if you break things down and tackle each task as it comes, you will definitely succeed,” he said.

Pictured: Shivek Singh.

Waheeda Peters


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