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Mechanical Engineering – Not just about dirty overalls

The wide-ranging nature of mechanical engineering compelled Moyake Sinoxolo to pursue it as a career field.
“When I told people that I was going to study mechanical engineering, they thought I was going to fix cars,” says Moyake, a 29-year-old Commissioning Technician at John Thompson in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. John Thompson designs, manufactures and sells boilers.
As a Commissioning Technician, Moyake is responsible for ensuring the boilers are fully operational.
He liaises with clients on technical support. He explains that he found the field to be much deeper than what people see on the surface and this is what ignited his passion for it.
“From a young age, I was interested in moving objects and wanted to learn how they operate. However, it was the versatility of mechanical engineering that fostered my curiosity.”
Moyake completed a fitting and machining qualification at East Midlands Training College in 2011. Through the eagerness to excavate knowledge in the field, he studied a Mechanical Engineering diploma at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, which he completed in 2018.
“I understood that launching a successful career in engineering required that I empower myself academically, but I could not afford to study further due to lack of funds,” says Moyake. His big break, he explains, came in 2015 when he was awarded a bursary by the merSETA to study the Mechanical Engineering diploma.
Moyake says the skills acquired in mechanical engineering dynamics, such as mechanics, fluid mechanics, strength of materials and thermodynamics, became instrumental in him becoming a good Commissioning Technician.
“I got fully acquainted with economic design, planning and production, which form a vital link in industry where designs are to be successfully implemented,” he says.
While studying, Moyake received an internship training opportunity at John Thompson as a Trainee Technician. Hard-work and dedication saw him being permanently appointed by the company upon completion of his internship.
“My internship was one of the most enjoyable periods in my career because I got to put the theoretical knowledge I acquired during my studies into practice,” explains Moyake.
He continues: “I earned the trust of my employer through the manner in which I carry myself at work, particularly when I interact with clients. When given a task, I execute it to perfection. During early 2018, they gave me an opportunity to go to the Philippines, where I was tasked with commissioning a 200-ton boiler on my own.”
He lauds the support and mentoring from his manager, Piet Lewis, whom he says encourages him to work hard and continuously improve his skills.
Moyake is currently studying for a B-Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering which will see him qualify as a Commissioning Engineer upon completion. He is a firm believer in the saying: “The world is your oyster.”
“The funding I received from the merSETA was a stepping stone and I do not intend to ever look back. It provided a significant financial relief because I was able to pay tuition, accommodation and buy groceries,” he says.
Moyake adds that his mother has been his greatest supporter. “Many parents prefer their children to become doctors or lawyers. My mother showed no disappointment when I discussed my career ambitions with her, but instead encouraged me to follow my dreams,” he concludes.
Written  by Penelope Dlamini