South Africa has many outstanding engineers and IT professionals, who are globally recognised as leaders in their fields.
These great achievements are often drowned out by the challenges the country is facing. This includes a poor education system which negatively affects the quality of mathematics and science education.
However, despite these challenges South Africa is still producing brilliant engineers and IT professionals who are world renowned.
Here are some of the South African engineering and IT professionals and companies that are leading the way globally.
The Amazon Development Centre in Cape Town is the home of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) core. Amazon EC2 is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
The Amazon EC2 service was first created in 2005 by a team in Cape Town, and was launched in 2006 from the Mother City. Chris Pinkham led a team in Cape Town which included Chris Brown, Quinton Hoole, Roland Paterson-Jones, and Willem Van Biljon.
The Amazon Development Centre in Cape Town continues to play a key role in developing and running the majority of Amazon EC2’s service.
South Africa took a leading global position in the conversion of sunlight into electricity through the development of new generation thin-film photovoltaic technology. This technology was fully developed in South Africa and is now produced at Technopark, Stellenbosch.
The PTiP demonstration plant is now used to demonstrate the advantages of the new technology to the world.
Professor Vivian Alberts from the University of Johannesburg is the CEO of PTiP and the person chiefly responsible for the research and development of the technology.
“In terms of cost and quality, the technology and product can compete with any similar product world-wide,” said Alberts.
Jonker Sailplanes is an engineering company which designs and builds gliders made from glass-fibre, carbon fibre, and Kevlar. The company was founded in 2004 by brothers Attie and Uys Jonker, and is currently a global leader in the sailplane industry.
Jonker Sailplanes has grown to become the home of the most sought-after Aeronautical, Structural Design and System Engineers and Composite Technicians. It has clients across the globe, and the company, its staff and primary product (JS-1 Revelation) have won numerous awards in various categories across the world.
Poynting Antennas is a global leader in the research, development, and manufacturing of antennas. Poynting has a wide range of products, including low cost antennas for wireless networking and cellular end–user antenna applications, RFID, and Electronic Warfare antennas servicing international defence customers.
The company has its roots as a small consultancy at WITS University in the early nineties. In 1997 Poynting Innovations was founded by Andre Fourie. Jurgen Dresel and Derek Nitch joined the company as shareholders soon afterwards. Poynting Antennas was formed in 2000 and started manufacturing antennas at a facility in Wynberg.
Sasol is a leader in various energy fields, including the Sasol Slurry Phase Distillate Process (SPD process). Through this process natural gas is transformed into energy and chemical products, including transport fuels, base oils, waxes, paraffin, and naphtha.
Sasol was founded in 1950, and continues to develop and commercialise technologies, including synthetic fuel technologies, and produces different liquid fuels, chemicals, and electricity. It has operations worldwide, and employs 34,000 people in 37 countries.
Durban-based Derivco is a global leader in the development of online gambling and gaming software. It supplies companies around the world with Internet gaming and administration software suites.
Derivco, which was founded in 1996, holds many international patents which shows the company’s focus on innovation.
Triggerfish is a Cape Town-based media and entertainment company behind the movie Khumba – a computer-animated adventure comedy film released in October 2013 in South Africa. The high profile movie included voices from Steve Buscemi, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E. Grant, and Liam Neeson.
The studio was established in 1996 as a boutique stop-frame animation studio, and made some of South Africa’s most memorable commercials.
“With two world-class animated feature films behind us, Triggerfish is a major player in the development of South Africa’s thriving local industry and one of Africa’s most exciting technology companies,” the company said.
More on Triggerfish
Diacoustic Medical Devices, Sensi
Diacoustic Medical Devices was founded in 2007 by Thys Cronje, and is situated in Stellenbosch. The company focuses on the design, development and manufacture of decision support systems for medical and health applications in the e-health and m-health environment.
One of its projects is Sensi – a computer-aided auscultation software program used along with an electronic stethoscope which is able to discern between physiological and pathological heart murmurs to accuracies of more than 90%. SensiCardiac, engineered to outperform a cardiologist, is the most advanced auscultation technology currently available on the market.
The program was produced in collaboration with Stellenbosch University’s medical and engineering faculties.
PROKON was founded in in 1989 by structural engineers Karl Eschberger and Jacques Pienaar. At the time desktop computers were still a novelty and the duo focused their energy on writing programs for DOS-based personal computers.
PROKON grew in popularity in its native South Africa, but they knew that their software had the potential to be a global success. In 1992, they brought Brian Zeederberg on board to establish a United Kingdom office.
Today, PROKON software is used and trusted by structural engineers in roughly 80 countries. Prokon software is not only developed for engineers, but is developed by engineers.
—Do you know of any great engineering or IT companies? Please let us know in the comments below.