Mechanical Engineering Lecturer receives Master of Engineering from CPUT

Zakhele Zondi

It was all fanfare in the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering’s office as Professor Babatunde Bakare received wonderful news of the addition of yet another Master of Engineering (M.Eng) qualification to the Faculty. This time, it was Mechanical Engineering Lecturer, Zakhele Zondi, who received his qualification from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

Zakhele was reading for his M.Eng in the area of vibrations where his thesis title was Numerical and experimental procedures for determining characteristics of Stockbridge dampers. He explains that a Stockbridge damper “is a tuned mass damper used to suppress wind-induced vibrations on slender structures such as overhead power lines, long cantilevered signs and cable-stayed bridges. The damper is designed to dissipate the energy of oscillations in the main cable to an acceptable level.”

Supervised by CPUT’s Dr Modify A.E Kaunda, Zakhele’s work will contribute to the sustainability of electricity supply, an area that has received significant attention in South Africa given the electricity supply challenge and its resultant load-shedding. “The purpose of the research is to propose improvements to the structural arrangement of Stockbridge dampers used on transmission lines, in order to increase the life of these dampers. Failure of a damper leads to failure of the transmission line, which then leads to power outage. An increase in the lifespan of Stockbridge dampers will reduce the life-cycle costs of transmission lines,” said Zakhele.

This meant that Zakhele had to study the characteristics of asymmetric Stockbridge dampers to determine their efficiency and reliability. Mathematical models had to be developed and experiments were conducted on sample Stockbridge dampers. The results of all this work will be used to develop a new model. Zakhele will not have to wait long before he can put all his work to practice.

Like adding icing to a perfectly baked cake, Zakhele has already registered to continue the study at Doctor of Engineering level. It is here where the work he did for his M.Eng will be developed into a real life model that could be used. “I will be designing a new Stockbridge damper, manufacture it and (it will) be tested in the vibration research facility,” Zakhele said.