School of Chemistry & Physics

From Electrical Engineering Degree to Honours in Physics

With a National Diploma and BTech degree in Electrical Engineering from the Durban University of Technology already in the bag, Ms Tankiso Moso has now graduated from UKZN with a BSc Honours degree in Physics sponsored by the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP).

Moso’s research project focused on the PRIZM radio telescope, a new radio astronomy telescope on Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean being used to search for the birth of the first stars.

‘Tankiso is setting an inspiring example for others to follow,’ said her supervisor, Dr Cynthia Chiang. ‘In transitioning to NASSP astrophysics, she overcame the formidable challenge of teaching herself several years’ worth of physics material while taking on honours level classes. I’m delighted that she not only passed everything, but also received a certificate of merit in her physics research project class for her excellent work on PRIZM.’

Said Moso: ‘For my undergraduate degree industrial project, I specialised in radio frequency and microwave engineering. When a friend introduced me to the NASSP UKZN Node Scholarship, it caught my attention because I realised that if I majored in Instrumentational Astrophysics, I could still apply my engineering specialities.

‘It was extremely challenging, I had to do a lot of Physics self-study in order to switch programmes and pass my modules since most of the material was new to me,’ she said. ‘It’s not every day that people take a leap of faith and jump from Engineering at a university of technology to Physics at university. I am proud to say that this leap of faith helped me successfully bridge the gap between Engineering and Physics.

‘Prayer and determination got me where I am,’ said Moso. ‘The standard was high but hard work and more effort, rather than being “smart”, worked for me.

‘As long as you have a motive and a rough plan to work hard, pray and let God handle the rest,’ said Moso.

Moso thanked her parents and siblings for their unfaltering support throughout her studies. She also acknowledged Chiang for her supervision in the planning and implementation of her honours project.

Moso is currently registered at UKZN for an MSc degree in Applied Mathematics, specialising in Instrumentational Astrophysics. Her future plans are to complete her PhD and pursue an academic career.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan