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Adéle van der Walt - Solving the Impossible

Adéle van der Walt

“My father once told me that if you do what you have to do today, tomorrow will take care of itself. So, I will adapt as required to stay true to what I believe in.”
Adéle van der Walt.

Adéle van der Walt’s official title at Ingenium Engineers is ‘managing member and professional mechanical engineer’. “I am the chief, the cook and the bottle washer,” she explained jokingly.

Getting started

“When you are 18, you usually don’t know what you want to do with your life, except that you want to (and have to) live it!” So Van der Walt decided to study Mechanical Engineering at Potchefstroom University in 1992. In 2006 she would return to complete her MBA degree. Since then she has also completed various major short courses, including a TIA design certificate for data centres, a Certified Energy Management course and Certified Energy Measuring and Verification qualifications.

After completing her B.Eng in 1996, Van der Walt started at C&V Consulting Engineers (then Conradie & Venter), working for Henri le Roux. Le Roux, a specialist HVAC engineer, and Dave Cronje took Van der Walt under their wing and showed her the ropes. In 1999, she moved to Pietermaritzburg where Pieter van Rensburg and Chris Braund took over as her mentors and she registered as a professional engineer.

C&V always wanted to open a branch in Gauteng and in 2003, they grabbed the chance to start a new firm called Dihlase Consulting Engineers with the help of Van der Walt. In 2011 she took the leap and decided to go solo, starting up Ingenium Engineers.

Why this industry?

“It’s probably the science and mathematics that draw me in at first, but I stayed in the industry because you can create new things,” Van der Walt explained. “We have the opportunity to be creative and come up with ways to solve problems that can actually make a difference to the world. My favourite part of my job is when I can find a solution for a difficult, seemingly impossible to solve, problem!” She’s also excited about the recent focus on energy and the whole new field it brings.

Projects

In her many years in the industry, Van der Walt has worked on a great variety of projects, the biggest of which was the MTN roll-out of 14 switches from 2008. The total installed HVAC capacity was 41MW designed in accordance with TIER IV standards. “The highlight of my career is still the 380kW mobile air-conditioning unit that we built from scratch in 2004. In recent years, the unit assisted both Di Data and the JSE in not only transitioning systems, but fixing a leaking pipe without downtime.”