Dr Jakob (Japie) van Zyl, a former student at Stellenbosch University’s Engineering Faculty and at Nasa, is one of the team members behind the Curiosity rover mission to Mars.
Now Associate Director: Project Formulation and Strategy at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasedena, Dr Van Zyl completed his studies in electrical and electronic engineering at SU in the late seventies and received bursaries to continue his studies in engineering and physics at the University of California.
Prof Steyn, Chairman of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, believes this mission will encourage young South Africans to consider a career in engineering.
“Like the moon landing, it will inspire a new generation to become involved in breakthrough technology,” he said.
To read more about Dr Van Zyl, visit blogs.sun.ac.za/news/2012/08/06/from-matieland-to-mars/ or www.jpl.nasa.gov/about/bio_zyl.cfm. For more on Curiosity, see www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html.