College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Mechanical Engineering PhD Graduate Fentahun Moges Kasie’s Proud Moment!

Dr Fentahun Moges Kasie graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The late notorious engineer and one of Ethiopia’s first aerospace scientists, Mr Kitaw Ejigu served as Kasie’s role model. ‘He successfully passed all the challenges from being born in the rural region of Ethiopia. He invented two aerospace mechanisms that were patented under NASA’s new technology and he collaborated with other scientists to create space shuttles and rockets that assisted in planetary science research and the exploration of planet earth. Among his greatest achievements while working on space technology was his innovative creations on the improvement of the Global Positioning System (GPS), and a revolutionary and dynamic flight simulator for the Boeing Company,’ said Kasie.

The aim of Kasie’s research was to develop a decision support system that would be used to perform a decision-based part or fixture assignment and fixture flow control during the planned production period. ‘It was designed to assist its users to reuse or adapt the retrieved fixtures or manufacture new fixtures depending on the state of the retrieved fixtures and the similarities between the current and retrieved cases. Various elements of artificial intelligence (case-based reasoning, rule-based reasoning, fuzzy set theory and analytic hierarchy process) and discrete-event simulation techniques were integrated to develop the decision support system,’ said Kasie.

He describes his experience whilst studying as ‘mostly challenging to reach this stage’. ‘The first difficulty was to define the research problem, which had significant contributions to the existing body of knowledge and could be applied to solve industrial problems. Another challenge was the lack of funds to participate in professional conferences and access online sources of literature to complete the study according to its intended objective,’ said Kasie.

Kasie, who is family orientated and curious, likes visiting historical places and reading recent scientific discoveries to be able to apply them to solve industrial problems.

Kasie would like to improve and broaden the applicability of his research decision support system. ‘In order to achieve this, it is required to work in collaboration with professionals in various disciplines. My postdoctoral research will focus on multidisciplinary research outputs in collaboration with professionals in various disciplines such as electrical engineering, software engineering, information technology, business management, etc.’

‘Engineering is a multidisciplinary and dynamic profession to solve problems faced by humans and improve the lives of people in society. In order to achieve this qualification, Engineering students should be capable to apply scientific theories to problems on hand and have to be aware of recent technological advancements, especially advances in information communication technology. Unless they are equipped with these two significant requirements, Engineering professionals will be challenged to compete globally and to contribute innovative ideas and solutions to the current problems faced in society.’

Words: Manqoba Hadebe