Power couple a degree above the rest: Graduates with PhDs in engineering on the same day

2019-12-10 07:15
Bam couple graduates at SU

Bam couple graduates at SU (Stefan Els (Supplied))

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Husband and wife team Wouter Bam, 29, and Louzanne Bam, 35, ended 2019 off with a bang. The power couple graduated simultaneously with PhDs in engineering at Stellenbosch University on Monday. 

The duo, who are both lecturers in the Faculty of Engineering, were among 623 graduates who were awarded qualifications during the faculty's graduation ceremony.

Wouter also received a joint degree, namely a PhD in industrial engineering and PhD in economics from KU Leuven, which he described as a fulfilling experience.

"The only 'difficult' thing about a joint degree is that you have to meet the requirements of both universities.

"This meant, for example, I had a bigger panel at my oral examination, with representatives from both universities in order to meet the requirements of both institutions," Wouter said.

His research looked at industrial policy making in mineral-rich developing countries with a focus on policies that promote the value added to mineral products before export.

Although Wouter is an engineer by profession, he always showed an interest in economics.

This was realised after obtaining a BEng (industrial engineering) cum laude in 2012 at Stellenbosch, his interest in economics was capped by a Master's degree at the University of Cambridge

"The research for my Master's dealt with the viability of renewable chemical feedstock value chains. After completing my Master's degree, I naïvely thought that investigating the question of whether mineral-rich developing countries should beneficiate their minerals locally would be an easy and natural progression from my Masters studies," he explained.

Bam couple graduates at SU

Power couple Louzanne and Wouter Bam. (Stefan Els, Supplied)

Louzanne graduated with a PhD in industrial engineering with her research focusing on the foundational elements of a managerial framework to support team creativity in engineering organisations.

An advertisement in a local newspaper led Louzanne to engineering.

"When I was in high school, I had no clear idea what to study after matric. One day, my attention was drawn to an advertisement in a newspaper which stated that if you are creative and you like maths, you should consider studying engineering. This sparked my interest and, after attending the Stellenbosch Engineering Winter Week in my matric year, I was hooked on industrial engineering," she explained.

The couple met in class as two prospective Master's students, during the first day of the MEng admissions week at Stellenbosch and got married in December 2015.

"It is wonderful to share this moment in this special way and to have been able to support one another on this journey," the couple told News24 on Monday.

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