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Blazing a trail in her sector

Central University Technology's Prof Lize Theron together with Dr Phillip Robert Stott at their graduation.

It has been just over 30 years of service for this engineering trailblazer.

From starting out as a training engineering technician in 1980s, Prof Lize Theron has come a long way in a male dominated industry.

For several years she was the only female lecturer and the first person to do it with a PhD in the civil engineering department at the Central University of Technology. If this does not set her apart then nothing does.

Today she is one of few women in the faculty –a good sign for the institution and the sector.

She is also a conduit for postgraduate students wanting to follow her path having supervised a total of 15 students at varying levels of qualification.

She is also the lead of the Soil Mechanics Research Group, which assess or investigate foundation problems, especially in RDP houses, due to heaving clays in the Free State. It is for this research project that for there years in a row, Prof Theron received the J.E. Jennings award from the Geotechnical Division of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering between 2017 and 2019.

A feat achieved by no one else.

“What a few people know about me is that I was one of the first group of students to enrol for the civil engineering diploma at the then TFS (Technikon Free State). I was also part of the first group to obtain my diploma and national higher dip. After I joined CUT I was first to obtain a MTech, as well the first lecturer with a PhD, only female lecturer in civil engineering department for about 20years,” she says.

But this is not her highest honours; the awards she has received over the years are the actual accolades of her contribution to the industry.



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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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