Academic Profiles of Lecturers

Prof Andries Engelbrecht


Prof Andries Engelbrecht is an A-rated researcher as rated by the National Research Foundation. This rating acknowledges that he is a leading international researcher in his field. His fields of expertise are computational intelligence, swarm intelligence, evolutionary computation, neural networks, optimisation, machine learning, and data analytics. Prof Engelbrecht is the first incumbent of the new Voigt Chair in Data Science in the Department of Industrial Engineering.

As a first-year Matie student in 1988 he opted for BSc with Computer Science and Mathematics. He obtained his honours cum laude in 1992, followed by a master's cum laude (1994) and a PhD in 1999. During his postgraduate studies he taught Computer Studies and Mathematics on a temporary basis at a few schools. His introduction to academia came with his appointment as a lecturer in Computer Science at UNISA in 1996 where he stayed for two years.

His academic career gained momentum in 1998 when he joined the University of Pretoria as a lecturer in Computer Science. Over the two decades that followed, he rapidly progressed through the ranks, his last two positions being Head of Department (2009 to 2017) and Director: Institute for Big Data and Data Science (2017 to 2018). After 21 years at the University of Pretoria, the opportunity arose to return to his alma mater. His appointment at Stellenbosch University comprises two aspects: 50% is allocated to his role as Chair in Data Science in the Faculty of Engineering and 50% as an academic in the Computer Science Division in the Faculty of Science.

He presents the Data Analytics third year module in the Department of Industrial Engineering, as well as the Applied Machine Learning and Data Analytics modules of the Data Science postgraduate programmes. In the Computer Science Division, he presents two honours modules, Computational Intelligence and Machine Learning. He has a research group of 8 fourth year project students, 15 masters students, and 12 PhD students. In addition, he also supervises 8 external masters students and 2 external PhD students. He has graduated 52 masters students, 18 doctoral students, and 96 fourth year project students.

Prof Engelbrecht is currently the most cited Computer Scientist in South Africa, with a current Google Scholar h-index of 60. He has published over 370 research papers, and has written two books:

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Prof Jan van Vuuren


The research interests of Prof Jan H van Vuuren are combinatorial optimisation and decision support within the wider area of operations research. He heads the Stellenbosch Unit for Operations Research in Engineering (SUnORE) within the Department of Industrial Engineering.

He obtained his bachelor's degree in science cum laude from Stellenbosch University in 1989, majoring in mathematics and applied mathematics. He followed this up with an honours degree cum laude in 1990 and a master's degree cum laude in 1992, both in applied mathematics and both from Stellenbosch University. He obtained his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom in 1995. He has been a member of staff at Stellenbosch University since 1996, first in the Department of Applied Mathematics (until 2007) and then at the Department of Logistics (until 2013). He is currently professor of operations research within the Department of Industrial Engineering, a position he has held since 2014. In all of these departments he has taught subjects related to optimisation, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His academic passions are research and postgraduate students. He is the author of close to a hundred journal publications and has supervised (or co-supervised) more than 30 doctoral students to the successful completion of their studies.

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Prof Jacomine Grobler


Prof Jacomine Grobler joined the Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch in February 2019 as Associate Professor. Her areas of expertise are the development of optimisation algorithms and the application of data science within the field of industrial engineering. With this background she joined the newly-established Data Science research group.

Prof Grobler was born and raised in Pretoria. She decided to study engineering as the work is creative and requires good problem-solving skills. Furthermore, she opted for Industrial Engineering in particular, because it is people oriented and there are vast opportunities in industry for industrial engineers. She obtained all her industrial engineering degrees at the University of Pretoria: BEng 2006, HonsBEng 2007, MEng 2009 and PhD 2015.

During her study career, she received 12 awards. These include the Department of Industrial and System Engineering prize for the best final-year project; Medal from the South African Institute of Industrial Engineering for the best final-year Industrial Engineering student; Winner of the SAS Operations Research National Student Competition best honours project; South African Association for the Advancement of Science Bronze medal for the best dissertation at master’s level at the University of Pretoria; and the 2017 South African Institute for Industrial Engineering Award for Outstanding Young Industrial Engineering Researcher. From August 2008 to March 2014 she was employed by Denel Dynamics Pty Ltd. Thereafter she joined the CSIR as research group leader: Transport and Freight Logistics. In October 2015 she returned to academia, this time as lecturer in supply chain management at UP.

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Dr Sydney Kasongo


Dr Sydney Mambwe Kasongo was born and raised in Likasi, a small mining town in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C). He went to South Africa in 2010 to pursue his university studies.

He obtained his bachelor’s degree in computer systems from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2015. He went on to obtain is master’s degree in computer systems (cum laude) from TUT in 2017. In 2018, he enrolled for a PhD in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) focusing on deep learning applied to intrusion detection systems. He obtained his PhD in 2020 just before he turned 30. This has always been a milestone for him. His research interests include applied machine learning, intrusion detection systems, wireless networks, software engineering, data science, Internet of Things (IoT). And more recently, he developed a passion for Natural Language Processing.

He previously worked as an industrial automation engineer and his duties included the design, implementation and commissioning of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems for several mining companies. He also worked as a Senior Software Engineer in the prepaid metering space. Furthermore, he assumed the position of Technical Lead Engineer in an online marketing-based company where his role was to lead the software development department in conjunction with the Chief Technology Officer. His academic career started when he was appointed as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg in 2020. In 2021, he joined Stellenbosch University (SU) as a Data Science Lecturer. Dr Sydney Mambwe Kasongo is passionate about fitness and nutrition. He spends at least 1h in the gym for a minimum of 5 days a week.

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Dr Jacques du Toit


Dr Jacques du Toit obtained his bachelor's degree in physical and mathematical analysis (PMA) from Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2003, majoring in mathematics and computer science. He went on to complete his Honours degree in PMA, and received his master's degree cum laude in Applied Mathematics in 2009, also from SU. He then followed master’s courses in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and received his PhD in Operations Research in 2014 from SU.

He is currently working at a big data analytics company where his responsibilities include industry training in big data methodologies and realising value from data using the latest technologies. He has worked on various data science, machine learning and big data problems in industry, as well as big data science projects like the SKA.

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Dr Stephan Nel


Stephan Nel obtained his BEng cum laude in Industrial Engineering from Stellenbosch University in 2016. He completed his PhD in 2021 (upgraded from a masters degree) on a topic related to the training of feedforward neural networks using an evolutionary-based hyperheuristic. His masters thesis was designated as runner-up for the prestigious Theodor Stewart medal, awarded by the Operations Research Society of South Africa, for the best masters project countrywide in 2019.

He has been a member of staff at Stellenbosch University since the srart of 2019, in its Department of Industrial Engineering. He is currently lecturer of operations research at third and fourth year level and co-coordinator of the Stellenbosch Unit for Operations Research in Engineering (SUnORE) within the Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University. He is also supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students to the completion of their studies in areas of operations research, machine learning, mathematical optimisation, and evolutionary optimisation. He is an executive committee member of the Operations Research Society of South Africa and serves on the management committee of the Department of Industrial Engineering.

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Dr Emmanuel Dufourq


Dr Emmanuel Dufourq, from Mauritius, joined Stellenbosch University in 2021 as a data science lecturer (50% allocated to the Department of Industrial Engineering and 50% to the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking). His research interests include evolutionary computation, neuro-evolution, neural networks, optimisation, bioacoustic monitoring, and machine learning for conservation ecology.

He obtained a Bachelor’s degree (Computer Science & Applied Mathematics) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2012, graduated Summa Cum Laude Honours (Computer Science) in 2013, obtained a Master’s degree (Computer Science) in 2016 under the supervision of Prof Nelishia Pillay and obtained his PhD (Applied Mathematics) from the University of Cape Town in 2019 under the supervision of Prof Bruce Bassett. His doctorate focused on evolutionary deep learning which included evolutionary algorithms for text compression, sentiment analysis, facial emotion recognition and neural network optimisation.

He pursued a post-doctoral fellowship at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences from 2019 to 2021 where he obtained the Next Einstein AIMS-Canada fellowship in climate change science award. He obtained various grants to work on machine learning for conservation ecology and supervised several students in this field. His primary focus was on passive acoustic monitoring of various critically endangered species around the world including the world’s rarest primate. If you do not see your modules 48 hours after registration (check your academic history first) please contact

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Mr Eldon Burger


Eldon Burger graduated with a bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from North-West University in 2012 upon which he received the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIIIE) award for the best fourth year student. Thereafter, he joined Eskom where he worked on various analytical projects. In 2015, while working at Eskom, he obtained his degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of South Africa. In 2020, Eldon graduated from the University of Debrecen in Hungary with a master's in Computer Science and he was awarded the distinguished Dean’s List award.

Eldon joined Stellenbosch University in 2021 as a lecturer in data science. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Industrial Engineering. His research focuses on addressing the major barriers associated with adopting artificial intelligence in essential industries.

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