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Mwansa Mibenge

ME in Energy Systems Engineering, NUI Galway

Mwansa was awarded a fellowship for 2020-21 and is the first ever female recipient of the Frank Ferguson Fellowship in Engineering.

Galway has a very rich culture that awes me, the kind gestures of the people warm my heart and make my stay enjoyable. 

I work as a Senior Metallurgist for Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Africa’s largest producer of copper found on the Copperbelt Province in Zambia. My role as a Senior Metallurgist in the Tailings Leach Plant department include promoting safety and safe work practice, supervision of activities aimed at achieving metallurgical efficiency on the processing plant, ensuring steady state operations of parameters. I am also involved in monitoring and optimising process plant reagents and compiling and interpreting statistical data for assessing and reporting metallurgical performance.

I chose the ME in Energy Systems Engineering for the exposure to working with high energy intensity equipment and energy demanding operations focusing on process optimisation through reduced parameter deviations and reduced energy consumption, which stimulated my interest in Energy Systems Engineering. The national power crisis that Zambia has been facing in the past few years, the country’s dependence on one form of energy also motivated me and reinforced my desire to pursue a programme related to renewable energy with the hope of making a meaningful contribution to my country. The Energy Systems Engineering programme offers applicable solutions in energy diversification.

So far, the fellowship has benefitted me in that I have been exposed to cultural diversity by meeting new people from different countries. I have experienced intellectual growth – understanding the basic principles of energy systems. While my practical skills on the programme are yet to be tested and polished through applications in the industries, I can confidently say I am now more knowledgeable of the key fundamental principles of energy resource estimations. In a short period, I have learnt how to carry out projects from the beginning to the end through virtual platforms such as Teams and Zoom. This requires discipline and team spirit. This programme has enhanced my interpersonal skills and helped me learn how to work in a group with efficiency.

I have applied myself to working remotely and greatly improved my typing skills, I have become very conversant with working with Excel, confidently executing energy resource calculations. My analytic skills have greatly improved, and I am able to interpret graphical data with ease.

It has been quite an experience far from my expectations, to be honest, due to the COVID-19 restrictions. I have learnt how to find enjoyment in the little moments because, at the end of the day, these are what matter the most. I have met beautiful people from different walks of life, enjoying meaningful interactions and encouragement. Galway has a very rich culture that awes me, the kind gestures of the people warm my heart and make my stay enjoyable. Embracing the weather makes me get through the cold, windy, and rainy days.

The programme has helped me realise the potential of expanding the energy sector in my country. There has not been a moment in my studies that I have not asked myself how I can apply the lesson to my country. Zambia has great potential to increase its energy supply through renewable sources and effectively get rid of the erratic power supply. I feel indebted to initiate projects to improve the energy supply, if not through the government then through the private sector in my country. I know this may be challenging, which is why I plan to make connections before my departure, so that I can make my own company and help my nation as I work along-side those of like minds.

I have been thinking of ways to improve the energy efficiency of the equipment in the leach plant, undertaking such plans as will reduce the cost of operations and save the company money. I plan to apply the knowledge gained to benefit my organisation, ensuring optimum operations through energy efficient equipment. I will be able to build a team or work in an existing team effectively making contributions that will ensure deliveries are met on target. I have been able to work under tough times and the pressure of the pandemic. This has taught me a valuable lesson in adapting, I will be ready to work in any section adapting to give the organisation the best of my work.

For my dissertation, I will be working on “Assessment of Anaerobic Digestion Plant based on digestate management using Geographical Information System (GIS) Techniques”. My project encompasses production of biogas from agricultural waste focusing on optimum locations of the AD plants with respect to the suitable application points of digestate- biowaste from the AD process using GIS software.

My hopes are to not only see Zambia attain its sustainable development goals for 2030 on reliable and cheap energy for all, but also to be part of the intellectual work force that pushes Zambia to its achievement. To see Zambia become economically stable, through energy supply stability and industrial expansion.

My personal motto is to keep progressing and growing. Ultimately, growing into my dreams of helping other youths discover their potential of contributing to the community and the economy of our country. Growing into a happy union making a good, supportive wife and loving mum. Yet still, a responsible, hardworking citizen.