Change the world

Volkswagen South Africa - DAAD International Chair in Automotive Engineering

Professor Theo van Niekerk (Chair)



  • 1988 BSc Eng (Electrical & Electronic) at University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • 1992 NH Dipl Computer Data Processing, Port Elizabeth Technikon (PET)
  • 1996 M Tech Information Technology (PET)
  • D Tech Electrical Engineering (PET)

Scientific Experience

  • Professor of Manufacturing Engineering, established researcher and NRF Grant Holder (since 1992) within the multi-disciplinary Manufacturing Technology Research Centre (MTRC), PE Technikon Research Merit Award, 2003. Provide leadership and expertise for research and development within the following knowledge areas: Industrial Process Monitoring, Diagnosis and Control for Automation, Manufacturing Process development, Evaluation and Optimization for Discrete Part Manufacturing. Mechatronic System Development / Robotic Applications.  Within these fields, over the last five years published seven scientific papers in accredited journals and fifteen papers in peer reviewed conference proceedings.  During this period, succesfully supervised five Doctoral and ten Masters post-graduate students.

Participation in International Research Seminars and Missions

  • Van Niekerk T.I. et al, 2002, Production Technology Mission to Germany, Sponsored by DACST and German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, 18th – 22 March,
  • Van Niekerk T.I. et al, 2003, Business Development and Technology Transfer Mission to Europe, Sponsored by the GTZ and International Chair in Entrepreneurship, 5-21 October, Poland, Czech Rep, Germany.
  • Hatting D.G., van Niekerk T.I., 2003, International Workshop on Friction Stir Welding, 1 – 3 April 2003, PE Technikon, South Africa. Sponsered by NRF, MTRC, PE Technikon, US Navy and Army.
  • Katz Z., van Niekerk T. I., Heyns S., 2005, International Workshop on Scientific and Technological Research in Manufacturing, February 2005, RAU, UP & NMMU, NMMU, South Africa. Sponsored by NRF and DTI.
  • Schoombie S., van Niekerk T.I., 2005, International Seminar on Research and Development in Automotive Engineering, 12-13 Sept, NMMU, South Africa.
  • Presentation:
  • van Niekerk, 2004, E-Manufacturing: Monitoring and Control, US-SA/ NSF-NRF Collaborative Research Workshop in Emerging Manufacturing Technologies, 4-7 October, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
  • Van Niekerk, 2004, International Masters in Automotive Engineering, Shaping the Common Future – Academic Exchange and Scientific Cooperation between South Africa and Germany, DAAD-Workshop, 3-5th September, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Research Capacity Development

  • Co-Founding member of the Manufacturing Technology Research Centre (MTRC).
  • Strategic in establishment of the Automotive Component Technology Station (ACTS).
  • As NRF Grantholder obtain external funding from NRF, THRIP and Industry to contribute in establishing a research infrastructure and capacity within the MTRC.
  • Member in establishment of the Advanced Mechatronics Technology Centre (AMTC).
  • Past Chairperson of the AMTC and ACTS Management Committees.

Mr LeRoi Grimbeek (Marketing & Finance Manager)

Leroi Grimbeek 


  • 2008 - 2009 : Baccalaureus Technologiae Degree: Marketing (UNISA)  
  • 2003 - 2006 : National Diploma: Marketing (NMMU)

Professional Experience

  • January 2009 - present: Marketing & Finance Manager for VWSA/DAAD Chair
  • June 2007 - December 2008: Marketing Coordinator for VWSA/DAAD Chair 

Mr Juergen Kranz (Scientist)

Juergen Kranz


  • 4 years Diplom Course of Electronics at Reutlingen University
  • 1,5 years Masters Course in Mechatronics at Reutlingen University
  • Currently working at DTECH in the area of Automotive Air-Conditioning at NMMU

Scientific Experience

  • Tutor activity at Reutlingen University, faculty Production Management, lecture basics of electrical engineering
  • Tutor activity at Fachhochschule Reutlingen, faculty Elektronik, lecture microcontroller technology
  • Tutor activity at Fachhochschule Reutlingen, faculty Elektronik, lecture information technology

Industry Experience

  • 2006 – 2007Robert Bosch GmbH, department AE/EDP3 (Automotive Electronics/Engineering Design Powertrain) in Schwieberdingen, Germany
  • 2004 – 2004Robert Bosch GmbH, department AE/SPE2 (Automotive Electronics/Sensors External Customers) in Reutlingen, Germany 
  • 2002 – 2003Automatic Systeme Roland Dreher GmbH in Sulz, Germany