Pranesh Moodley knew he wanted to be engineer, it was just a question of what kind. Should he be a civil or mechanical engineer, he wondered? But it all changed when the head of the agricultural engineering department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal guided him to explore agricultural engineering.
Realising how much a career in agricultural engineering offered, he pursued that and now is enjoying the best of both worlds. Moodley is an agricultural engineer at MBB Consulting Engineers and the President of South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE).
“My clients range from commercial farmers to government departments and parastatals rooted in the agricultural sphere,” he says. “A big part of my job involves offering consulting engineering solutions for the agricultural industry”.
If you want to succeed in this field like Moodley, flexibility in your approach in dealing with clients, government departments and other stakeholders is very important. “You must be able to listen and be prepared to work in a team. You must also be passionate and be prepared to get “stuck in” when required. You also need to be analytical, but above all you must be pragmatic and practical with your solutions”, he says.
If this career or field of study interests you, then Moodley’s advice below. Over the next few weeks we will feature many more careers to choose from in the agri sector on Food for Mzansi and 19 radio stations all over the country.
Ok, now it’s over to Pranesh Moodley, agricultural engineer at MBB Consulting Engineers and President of South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE):
Could you sum up your job for us? I offer consulting engineering solutions for the agricultural industry. My clients range from commercial farmers to government departments and parastatals rooted in the agricultural sphere.
So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? At the moment I manage a team of young engineers involved in various agricultural and rural development projects. My activities focus on project and contract management for these projects. I also oversee the design process and legal compliance issues. This can range from hydrological, geological and agronomic studies as well as design for irrigation, agro-processing and other agricultural infrastructure.
What qualification do you need for this career? A degree in agricultural engineering is required, followed by professional registration with the Engineering Council of South Africa.
What are the character traits you need to be great at your job? You need to be flexible in your approach in dealing with clients, government departments and other stakeholders. You must be able to listen and be prepared to work in a team. You must also be passionate and be prepared to get “stuck in” when required. You also need to be analytical, but above all you must be pragmatic and practical with your solutions.
What subjects do I need to become an agricultural engineer? Mathematics and physical science are pre-requisites with technical drawing being recommended.
What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? A good mix of working within an office environment and working outdoors, as well as seeing the difference we make in people’s lives.
Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? The proudest moment of my career was when I completed a rural water supply scheme at the Ntingwe Tea Estate. Although it was not the most technologically advanced project, nor were any of the engineering solutions unique, I took great joy in seeing that the drudgery of collecting water from community standpipes was eradicated.
What do you do when you’re not at work? I enjoy cooking over the weekends, usually with a glass or two of wine – one needs to support the industry that keeps you employed!
Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? Work on your communication skills – both written and verbal. These are probably the most important aspects that you should focus on early in your career.
Where can I study to become an agricultural engineer? At present only through the University of KwaZulu-Natal, although the University of the Free State is currently developing a new Bachelor’s degree program for Agricultural Engineering that is expected to be implemented from 2022 onwards.