NUST loses a rare jewel

THE passing on of Dr. Joel Tshuma has deemed NUST poorer of a rare jewel. Having touched and inspired many lives of both staff and students he interacted with, Dr Tshuma has left a gap in the Chemical Engineering fraternity of NUST. 

“No amount of words can express the devastating untimely loss of Dr. Tshuma, our dear brother, colleague, mentor and friend,” said Ms Nonhlanhla Mguni, Chairperson of the Department of Chemical Engineering.   

Dr Tshuma, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering under the Faculty of Engineering held an MSc in Chemical Engineering specialising in chemical production technologies from the Instuto Superior Politecnico Jose Anatonio Echeverria, Havana, Cuba in 1994. He joined NUST in 1998 as Assistant Technician in the Department of Chemical Engineering and a year later he was promoted to Technician. In 2001 he was promoted to Senior Technician in the same Department.

Dr Tshuma left the country in 2001 to pursue his PhD studies at the Instituto Politecnico Nacional Mexico D.F., Mexico.

He was also a part-time lecturer at Gwanda State University from 2015 to 2019. In 2018, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer, the position that he held until the time of his death.

“It is heart-breaking to lose Dr Tshuma after overcoming so many hurdles to become

one of the leading lights in the Chemical Engineering Department,” said the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mqhele Dlodlo.

Dr Tshuma lost his sight from an accident in the laboratory during his PhD studies in Mexico, where he graduated with a PhD in Metallurgy and Material Sciences. He will be remembered for leaving a legacy that disability is not inability.

“He and I got very close together while our Departments were tenants at the ZESA Training Centre. During that time, he created detergents, dustless chalk, handwashing liquid, etc. He helped so many SMEs in collaboration with the City of Bulawayo,” said Prof Dlodlo of Dr Tshuma’s contribution at the early stages of establishment of the University.

“When I returned to NUST as Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Tshuma was one of the first academics to welcome me back in 2018. He was still his spontaneously creative self, full of bright engineering insights into solution possibilities. May His Soul Rest In Peace!” said the Vice-Chancellor.

Despite being visually impaired, Dr. Tshuma rode above the tide to offer his selfless service to those he worked with.

“Dr. Tshuma was a visionary, a passionate mentor, very collaborative, goal-oriented as well as caring, despite the challenges he encountered. He nurtured a lot of people and gave expert and inspirational advice on administration issues, research, projects and student matters,” said Ms Mguni speaking on behalf of members of his Department.

She said the outpouring condolences the Department was receiving from students are a testimony of his dedication to work, his excellency and caring personality.

“He leaves us with a difficult space to fill. We are very honoured and privileged to have interacted with Dr. Tshuma. Isitsha esihle kasidleli,” she said.

A man of the people, who was touched by the plight of those disadvantaged in the communities, Dr. Tshuma was the Project Coordinator for the National Council of the Disabled People of Zimbabwe in 1999; joined the Rotary Club of Bulawayo South in 2016 and became President of the Njube Old Timers Association, Bulawayo, from 2017. His interests in the development and betterment of industries in the country is reflected in his various project engagements with different companies across the country.

In 2012, Dr Tshuma led a team of researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering in launching a safe water management programme in conjunction with the Bulawayo City Council and other stakeholders. The programme sought to raise awareness in industry about safe waste management practices and finding innovative ways of curbing pollution. Under the programme, NUST and BCC held a series of workshops on waste management with industrialists.

In the same year, he became consultant to various Bulawayo industries namely Schweppes Zimbabwe Ltd, Pottery Industries, Macdonald bricks, Ingwebu breweries, and selected funeral parlours.

His employment experience spans more than 20 years as a science teacher, a university technician, a sugar refineries chemist, a chemical engineer and specialist in various industries.

Between 1998-1999, Dr. Tshuma simulated a “Press Filter” for the BHP Selous Plant on behalf of the Larox Filter Company of Southern Africa, yet before he had formulated and designed equipment for manufacturing bar soaps for the Zhombe Soap Factory in 1997, where he also served as Production Manager. His role in the brewery industry was notable owing to the achievements recorded during his tenure at different companies. 

An award winning academic, Dr. Tshuma was a recipient of the Senior Category award at the universities Research and Innovation Expo in 2013. He was also seconded to Trojan Mine and Freda Rebecca Mine as an industrial attaché under the Royal Academy of Engineering UK- funded project.

Known for his committed service to the University, Dr. Tshuma also received the 15-year long service award at NUST, in 2013. He holds to his academic record, 10 published journal articles, and also presented 9 conference papers. Dr. Tshuma also developed a Masters Degree programme, whilst also known to have organised a 100-delegate conference on waste management in 2011.

True to his trait of excellence, students whose research he supervised received notable awards at the national engineering students’ competitions (NESAC) in 2016 and 2017.    

Dr. Tshuma was a respected member of international and local professional bodies. He was a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; the American Chemical Society (ACS); the Network of Users of Scientific Equipment of Southern Africa. (NUSESA), Editor of the Thomson George Publishing House, Malaysia, from 2013 to 2021.

At local level, he was a Committee Member of the Bulawayo Provincial Coordinating Committee on Pollution; Board member of the Bulawayo solid Waste Improvement Platform; Chairperson of the Bulawayo Education and Social Marketing Committee and reviewer of the Zimbabwe Journal of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, from 2013.

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