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SEE GALLERY: Eastern Cape IT Experts honoured

May 11, 2017
SEE GALLERY: Eastern Cape IT Experts honoured

Seven leading Eastern Cape IT experts were honoured for their achievements at a well-attended gala awards dinner, organised by the Eastern Cape Chapter of the  Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (the IITPSA) and held at the Port Elizabeth St George’s Club on the 4th of May.

The awards were presented to the winners by Ulandi Exner, the President of the IITPSA, assisted by Devereaux Joubert, the Chairman of the Eastern Cape Chapter of the IITPSA.

Joshua Stander

Joshua Stander of Grey High School and Abigail van der Mescht of Westering High School were chosen as the joint EC IITPSA 2017 IT Scholars of the Year for their outstanding academic achievements in ICT at their schools and their performances in national ICT competitions run by the IITPSA.

Joshua is in Grade 12. He achieved 93% in the 2016 Computer Olympiad Talent Search. He received a gold certificate for achieving 91% in the first round of the 2016 National Programming Olympiad and was invited to take part in the second round of the Olympiad.

He was awarded a Provincial certificate and was placed 3rd in the Eastern Cape. He participated in the 2016 National Applications Olympiad and came 3rd in the Eastern Cape in the first round. He was invited to participate in the final round of this Olympiad in Cape Town and was awarded a silver certificate. He was the only Grade 11 pupil in the top 5 positions.

He also took part in the 2016 NMMU Programming Competition as a member of a three person team. They came first in the Grade 11 team category.


Abigail is in Grade 11. She is outstanding academically and has achieved 1st place in her grade since Grade 8. Her problem solving skills and computational thinking abilities are outstanding. She received a gold certificate in 2016 for achieving 93% in the Computer Olympiad Talent Search.

She also achieved 1st place in IT in her class last year. She achieved 100% for the first Grade 11 IT practical test.

Nicholas Jordaan

Nicholas Jordaan of the School of ICT at NMMU was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2017 IT Student of the Year for his outstanding academic results. He was also honoured for his outstanding achievements as a member of a two person programming team that entered the Microsoft Imagine Cup in the Game Design Category in 2015 (when he was still a first-year student) and 2016.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is one of the largest programming competitions in the world with an average of 350 000 students in 50 000 teams competing worldwide annually. He and his partner taught themselves how to develop computer games with minimal help.

In South Africa this competition is normally entered by 3rd year, BTech, Honours, and Masters students. Nicholas’ team represented South Africa at the Imagine Cup Finals at Seattle in the USA in 2015 and 2016 and each of their games was selected as one of the top nine games in the world on both occasions.

Nicholas is an outstanding student academically and is a highly creative developer. His achievements in the Imagine Cup are extraordinary for an undergraduate.

Mandy Daniels

Mandy Daniels of BCX was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2017 IT Woman of the Year. She focused on Syspro ERP training and support whilst working at DataScope. In 2015 she decided to start her own ERP training company, Mandz.

For the past couple of years her business has expanded from serving PE Syspro clients to offices in East London and Johannesburg. She has shown remarkable entrepreneurial skills and actively promotes “Women in IT” initiatives.

Mandy was not present at the awards as she was overseas on business, and her award was received by on her behalf by Eddie Leo of BCX, who nominated her for the award.

 Martin Smuts

Martin Smuts, co-founder of MyFinVault and a PhD student in the Department of Computing Sciences at NMMU was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2017 IT Entrepreneur of the Year for his business and technical leadership in conceptualising and developing My Financial Vault.

We were looking for someone who had personally identified an opportunity, created an IT innovation, contributed to or created a business and successfully grown the business.

This award was strongly contested making it challenging to decide the ultimate winner. Martin Smuts was the first recipient of the Mandela Bay Entrepreneurship Fellowship, underscribed by Alan Knott-Craig.

This R100 000 grant is awarded once a year to an M or D graduate from NMMU Computing Sciences or the School of ICT who successfully submits a start-up business plan. He and his business partner have recently launched the product "My Financial Vault" which they submitted for the fellowship in January 2016.

My Financial Vault  is a premium cloud solution that keeps sensitive and valuable files safe, secured and encrypted by using advanced encryption and authentication technologies.

Martin Smuts initiated Project Imfundo which is committed to delivering accessible, high-quality career guidance and advice to South African children. The true innovation of Project Imfundo lies in its "career chat-bot".

Professor Darelle van Greunen

Professor Darelle van Greunen, the Director of the Centre for Community Technologies in the School of ICT at NMMU was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2017 IT Contributor of the Year for her outstanding leadership is developing ICT applications that support human capital development in Africa.

Professor van Greunen has extensive experience in developing and implementing computerized applications in low resource environments in Africa and further afield. Her research is inter-disciplinary including computer science and IT, education, health, social and rural development.

In 2014, she was tasked by the NMMU Council to establish the Centre for Community Technologies. This research and engagement entity aims to use technology as a catalyst and enabler in solving social problems pre-dominantly in low income/rural areas.

As part of the mandate of the Centre for Community Technologies, she is currently fulfilling the role of Principal Investigator in multiple projects, some of which are funded by the EU and others by grant programmes. Through her applied research and the supervision of postgraduate students, she is also instrumental in policy formulation as well as new legislation.

Jaco Maass

Jaco Maass from BKB was chosen as the EC IITPSA 2017 IT Personality of the Year for his visionary leadership in replacing BKB’s traditional ICT infrastructure with a completely new and modern ICT infrastructure that has revolutionised the way the BKB does business.

Jaco Maass stands out as a leader of IT in the EC by having progressivelyreplacing BKB’s traditional and legacy ICT systems to a modern, agile company using business intelligence to meet the changing needs of the business environment.  He has made a positive impact and contribution to IT in the EC in various ways.

For example, during the #FeesMustFall student protests, he provided computer facilities at BKB for students to continue with their studies and arranged lecturing venues and access to the BKB computer laboratory for students to complete their practical assignments. 

Furthermore, he has provided a platform for the Departments of Computer Science and Accounting to carry out cutting-edge Big Data research. He is also a committed and dedicated committee member and a driving force behind the EC Chapter of the IITPSA.

He arranges industry talks and promotes professional membership of the institute. As quoted from his nominator: “It is very seldom that we come across an IT professional of his calibre and professionalism in the industry today, he came from the Banking industry with an MBA... and applied his knowledge and expertise to BKB.

One can only stand in awe of how, not only his ICT department, but the whole of BKB have benefited from his leadership and vision”. The winner of this award will represent the EC at the prestigious 2017 National IT Personality of the Year event to be held in Johannesburg later this year.

The IITPSA is a professional body for over 8,000 South African IT Professionals, Academics and Practitioners, and is recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as a professional body.

“It was a proud moment for me as the Eastern Cape IITPSA Chairman to award such deserving candidates with these prestigious awards," said Devereaux Joubert Software Development Director at The Code Group.

"The calibre from all the award winners instils me with a great sense of pride for the IT community here in Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape. We look forward to the future events we will be holding and an even bigger and better Awards Gala Dinner for next year.”

(Photos by  Samantha Pittaway.)

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