WITS appoints Dr Tony Paterson

Dr Paterson has been appointed to the position of senior lecturer/associate professor for Welding and Fabrication Science in the School of Chemical and Metallurgical engineering, at the behest of Professor Sunny Iyuke. The appointment has been made following an agreement between the university and the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW), in which the Institute is providing funding to assist the university to make an impact on the national shortage of skilled personnel in the fabrication and welding field.

“The retirement of Professor Andy Koursaris left a gap in the physical metallurgy arena and, whilst junior members of staff were available, the width and depth of experience in welding and fabrication technology was missing. I hope to fill this gap and share my knowledge and expertise with these younger members of staff over the next three years”, says Dr Paterson. “My experience was gained through working with both the Department and the SAIW for many years. Previous interest at SAIW was in metallurgy of welding, welded structures and the complementary aspects of welding intending to meet a client’s needs under specific operating conditions. This reflected my original interest in the metallurgy of welding and its structural impact. I was also interested in the interdependence between structural design, materials selection and welded fabrication. The interaction between the Metallurgy department and SAIW is in line with these interests.”

Dr Paterson took on this new role due to this combination of interests and a willingness to contribute. “I have passed my sell-by-date, but am not brain dead yet and still find technology fascinating,” he laughs.

The position at Wits encompasses three main elements: to build up on existing ties and programmes with the SAIW and their relationship with the IIW programmes in order to improve the output of IIW registered International Welding Engineers (IWE), to develop and strengthen ties with different user groups with a view to improve the understanding and practice of welding, its operating circumstances and relevant research programmes, and to develop a successor.

Dr Paterson is married to Lorna and has two children, a daughter Jackie, and a son, Craig, both married, but with no grandchildren as yet. Apart from enjoying the golf he took up a few years ago, he also has many other hobbies such as canoeing, hiking and scuba diving, all activities that can be shared with the children.

“I am excited about this unexpected opportunity to make a contribution,” says Dr Paterson. “Welding is not one dimensional. Apart from the differences in metals and alloys, different users operate in very different environments. These environments affect choices of welding and welding technology. For instance, civil engineering concentrates on once-off infrastructure projects with a life expectancy of decades, mechanical engineering has an interest in capital goods such as motor cars with a focus on production efficiency. Marine engineering is concerned with stress corrosion and the consequences of failure, while the electrical sector is about power station construction and power distribution. Process engineering involves tanks and pipelines operating under temperature and chemical conditions which cannot afford failure. Commercial transport of hazardous goods places a far higher reliance of weld ductility as designs are plastic and intended to absorb energy in the case of an incident. The beverage, food and pharmaceutical sectors have a major interest in health issues. All these examples impact on design and fabrication choices.”

Dr Paterson is a man of ideas, especially around teaching and research and is not shy to share his knowledge. “Failure is often not structural failure, but a failure to achieve the purposes of the structure. Current problems include the lack of attention paid to set up, fit up, alignment, material shape, size and thickness tolerances and the ensuing weld geometry, resulting in a less than desirable outcome.”

Professor Iyuke says, “I am very convinced that Dr Tony Paterson has a lot to contribute to the school, and the field of welding and fabrication. We, as a school, are hopeful that he will take this field of specialisation in the school to greater heights.”

It is obvious that both these men are passionate about welding and fabrication as well as the various industries it operates in.