Engineering Management and Sustainable Systems

Research Group Members:

Alan Brent
Professor Extra-Ordinary
Research Groups:
Engineering Management
Sustainable Systems

Imke de Kock
Lecturer
Research Groups:
Engineering Management
Sustainable Systems
Health Systems Engineering

Engineering Management is a specialized form of management that is concerned with the application of engineering principles to business practice. Engineering management often leads to a career that brings together the technological problem-solving abilities of engineering and the organizational, administrative, and planning abilities of management in order to oversee complex systems from conception to completion. Technology management, as a sub-set of engineering management, is a specialized professional practice that captures technology-based innovation opportunities. It guides technological progress, assesses the potential of individual technologies and uses this potential to the benefit of business, society and the environment. It distinguishes five generic processes: a) identification of technologies, which are (or may be) of importance to the business (or context); b) selection of technologies that should be supported by the organization or institution; c) acquisition and assimilation of selected technologies; d) exploitation of technologies to generate profit, or other benefits; and e) protection of knowledge and expertise embedded in systems.

Engineering (and technology) management includes fields such as:

  • Project management
  • Risk management
  • Quality management
  • Performance management
  • Operations management
  • Asset management
  • Innovation management

However, the research group focuses on the transition to a more sustainable economy and society, which will place an emphasis on the management of infrastructure and technology, including the planning and design thereof. This, in turn, requires trans-disciplinary, integrated approaches; since our academic and industrial organisations have great expertise in system components, but still lack experience with the management of the ‘systems of systems’ that constitute our infrastructure and technology at the total societal level. This research group then aims to improve our understanding, and develop the associated capacities and capabilities, of how technical, economic, political and other socio-ecological factors interact, particularly in the context of great uncertainties as we embark on the transition.

The research efforts then include fields such as:

  • Life cycle assessment
  • System thinking
  • Systems dynamics modelling
  • Decision-analysis and -making

The following lists all ongoing or completed research projects:

  1. Technology transfer of hand pumps in rural communities of Swaziland: Towards sustainable project lifecycle management.
  2. From enterprise development to inclusive innovation – a framework for regional innovation support.
  3. An investigation into the effectiveness of an environmental management system (EMS) in the South African petrochemical industry.
  4. Investigating the financial close of projects within the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
  5. An investigation into the normalisation of water and energy use in breweries.
  6. Embedding sustainability into business values: A South African retail case study.
  7. The diversity of the practice of corporate sustainability: An exploratory study in the South African business sector.
  8. A roadmap for developing a competitive CSP industry in South Africa: Current gaps and recommended next steps.
  9. A comparison of Solar Aided Power Generation (SAPG) and stand-alone concentrating solar power (CSP): A South African case study.
  10. Assessing the sustainability of wastewater treatment technologies in the petrochemical industry.
  11. Application of a multi-criteria analysis approach for decision-making: The case of concentrating solar power in South Africa.
  12. An investigation into the effectiveness of corporate sustainability programmes and initiatives in the agricultural sector: The case of British American Tobacco Zimbabwe.
  13. Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Job Creation: An investigation of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
  14. Natural building in South Africa: Assessing the niche-regime relationship through a ‘latent niche’ mediation.
  15. Macroeconomic analysis for on-site electricity generation from renewable resources by large-scale consumers in South Africa.
  16. A systems approach to understanding the effect of Facebook use on the quality of interpersonal communication.
  17. Utility-scale PV power and energy supply outlook for South Africa in 2015.
  18. Concentrating Solar Power: Improving electricity cost and security of supply, and other economic benefits.
  19. Modelling the transition towards a green economy in South Africa, and in the Western Cape Province.
  20. Technology assessment in developing countries: Sustainable energy systems in the African context.

The following lists the institutions with which the group collaborates on projects:

  • Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, Stellenbosch University.
  • School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University.
  • Sustainability Institute.
  • University of Stellenbosch Business School.
  • Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria.
  • Postgraduate School of Engineering Management, University of Johannesburg.
  • Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town.
  • South African System Dynamics Chapter.
  1. Giglmayr S, Brent AC, Gauché P, Fechner H, 2015. Utility-scale PV power and energy supply outlook for South Africa in 2015. Renewable Energy 83, 779-785.
  2. Walwyn DR, Brent AC, 2015. Renewable energy gathers steam in South Africa. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 41, 390-401.
  3. Gauché P, von Backström TW, Brent AC, Rudman J, 2015. CSP opportunity and challenges in a national system: The WWF renewable vision for a 2030 South African electricity mix. SolarPACES, Cape Town, South Africa.
  4. Anderson-Terry B, Musango JK, Brent AC, 2015. HIV and AIDS in South Africa: The perfect storm. 1st International Workshop on System Dynamics, Big Data and Cloud Computing, Nairobi, Kenya.
  5. Musango JK, Brent AC, van Niekerk JBS, Jonker WD, Pienaar AP, York TA, Oosthuizen J, Duminy L, de Kock IH, 2015. A system dynamics approach to understand the implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Boston, USA.
  6. de Villiers J, Musango JK, Brent AC, 2015. A system dynamics model of the individual decisions of a salaried employee in saving for retirement. International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Boston, USA.
  7. Duminy L, Brent AC, Musango JK, 2015. Commercial fishing and aquaculture implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape. International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), Cape Town, South Africa.
  8. van Niekerk JBS, Brent AC, Musango, 2015. Agriculture sector implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), Cape Town, South Africa.
  9. Pienaar AP, Brent AC, Musango JK, 2015. Water resource implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa: A modelling approach review. International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), Cape Town, South Africa.
  10. York TA, Brent AC, Musango JK, 2015. Infrastructure implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), Cape Town, South Africa.
  11. Jonker WD, Brent AC, Musango JK, 2015. Modelling the production of biofuel within the Western Cape, South Africa. International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), Cape Town, South Africa.
  12. Gauché P, Brent AC, von Backström TW, 2014. Concentrating Solar Power: Improving electricity cost and security of supply, and other economic benefits. Development Southern Africa, 31 (5), 692-710.
  13. Lotz M, Brent AC, 2014. Carbon Footprinting Guide: A practical footprinting calculation guide focusing on measuring, monitoring, reporting and verification. Nedbank, Sandton.
  14. Pieters IJ, Lotz M, Brent AC, 2014. Investigating the financial close of projects within the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. South African Journal of Industrial Engineering 25 (3), 57-68.
  15. Grobbelaar S, Gauché P, Brent AC, 2014. A roadmap for developing a competitive CSP industry in South Africa: Current gaps and recommended next steps. Development Southern Africa, 31 (3), 475-493.
  16. Musango JK, Brent AC, Tshangela M, 2014. Green economy transitioning of the South African power sector: A system dynamics analysis approach. Development Southern Africa, 31 (5), 744-758.
  17. Musango JK, Brent AC, Bassi A, 2014. Modelling the transition towards a green economy in South Africa. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 87, 257-273.
  18. Clifford-Holmes JK, Slinger JH, Musango JK, Brent AC, 2014. Using system dynamics to explore the water supply and demand dilemmas of a small South African municipality. International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Delft, the Netherlands.
  19. Currie P, Radmore J, Musango JK, Brent AC, 2014. Sanitation technology options in informal settlement: A system dynamics approach. International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Delft, the Netherlands.
  20. Davies M, Musango JK, Brent AC, 2014. A systems approach to understanding the effect of Facebook use on the quality of interpersonal communication. International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Delft, the Netherlands.
  21. Gauché P, von Backström TW, Brent AC, 2013. A concentrating solar power value proposition for South Africa. Journal of Energy in Southern Africa 24 (1), 66-76.
  22. Brent AC, 2013. Transdisciplinary approaches to engineering R&D: Importance of understanding values and culture. In: Kauffman J, Lee K-M (Eds.): Handbook of Sustainable Engineering. Springer, London.
  23. Brent AC, Tredoux C, 2013. Integrating sustainability into technology-oriented project management: Cases from South Africa. In: Silvius G, Tharp J (Eds.): Sustainability integration for effective project management. IGI Global Business Science Reference, Hershey, PA.
  24. Baraki YA, Brent AC, 2013. Technology transfer of hand pumps in rural communities of Swaziland: Towards sustainable project lifecycle management. Technology in Society 35, 258-266.
  25. Pierce W, Gauché P, Brent AC, Tadros A, 2013. A comparison of Solar Aided Power Generation (SAPG) and stand-alone concentrating solar power (CSP): A South African case study. Applied Thermal Engineering, 61, 657-662.
  26. Meerholz A, Brent AC, 2013. Assessing the sustainability of wastewater treatment technologies in the petrochemical industry. South African Journal of Industrial Engineering, 24 (2), 1-11.
  27. Haywood L, Brent AC, Trotter D, Faccer K, 2013. The diversity of the practice of corporate sustainability: An exploratory study in the South African business sector. World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, 9 (2/3), 111-125.
  28. Musango JK, Brent AC, 2013. Application of a new framework for energy technology sustainability assessment: Results from survey. International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), Porto Alegre, Brazil.
  29. Musango JK, Brent AC, Bassi AM, 2013. Development of the South African Green Economy Model (SAGEM). International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Cambridge, USA.
  30. Musango JK, Brent AC, Pretorius L, Müller H, 2013. Tutorial on the application of a systems approach to technology sustainability assessment (SATSA): the case of biodiesel production development. International Sustainable Development Research Conference (ISDRC), Stellenbosch, South Africa.

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