Vernon Davids is setting an example by pursuing dual doctorate degrees: a DTech at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and a PhD at the University of Paris.
Davids set himself the target of getting his PhD at age 30 xand he is about to reach this goal.
As a young boy he was mesmerised by the James Bond movies his parents loved to watch, and confesses that his fascination with gadgets led to quite a few household appliances being destroyed in his experiments.
Now he is involved in the building of a prototype satellite (the F’SATI programme) having chosen the field of electrical engineering.
Davids points to some eccentric science teachers in both primary and high school, who stirred his passion for the subject. He has had several mentors on tertiary level, but mentions Professor Robert van Zyl, director of the French South African Institute of Technology, as well as the support of his entire family, as being an integral part of his achievements.
Asked about the importance of awards, Davids says he is his own biggest critic and does not see awards as a goal in themselves.
“I find inspiration in nature and interactions with interesting people and I never have awards in mind when starting a project,” he explains.
Being in the process of achieving his first goal, his next goal is setting up his own research and development company by age 40, employing passionate scientists to develop life-changing technologies.
Davids points to challenges – the tenet of science – as having been part of his career so far. But his life motto is never to stop, never to settle and added to this is his belief that life without knowledge is death in disguise (quoting Talib Kweli).
He wants to help in the development of deprived areas such as Khayelitsha, developing cost-effective solutions to the existing socio-economic problems, while seeing South Africa becoming a developed country.
He laughingly points to the challenge of getting to his classes as something he might want to address – the rail and infrastructural inefficiencies – and he still wants to learn to play the trumpet. — Ilse Ferreira