Celebrating 25 years of service

Submitted by Andie de Villiers on Fri, 12/13/2019 - 11:11

For more than 25 years the South African Association for Mechanics (SAAM) has fostered, promoted, coordinated and organized various activities concerning theoretical, experimental and computational mechanics in South Africa. SAAM also represented South African interests in theoretical, experimental and applied mechanics as an affiliate of the International Association for Computational Mechanics (IACM) and the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM) for this period.

The story of SAAM begins in 1992 around a lunch table. The purpose of this lunch was to decide on the venue for the next FEMSA (Finite Element Methods in South Africa) conference. Amongst the diners were the soon to be formed founding committee of SAAM namely John Martin, Jat du Toit, Daya Reddy, Rudi du Preez and Nielen Stander. After the Second National Computational Fluid Dynamics Symposium, held in Vereeniging in June 1991, the idea of forming the South African CFD Society took root in Jat’s mind. On the advice of Oden Tinsley, a keynote speaker at this conference, the idea was augmented to include a larger group of scientists and engineers and grouping it into the South African Association for Computational Mechanics (SAACM). This association could be an IACM affiliate in South Africa. John Martin was at the same time investigating the possibility of forming a national body which could be affiliated with IUTAM. The idea of a new association was met with great enthusiasm and it was decided to include theoretical, experimental and computational mechanicists in its constituency. By the end of lunch, it was decided to go ahead with the formation of the newly named SAAM. The complete founding council consisted of

  • Prof JB Martin
  • Prof CG du Toit
  • Prof BD Reddy
  • Prof RJ du Preez
  • Prof N Stander
  • Prof S Adali
  • Prof BW Skews
  • Dr P Carter

Next followed an exciting time that marked many ‘firsts’ for the young association. An introductory newsletter, including the proposed bylaws, was sent out in May 1992 followed by the first formal newsletter in June 1993. The first meeting of the founding council was held on 21 October 1993. SAAM was accepted as an affiliate of IACM in the first half of 1994. John Martin attended the general assembly of IUTAM in August 1994 where the South African application for membership was accepted by acclamation. The first financial year of SAAM ended in December 1994. The first South African Conference on Applied Mechanics was held in Midrand in 1996. This conference incorporated the 4th National Symposium on CFD, the 14th Symposium on FEMSA, the 5th Aerospace Engineering Conference and the Annual Seminar of the Strain Society.

This year we celebrate 25 years of service. We think with gratitude of the founding council and presidents who served over the years:

  • Prof John Martin              1992-1996
  • Prof Daya Reddy              1996-2000
  • Dr Igle Gledhill                  2000-2008
  • Prof Jat du Toit                 2008-2010
  • Prof Schalk Kok                 2010-2016
  • Prof Sebastian Skatulla   2016-current

 We also want to highlight the equally long-standing SACAM conference series (and commemorate its organisers) held in different parts of the country:

  • 1996      Midrand
  • 1998      Cape Town
  • 2000      Durban
  • 2004      Johannesburg
  • 2006      Cape Town
  • 2008      Cape Town
  • 2010      Pretoria
  • 2012      Johannesburg
  • 2014      Somerset-West
  • 2016      Potchefstroom
  • 2018      Vanderbijlpark

These examples of scientists and engineers rendering generous professional service over the past 25 years cannot but inspire and compel young engineers and scientists to emulate them. We look forward and know if we can follow in the impactful footsteps of these men, mechanics in South Africa will continue to flourish.

Dr Andie de Villiers

(Vice-President of SAAM)