Professor Sinha obtained his B. Eng, M. Eng and Ph.D. degrees in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pretoria (UP). He achieved both his B. Eng and M. Eng with distinction. As a published researcher, he has authored or co-authored approximately 110 publications in peer-reviewed journals, books and at international conferences. In addition, he is the managing editor of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) Africa Research Journal. Prof Sinha served UP for over a decade; his last service being as Director of the Carl and Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronics, Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering. Together with his research group, he conducted teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, researched and performed extensive management tasks. To allow for continuation of postgraduate leadership, he was appointed as extraordinary professor at UP. On 1 October 2013, Prof Sinha was appointed as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). On 1 Dec. 2017, Prof Sinha was appointed as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation.
During his term as Executive Dean, he has significantly contributed to the UJ Global Excellence and Stature Strategic Goal and this contribution is reflected, both quantifiably and qualitatively, in research and innovation, teaching and learning, international profile for global excellence and stature (GES), national and global reputation management, and fitness for GES. During his 4-year term as dean, stellar achievements include, the successful attraction of globally renowned academics, tripling the research/external funding to the faculty, increasing the research publication outputs by 2.3 to over 360 units, significantly growing graduate outputs, to over 2000 graduates in 2016, quadrupling the number of NRF rated researchers, approximately doubling the intake of international students to over 900 students (1 in 10 FEBE students), despite disciplinary scarcity – the FEBE transformation reflects 1 in 2 new academic recruits are from designated communities, and many others. Along with these leadership or management achievements, Prof Sinha’s research group submitted 25 publication units (recognised 2 journal articles, book chapters, books and conference proceedings) to the DHET for 2016 and a similar figure for 2017. Prof Sinha is rated, until end of 2024, as an established researcher – the rating was granted by the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa.
Beyond his academic contributions, Prof Sinha remains an active member of several professional societies. Significant elected positions include 2014-2015 IEEE Vice President: Educational Activities and IEEE Board of Directors. IEEE is a global engineering society, over 130 years in age, and constituting 420,000 members in over 190 countries. To our knowledge, this was the first occasion where such an appointment occurred from the African continent and the election of Prof Sinha was therefore significant for this reason as well.
As of 1 Oct. 2018, Prof Sinha was appointed by the South African cabinet to serve as a member of the South African NRF Board and was subsequently appointed to chair the research and development committee (RDC) of the NRF Board. He’s also a member of the Human Resources (HR) & Remuneration committee of the NRF Board. He is a member of the Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC) Board (a City of Johannesburg owned entity), chairs the social, ethics and HR committee of the MTC Board. For UJ, he chairs the Board of the Resolution Circle (RC) – a UJ owned company geared towards technical professional education. He has served the RC Board for over 5 years. Prof Sinha also Chairs, in 2019, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) Board.
He is also the recipient of the 2007 SAIEE Engineer of the Year Award, 2010 UP Laureate Award and 2013 TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award for his outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) through research and its outputs. In 2017, Prof Sinha was a finalist in the 2016/2017 NSTF-South32 Awards – TW Kambule Award (Management Category). Prof Sinha, a registered professional engineer, also served as an industrial consultant for Business Enterprises at the University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd; in this role – he served a number of industrial sectors, both public and private. Prof Sinha currently serves on committees of international, national, regional and professional societies. In the recent past, he has served on the Electrical Engineering Professional Advisory Committee, Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). ECSA is a signatory of the Washington Accord, International Engineering Alliance (IEA).
Q: When did you know you wanted to become an Engineer or what lead you to becoming an engineer?
I have always been interested in finding meaningful solutions that enable people in different ways. This could be from electrification to agriculture and other ways. The quest for solutions, which engage various disciplines, led me to engineering. Engineering programmes in South Africa are designed, in a holistic way, and also inclusive of humanities and the social sciences (HASS). My quest was initially achieved through electronic engineering.
Q: What was your university experience like? did you have an internship experience while in school?
At the time when I pursued my qualification, in the ‘90s, a number of South African companies offered bursaries (scholarships) and the ‘standard’ approach was for each year of study, a work-back obligation. This was, of course, fine as it would guarantee employment. My original study sponsor was the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) (now the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation (DWS)). Following a short stint, during my study period, I however transited to Kentron (now Denel Dynamics, a State Owned Company (SOC)). In both organizations, I pursued internship work. At DWAF, it was in the area of radio telemetry, i.e. how dams connected through radios (radio frequency engineering), reported on water-levels and associated monitoring. At Kentron, quite different to DWAF, I worked on communication systems, i.e. how missiles communicated with ground stations and how such communication should be kept secure.
Q: How did you get your first job?
With the aforementioned work-back obligation, related to my study, the employment routed to Kentron. Shortly thereafter, I decided to however pursue my postgraduate studies and was funded, under a merit bursary scheme, through the National Research Foundation (NRF). I kept alive my relation with the external engineering profession through a serious of contract work lasting over 10-years. This was facilitated by a company of the University of Pretoria, BE at UP (Pty) Ltd. This allowed me to progress, also as an engineer, within academia and could therefore also register as a professional engineer.
Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Engineer?
Complemented with HASS, Engineers have an approach for holistic thinking. This thought paradigm is the biggest reward and applying this to solve people’s problems another. Engineers solve the widest range of problems – from technical to non-technical and are team players with others.
Aside, I must also say that being an active volunteer of the IEEE has been extremely rewarding. Aligning my technical, developing my professional skills and profession, through IEEE continues to be a remarkable reflection.
Q: What other advice do you have for students?
The future of work will inevitably change. Embracing change as trans-formative and an enabler to a sustainable society should remain a guide. With this principle, for sustainable development goals, the second part is to associate with like-minded individuals; generations today are positively minded and such an association is key to one, and to society’s, progress.