Salome Naiker talks sweat, spaghetti and skyscrapers

When did you qualify as a civil engineer?

I qualified in 2006 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

What influenced your choice of career?

When I was younger, I could never understand the way EB Cloete Interchange (‘Spaghetti Junction’) in Durban worked. So one day my dad stopped on the highest-level ramp and showed me exactly how it all fitted together. It was at this moment that civil engineering became my passion.

How did you pay for your studies?

I received an external bursary for the last two years of my studies.

What would you be doing if you hadn’t trained as an engineer?

That’s a difficult question. I had civil engineering as my first, second and third choice for university applications!

What is the best part of what you do?

That moment when the construction of my project is complete and I can see my contribution to infrastructure in South Africa – the culmination of hard work, sweat and prayer.

What’s the worst?

Most definitely politics.

Bridge or intersection? Why?

Intersections/interchanges – Spaghetti Junction!

Which structure in the world do you wish you had designed?

The Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. It shows the sky isn’t the limit, it’s just another strata.

Any myths around engineering you’d like to bust?

That it’s a male industry. Women are more than capable of performing design and construction-related activities.

Are women engineers discriminated against?

We live in an age that supports female growth in the industry. I am proud to work for SANRAL, which sets targets for female employment from all our service providers. It’s one step towards making a difference.

What advice would you give girls who want to pursue a career in engineering?

This career allows you to see tangible evidence of your contribution to our country’s infrastructure. It is gratifying as an individual to be able to add benefit to another person’s life. If this is the passion in your heart, follow it no matter what your gender is.

That moment when the construction of my project is complete
and I can see my contribution to infrastructure in South Africa

Learn the Lingo

Talk like an engineer...

Pietermaritzburg engineer Ravi Ronny helps our readers to talk like an engineer...


For divided freeways, this is the central strip that separates the opposing lanes of traffic (eg the N2 around Durban or the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg).


Where two or more roads meet using grade separation. It incorporates one or more ramps and permits traffic on at least one of the crossing roads to pass through the junction without crossing any other traffic stream.

Borrow Pit

An area where material (soil or gravel) has been excavated for use on a road for construction purposes.


A short section of road that allows vehicles to enter or exit the highway and generally called off-ramps (exits) or on-ramps (entrances).