From SANRAL bursary to Technical Excellence Academy mentor

Shaheil Khoosal presenting to aspirant engineers at the Nelson Mandela University STEM Career Day

SANRAL’s Technical Excellence Academy (TEA) was established a decade ago in 2014. Based at the SANRAL Southern Region offices in the Eastern Cape, over the years the TEA been instrumental in exposing candidate engineers to training and fast-tracking their registration with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as professional engineers.

Shaheil???? Khoosal, a mentor, coach and design engineer at the TEA, was a SANRAL bursary recipient for his undergraduate studies and has been with the roads agency for 12 years. “I was fortunate to occupy many roles in the different phases of the project cycle, similar to our current graduate engineers – that is, as site engineer, design engineer and project manager. I was always keen to be a part of the academy, so when the vacancy for a mentor, coach and design engineer was advertised, I jumped at the opportunity and applied,” Khoosal explains.

A Master of Science in Civil Engineering (2021) holder from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a registered engineer (2018), Khoosal says his role requires him to guide and coach candidates through the requirements set out by ECSA.

“What I enjoy most is seeing the young engineers mature and grow in their respective roles. The learning is mutually beneficial – a lot of the time I find myself learning from our graduate engineers,” he says.

Khoosal says it is a highlight when the candidate engineers eventually apply to ECSA for professional registration. “A big highlight for me over the past year has also been to witness the academy move forward and the traction that the TEA has gained, be it the structured training programme offered to candidate engineers, or the productive discussions and collaborations with other organisations.

Going forward, Khoosal looks forward to contributing and adding value at the TEA by consistently striving for improvement and efficiency. “I would like to see the TEA be a key asset by providing a pool of skilled individuals and leaders to take the organisation forward, as well as being a technical in-house facility to assist regions in the project and planning environment,” he adds.

The TEA programme spans 5 years and is structured so that 11 ECSA outcomes can be achieved:

  • Roughly 2 years are spent on a construction site, where candidates are deployed as part of the consulting engineer’s construction monitoring team.
  • Around another 2 years are spent in a design office, either at the TEA or with part or all of this spent seconded to a consulting engineer’s office where applicable design work is available.
  • A further 3 months is spent in a materials testing laboratory.
  • The remaining time is allocated according to the candidate’s developmental needs to successfully complete the programme and register as a Professional Engineer or Professional Engineering Technologist.


To date, SANRAL’s TEA has provided training to 146 candidate engineers, while it currently has 65 candidate engineers and engineering technologists completing the 5-year programme. To date, the TEA has had 30 alumni register professionally with ECSA.