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NICKY WOLMARANSNICKY WOLMARANS is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town in the Department of Civil Engineering.  She holds a BSc and MSc in mechanical engineering and a PhD in engineering education. After a short time in industry she took up a lecturing post in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Over the past 17 years she has taught across the civil and mechanical engineering programmes, in design and engineering science courses. She also contributes to a postgraduate course in knowledge and curriculum in a Higher Education Studies programme and will be convening a new PhD programme specialising in engineering education commencing in 2019. Her current position is that of ‘Academic Development Lecturer’ in the Department of Civil Engineering, a somewhat contested position introduced in 2008 in an effort to improve the educational experience of students with the hope that it would improve success rates. With a PhD in engineering education, Dr Wolmarans’ research interests lie in understanding impediments to student progression that disciplinary knowledge introduces and in so doing, broadening access to knowledge that makes a difference.



BRANDON COLLIER-REED is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. It was while pursuing a PhD in low-cost automation and robotics that his fascination with teaching his first-year class convinced him to switch directions completely and embark on a PhD that considered technological literacy. Acknowledging that students bring with them to the engineering classroom different understandings of the nature of technology as well as different levels of technological literacy, he turned his research focus to what was happening in the classroom and its influence on student engagement. 

His current research is on understanding student engagement with a specific interest on how the use of ICTs in the classroom can impact engagement. His most recent work, understanding the use of a “backchannel” during lectures, has highlighted the levels of alienation experienced by many students in a classroom space. He has typically adopted and interpretivist approach to his research and is probably best known for the work he has undertaken using the approach known as phenomenography.

Brandon is the past President of the South African Society of Engineering Education, a Fellow of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering and is a registered Professional Mechanical Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa.

BRUCE KLOOT is a Senior Academic Development Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His undergraduate degree was obtained from the University of the Witwatersrand in Chemical Engineering while his Master’s was in the area of Energy Studies, focusing on issues of rural development and drawing on anthropology to understand a rural energy intervention. After spending some time in secondary education, working as a teacher to support educationally disadvantaged learners, he took up a position at UCT that has developed into his current role.

At about this time, Bruce embarked on his PhD in Engineering Education, being supervised by Prof Jenni Case (now at Virginia Tech, USA) and Delia Marshall (at the University of the Western Cape). His doctorate drew on the theoretical tools of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to provide a critical perspective on extended degree programmes in South African higher education. He graduated in 2011 and has since published a number of articles and book chapters in the fields of engineering education and higher education studies.

Bruce is on the Board of REEN (Research in Engineering Education Network) and is the Conference Chair for the upcoming Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES 2019) that is to be held in Cape Town.


KATE LE ROUX is a Senior Lecturer in Language Development for Engineering and Science in the Centre for Higher Education (CHED). She has academic qualifications in English, pure mathematics, teaching and mathematics education research. During her academic career her research and teaching interests converged at the intersection of language, mathematics and the learning of disciplinary knowledge in science and engineering.  This work has a particular focus on equity issues related to access, identity, power and design in the higher education context.

Kate holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research draws on critical linguistics (including multimodality) and critical mathematics education for multi-level, critical analyses of student literacy practices as they transition to and through undergraduate and postgraduate studies Engineering and Science.  

Kate is a former Director of CREE and current Chair of the CHED Faculty Research Committee. She is a member of the International Committee of Mathematics Education and Society (MES), and Co-chair for the Topic Study Group “Social and Political Dimensions of Mathematics Education” for 14th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME), Shanghai, China, 2020.

RENEÉ SMIT works as a senior Academic Development Lecturer (ADL) in the department of Electrical Engineering. ADLs work on the boundary between the disciplinary expertise and principled pedagogic practice, enabling academic staff to develop as reflective practitioners. Her work also involves support for curriculum development and various aspects of student development.

Reneé obtained her PhD in Engineering Education from the University of Cape Town. Her research interest is the field of higher education studies broadly, and in particular engineering professional education. Her work has two foci. She works at the intersection of professional education in engineering, the nature of engineering knowledge and the applied philosophy of engineering. The research has implications for educating engineers but also for collaborative work between practitioners in science and engineering. The other aspect of her research is closely aligned with her work as an ADL. It involves scholarly reflection on the student experience in engineering education and exploring alternatives to a deficit mind-set in relation to student diversity.