MSc in Physics Summa Cum Laude for “Senior Student”
Twenty-eight years after being awarded his previous qualification – a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at the then Vaal Triangle Technikon - Mr Oelof Kruger graduated with an MSc in Physics summa cum laude.
Supervisor Professor Naven Chetty noted that examiners commented on the high quality of Kruger’s work and accepted it without corrections.
After completing his diploma, Kruger began work at the National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA), which was part of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) until 2007 when it became an entity under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Kruger is still at NMISA where he is head of the Length Section whose main function is the maintenance, research and dissemination of the realisation of the SI definition of the metre in South Africa. The institute maintains a series of secondary standards that are used in the calibration of equipment submitted by industry.
His job provided Kruger with occasion to conduct extensive research over the years, and after working closely with Kruger, Chetty recommended that he pursue a master’s degree since he already engaged in so much research. This made technical aspects of his thesis like second nature, however the writing up of the thesis, as well as the literature review and publishing of it, presented more of a challenge.
Not only did Kruger complete his MSc with excellent results, he also had a paper based on his work accepted in the prestigious Applied Optics journal. His research concerned the use of a robust air refractometer for accurate compensation of the refractive index of air in everyday use.
Kruger said that the unit of length was defined as the speed of light in a vacuum, however most length or dimensional measurements were performed using lasers, and are performed in air. To make the correction from the vacuum to air, the refractive index of air needs to be measured very accurately, which is what he aimed to achieve.
Kruger thanked Chetty for spurring him on to pursue a master’s degree and for guiding him through the process. He also acknowledged his father as a source of inspiration, as he too completed his MSc and PhD studies later in life.