Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Prof Wikus van Niekerk

Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Director of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies

Prof Wikus van Niekerk is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Director of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University. He is registered as a Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (registration no. 940462), and currently evaluated by the NRF as a C2 internationally recognised researcher. He is regularly consulted by industry on a variety of areas including noise and vibration, especially human response to noise and vibration, NVH, vehicle dynamics, renewable energy systems and wave energy.

He completed his PhD on the active control of transient noise transmission at the University of California at Berkeley, working on a project for Mazda Corp and is currently doing research in human response to noise and vibration, seat transmissibility and its effect on automotive NVH, sound quality and optimal design of seats for novel applications. He has a keen interest in wave energy and is investigating the exploitation of wave energy along the southwest coast of South Africa.

Academic Qualifications

  • BEng (Mechanical), cum laude, Stellenbosch University, 1986
  • MEng (Mechanical), cum laude, University of Pretoria, 1989
  • PhD (Mechanical Engineering), University of California at Berkeley, 1994

 

Academic Experience

Aug 2006 to present:Stellenbosch University, Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies
Director
Founded a new research centre at Stellenbosch University funded by the South African National Energy Research Institute. Responsible for strategy, management and coordination of the postgraduate programme in renewable energy, managing research and consulting projects, and liaising with industry, government and international stakeholders. Currently the Centre coordinates a national research effort in renewable energy.
Jan 2003 to Dec 2004:Stellenbosch University, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Chair of Department
Responsible for all academic related matters in the field of mechanical engineering as well as managing staff and budgets. Part of the team instituting a new programme in Mechatronical Engineering at Stellenbosch University. Served on the Management Committee of the Faculty of Engineering.
Jul 2000 to Dec 2007:

Stellenbosch University, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Head of Mechanics Division
Responsible for all academic related matters in the field of mechanics as well as managing laboratories, staff and budgets.

Jan 2000 to present:

Stellenbosch University, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Head of Sound and Vibration Research Group
Research and teaching in the fields of vehicle dynamics, control systems, vibrations and acoustics. Supervised eleven completed Masters theses of which three candidates passed cum laude and two doctoral candidates. Currently supervising two masters and one doctoral student.

Jan 2005 to March 2005:Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
Visiting Researcher
Worked a novel air-spring for suspension seats to reduce whole body vibration exposure.
Jan 2000 to June 2000:Ford Research Laboratories, Dearborn, USA
Visiting Researcher
Worked in Vehicle Vibration Simulator group on seating dynamics and subjective assessment of dynamic comfort.
Jan 1998 to Dec 1999:University of Pretoria, Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
Professor and Sasol Chair in Vehicle Engineering
Jun 1994 to Dec 1997:

University of Pretoria, Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
Associate Professor and Sasol Chair in Vehicle Engineering
Responsible for all academic related matters in the field of vehicle engineering. Taught dynamics and vehicle engineering.

 

Professional Experience

Jan 2001 to Dec 2002:
Jul 2005 to Dec 2006:
Institute for Thermodynamics and Mechanics, Stellenbosch University
Director
Responsible for the management of the Institute including approval of projects and expenditure, management of staff and budgets and reporting to the Faculty structures.
Jul 2000 to present:

Institute for Thermodynamics and Mechanics, Stellenbosch University
Consultant
Managing research and consulting projects, overseeing laboratory testing and field measurements on various noise and vibration projects. Presented short courses in the field of NVH, human response to vibration and general noise and vibration. Clients include THRIP, Ford Motor Company, GMSA, Toyota SA, Optimal Energy (Joule electric car), Bell Equipment, European Union, and smaller local companies.

May 2011 to present:

Sound Research Laboratories South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Director
Professional consultation in the general field of noise and vibration. Projects include noise and vibration measurement and assessment studies, environmental impact assessments

Jun 1998 to present:

JL van Niekerk & Associates cc
Principal Member
Professional consultation in the general field of noise and vibration. Projects include noise and vibration measurement and assessment studies, environmental impact assessments, NVH work for the automotive industry, and development of training material for industry. Clients include Gautrain, SABS, SIMRAC, Ster-Kinekor, Ford Motor Company, various architects, and Anglo American.

Jun 1994 to Dec 1999:Laboratory for Advanced Engineering
Consultant
Completed projects in the fields of noise control feasibility studies, automotive NVH, vibration isolation, and general dynamics, noise and vibration measurement and analysis. Acted as project manager of larger projects involving up to four other researchers. Clients included the automotive, mining, and defence industries, government departments and local authorities.
Feb 1987 to Jun 1989:

Laboratory for Advanced Engineering
Mechanical Engineer
Worked on a variety of consulting and research projects for the automotive, mining, and defence industries. Most of the work involved dynamics, vibrations and acoustics in which experimental, analytical and finite element techniques were employed. Assumed responsibility for all aspects of the projects which included the writing of proposals, completing the technical work, managing technicians and other engineers working on the project and the writing of reports.

 

Fields of Interest

  • Human response to noise and vibration
  • Seat transmissibility and its effect on automotive NVH
  • Environmental and transportation noise and building acoustics
  • Sound quality and applications in NVH. Renewable energy and its contribution to mitigate climate change, in particular solar thermal energy and wave energy
  • Initiating new projects and programmes in an academic environment

 

Journal Papers

Van Niekerk, J.L. and Tongue, B.H., “Active Control of a Circular Membrane to Reduce Transient Noise Transmission,” Transactions of the ASME - Journal of Vibration and Acoustics, Vol. 117, No. 3(A), pp. 252-258, July 1995.

Van Niekerk, J.L., Tongue, B.H. and Packard, A.K., “Active Control of a Circular Plate to Reduce Transient Noise Transmission,” Journal of Sound and Vibration, Vol. 183, No. 4, pp. 643-662, June 1995.

Van Niekerk, J.L. “An Approximate Method to Determine the Optimal Position of Sensors and Actuators for Structures with Repeated Eigen-frequencies,” Journal of the Southern African Acoustics Institute, Vol. 6, pp. 1-12, 1995.

Van Niekerk, J.L. and Tongue, B.H., “On the Active Control of Transient Noise Transmission,” Applied Acoustics, Vol. 50, Issue 1, pp. 1-12, January 1997.

Kleine, S. and van Niekerk, J.L., “The Use of Linear Observers to Estimate Vehicle States During Severe Handling Manoeuvres,” R&D Journal, The South African Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 47-61, July 1997.

Kleine, S. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Modelling and Control of a Steer-by-Wire Vehicle,” R&D Journal, The South African Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 51-64, July 1999.

Mirza, M.A. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Optimal actuator placement for active vibration control with known disturbances,” The Journal of Vibration and Control, Vol. 5, No. 5, pp. 709-724, September 1999.

Van Niekerk, J.L., Heyns, P.S. and Heyns, M., “Human vibration levels in the South African mining industry,” The Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, pp. 235-242, July/August 2000.

Els, P and van Niekerk, J.L., “Dynamic modeling of an off-road vehicle for the design of a semi-active hydropneumatic spring-damper system,” Vehicle System Dynamics, Vol. 33, pp. 566-577, 2000.

Honiball, E.J. and van Niekerk, J.L., “The development of a test specification to determine the rollover protection of passengers in light commercial vehicles fitted with canopies,” Accident Analysis and Prevention,” Vol 33, No. 5, pp. 621-628, 2001.

Van Schoor, O. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Mechanical failures as a contributing cause to motor vehicle accidents – South Africa,” Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol 33, No. 6, pp. 713-721, 2001.

Strydom, J.P.D., Heyns, P.S. and Van Niekerk, J.L., “Development of a vibration-absorbing handle for rock drills,” The Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, pp. 167-172, April 2002.

Van Niekerk, J.L. Pielemeier, W.J. and Greenberg, J.A, “The use of Seat Effective Amplitude Transmissibility (SEAT) values to predict dynamic seat comfort,” Journal of Sound and Vibration, vol. 260, pp. 867-888, 2003.

Van Niekerk, J.L., Morgan, J.P.L. and Cosij, D. “Gautrain tunnels: surface vibration and ground borne noise,” The Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 104, no. 4, pp. 245-249, April 2004.

Giliomee, C.L., Els, P.S. and van Niekerk, J.L. “Anelastic model of a twin accumulator hydro-pneumatic suspension system,” R&D Journal, July 2005, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp 11-17, July 2005.

Wade, A.D. and van Niekerk, J.L. “Investigation into road rumble in a light utility vehicle,” R&D Journal, November 2005, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp 8-13, July 2005.

Gunaselvam, J. and van Niekerk, J.L. “Seat selection guidelines to reduce whole body vibration exposure levels in the SA mining industry,” The Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, November 2005, Vol. 105, No. 10, pp. 675-686, November 2005.

Van der Westhuizen, A. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Verification of seat effective amplitude transmissibility (SEAT) value as a reliable metric to predict dynamic seat comfort”, Journal of Sound and Vibration, Vol. 295, Issue 3-5, pp. 1060-1075, 22 August 2006.

Von Gossler, J. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Sound quality metrics to access road noise in light commercial vehicles,” R&D Journal, The South African Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 19-25, March 2008.

Holtz, M. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Modeling and design of a novel air-spring for suspension seats,” Journal of Sound and Vibration, Vol. 329, No. 21, pp. 4354-4366, October 2010.

 

Conference Proceedings

Yang, X.H., Van Niekerk, J., Parwani, K.S., Hedrick, K., Packard, A. and Tongue, B. “Acoustical Response Tailoring in Reverberant Enclosures using Feedback Control,” ASME Winter Annual Meeting, Anaheim CA, Active Control of Noise and Vibration, Nov. 1992, pp. 7-11.

Yang, X.H., Van Niekerk, J., Parwani, K.S., Packard, A. and Tongue, B., “Attenuation of Structurally Generated Interior Noise Through Active Control,” American Control Conference, San Francisco CA, June 1993, pp. 1 - 7.

Van Niekerk, J.L., Tongue, B.H. and Packard, A.K., “Implementation of an Active Controller to Reduce Transient Noise Transmission Through a Circular Plate,” Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Air- and Structure-Borne Sound and Vibration, Montreal, Canada, June 1994, pp. 1421-1428

Van Niekerk, J.L. and Tongue B.H., “Optimal Positioning of Sensors and Actuators Using Closed-Loop Norms,” Proceedings of the 13th Triennial World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control, Vol P, pp. 273-278, San Francisco, CA, 30 June - 5 July 1996.

Kleine, S. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Modelling and Control of a Steer-by-Wire Vehicle,” Proceedings of the 15th IAVSD Symposium on Dynamics of Vehicles on Road and Tracks, Budapest, Hungary, 25 – 29 August 1997, Supplement to Dynamics of Vehicles on Roads and Tracks, Volume 29, 1998, pp. 114-142.

Els, P.S. and van Niekerk, J.L., “Dynamic Modelling of an Off-Road Vehicle for the Design of a Semi-Active, Hydropneumatic Spring-Damper System,” Proceedings of the 16th IAVSD Symposium on Dynamics of Vehicles on Road and Tracks, Pretoria, South Africa, 30 August – 3 September 1999, Supplement to Dynamics of Vehicles on Roads and Tracks, Volume 33, 1999, pp. 566-577.

Van Niekerk, J.L., Heyns, P.S. and Heyns, M., “Human vibration levels in the South African mining industry,”34th UK Group Meeting on Human Response to Vibration, Ford Motor Company, Dunton, England, 22 – 24 September 1999, pp. 3-14.

Van Niekerk, Pielemeier, W.J. and Greenberg, J.A., “The correlation between SEAT values estimated from averaged transmissibility data and subjective ratings for evaluating the dynamic comfort of 16 automobile seats,”35th UK Group Meeting on Human Response to Vibration, ISVR, University of Southampton, England, 13-15 September 2000.

Pielemeier, W.J., Greenberg, J.A., Jeyabalan, V. and Van Niekerk, J.L., “The estimation of SEAT values from transmissibility data,” SAE World Congress, Detroit, USA, 5-8 March 2001, Published in: Human factors in automotive design, SAE SP-1591, SAE Paper No. 2001-01-0392, pp. 179-186.

Van Niekerk, J.L., “Ground-borne noise and vibration assessment of the Gauteng Rapid Rail Link,” WESPAC VIII, Melbourne, Australia, 7-9 April 2003., pp. 1-4 on CD.

Gunaselvam, J. and Van Niekerk, J.L. “The development of a set of design guidelines for appropriate seat selection in the South African mining industry to reduce whole-body vibration exposure,”38th UK Group Meeting on Human Response to Vibration, Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, England, 17-19 September 2003, pp. 259-269.

Gunaselvam, J. and Van Niekerk, J.L. “The testing of suspension seats for the control of whole-body vibration (WBV) in the South African mining industry,”30th International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes , Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, 05-09 October 2003, pp. 323-335.

Gunaselvam, J. and Van Niekerk, J.L. “Proposed seat selection guidelines for industrial vehicles,” 39th UK Group Meeting on Human Response to Vibration, RMS Laboratories, Ludlow, England, 15-17 September 2004, pp. 263-273.

Van der Westhuizen, A and Van Niekerk, J.L. “The verification of SEAT (Seat Effective Amplitude Transmissibility) value as a reliable metric for the assessment of dynamic seat comfort,” 39th UK Group Meeting on Human Response to Vibration, RMS Laboratories, Ludlow, England, 15-17 September 2004, pp. 249-262.

Morgan, J, Van Niekerk, J.L. and Cosijn, D, “Surface vibration and ground-borne noise impact of the first underground train system in South Africa,” ISMA 2004 International Conference on Noise and Vibration Engineering, Leuven, Belgium, 20-22 September 2004.

Kirstein, J.C. and Van Niekerk, J.L., “Modelling of an articulated dump truck to optimise the different suspension systems to reduce human vibration exposure.” 40th UK Conference on Human Response to Vibration, HSE, Liverpool, England, 13-15 September 2005, pp. 249-262.

Van Niekerk, J.L. and Barnard, C.M. “Suspension seat for high speed, off-shore RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat)” .” 41st UK Conference on Human Response to Vibration, Qinetic, Farnham, England, 20-22 September 2006, pp. 249-262.

Van der Merwe, A.F. Van Niekerk, J.L. and Barnard, C.M. “An air suspension cushion to reduce human operator exposure to whole-body vibration: the final design” .” 41st UK Conference on Human Response to Vibration, Qinetic, Farnham, England, 20-22 September 2006, pp. 249-262.

Kirstein, J.C. and Van Niekerk, J.L., “Suspension system optimisation of an articulated dump truck to reduce whole body vibration,” ISMA 2006 International Conference on Noise and Vibration Engineering, Leuven, Belgium, 18-20 September 2006.