Celebrating 41 years of service to the geomatics profession

  |  by Nathan Titus, SAGI Western Cape

Geomatics veteran Raubie Raubenheimer will retire as Head of Department: Surveying and GIS at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) at the end of this academic year, having served the geomatics profession for 41 years. He also served several voluntary organisations such as the South African Geomatics Council and the South African Geomatics Institute. Nathan Titus, a former student of his, gives an overview of Raubie Raubenheimer’s long career.

Raubie Raubenheimer
Raubie Raubenheimer

Jacobus Hendrik Raubenheimer was born on 18 September 1953 in Bethlehem, Free State, the only child to farmer Piet and house wife Marie Raubenheimer. It was during his standard 8 (today grade 10) year that he accompanied his cousin, Koos Mostert, on a survey of their farm which sparked his interest in geomatics. It later led him to working for surveyor Andrew Watt in Ceres during holidays. He matriculated from boarding-school in 1971, and attributes his Afrikaans teacher, Mr Koen, who was very strict on spelling and grammar, for teaching him to be precise and to pay attention to detail.

After matriculating, he registered for a BSc Land Surveying at the University of Pretoria and completed the four-year degree in 1975. At university he was a member of the Landmeetkunde Studentevereniging, and with fellow student, Adri de la Rey, appeared on national radio to promote surveying as a career and highlighted the integral part that land surveyors perform in society.

His articles years were spent with Slabbert and Mostert, based in Vereeniging, where he gained practical experience on various projects in and around Vanderbiljpark, Sasolburg, Secunda and Vereeniging.

Knowing and treasuring the value of education, Raubie also completed a course in Educational Technology in 1984 and a Diploma in Datametrics in 1988 at the University of South Africa, and attended various conferences locally and internationally as delegate and as part of the organising committeee. He later registered for a post-grad course in surveying, and in 1995 completed his M.Sc. Engineering in Geographical Information Science (GISc) at the University of Cape Town, with his thesis titled “Geographical information system as a map and survey database for a selected area”.

Career in academia

His career in academia started on 1 September 1977 at the Cape College for Advanced Technical Education, next to the Cape Town City hall, where he, Dirk Kotze and Jack Phelan were lecturers. The institution was later re-named Cape Technikon, now CPUT. During his time as a CPUT academic, he lectured approximately 5300 students in more than 15 different courses. He still has all his class lists since he started lecturing at the institution in 1977. At least six of his current and former colleagues at CPUT were former students of his.

During 1989 and 1990, Raubie chaired the committee responsible for developing the national three-year diploma courses for surveying and cartography. He also served on the Certification of Technikon Education committee (SERTEC) in 1991, 1996 and 2000, and in 2002 on the Namibia Polytechnic committee to evaluate the courses offered by these institutions. Later he served as chairperson of the self-evaluation committees of Surveying at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and Town Planning at CPUT in 2008 and in 2013 respectively.

Council and institute involvement

Raubie joined the Transvaal Institute of Land Surveyors as a student member in 1976 and joined the Institute of Topographical and Engineering Surveyors of South Africa (ITESSA) in 1986. He was the Western Cape branch chairperson of both ITESSA and the South African Geomatics Institute (SAGI), before being elected as national vice-president of SAGI in 2008 to oversee its education programmes.

He was appointed as alternate member of the Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO) from 1989 to 1997, and has also been a member of the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) since 1992. He is currently the chairperson of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) committee of the South African Geomatics Council (SAGC). At the 30th annual meeting of PLATO (now SAGC), Raubie was given a plaque by the council’s president in “recognition of exceptional services rendered to the survey profession”.

Life after retirement

After years of being deeply embedded in the industry, Raubie will not be deserting the profession entirely. He plans to spend more time with his family. Incidentally, he was introduced to his wife, Ronélle, by a common friend in the Cape Town Surveyor General’s Office, where she, a lawyer working for a conveyancing firm at the time, was doing research. They married in 1985 and raised two children.

Apart from spending more time with his family, Raubie wishes to serve SAGC and SAGI on a more fulltime basis and to become more involved in community initiatives. He also wants to help formerly disadvantaged schools with mathematics and science with the goal to promote the geomatics profession. Travelling the country to visit local historical places is another item on his bucket list. If anything, Raubie jokingly says, “I will drink coffee a bit later in the mornings than usual.”

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