Jacobus Daniel van der Walt, PhD
Preferred name Daniel - Cited as: J.D. van der Walt
Senior Lecturer (~Associate Professor in the U.S.) in Civil Engineering | Pūkenga Matua
ENG ME! Lead | Pouakorangi
Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering | Pūhanga Metarahi me te Rawa Taiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Christchurch, New Zealand | Ōtautahi, Aotearoa
Connect with me on LinkedIn
"Engineers care for communities on a grand scale"
Dr Jacobus (preferred name Daniel) currently holds the position of Senior Lecturer (~Associate Professor in the U.S.) in the Department of Civil and Natural Resource Engineering (CNRE) at the University of Canterbury. His interests are in the areas of asset management, pavement engineering, network data, construction management, project delivery, and procurement.
His research group focuses on extracting additional information out of maintenance databases by leveraging modern computing techniques. In addition, they develop methods to optimize collaboration and procurement during construction and maintenance.
While having published and represented the university in several international journals and conferences, Daniel also works with local New Zealand contractors to optimise construction and maintenance processes.
Internationally, Daniel consults with multiple groups including the World Bank, developing transportation asset management strategies for developing countries.
Inspiring the next generation
Daniel van der Walt has been teaching at CNRE since 2017. His teaching is linked to infrastructure asset management in the double-streamed undergraduate courses. The topic of infrastructure asset management is not particularly popular among students, and Daniel has therefore devoted much energy and effort to make the topic (and the course) more interesting and engaging for students. The success of his efforts is shown by the trajectory of Daniel’s teaching scores. In master level courses, which are closer to his research area, his teaching scores are even stronger (4.5 to 4.8). Additionally, this is demonstrated by Daniel's course in Risk Management being one of the most popular courses in Engineering at the master's level.
An important reason for Daniel’s success is his well-developed pedagogic philosophy, which he implements in all his teaching. Two important cornerstones of his philosophy are (1) real-world relevance and (2) showcasing the latest advancements in the field.
For example, Daniel uses real-world examples and involves professionals in strategic ways in his teaching. These approaches help to motivate students and prepare them for their professional careers. This link between pedagogic philosophy and practice illustrates the maturity of Daniel’s pedagogic thinking.
Perhaps the most impressive contribution to the faculty teaching is Daniel’s involvement in ENG ME! Mentoring Programme. Since 2018, he has been the ENG ME! leader, which involves responsibilities for the coordination, recruitment, planning, and leadership of the program (with the help of the ENG ME! team - 5 students and 4 staff). The ENG ME! peer-mentoring program has, for many years, helped first-year students (1200+) by offering tutoring and academic help sessions across engineering. Daniel has been instrumental in setting the strategic direction and ensuring the effective management of ENG ME!, and has therefore helped numerous students through their first year.