Summa Cum Laude Student Develops Possible Solution to Public Transport Woes

Top achiever Mr Menzi Skhosana, who was fully sponsored by the Zenex Foundation throughout his senior school years, matriculated at Ogwini Comprehensive Technical High in Umlazi in 2015.

IT classes spurred his interest in programming and convinced him to pursue Computer Science and Information Systems after matric. He chose UKZN for his higher education because it was close to his home and the most reputable university in KwaZulu-Natal.

After honours, his supervisor, Dr Absalom Ezugwu, suggested Skhosana do an MSc which he did with a thesis titled: Irenbus – A Real-Time Machine-Learning-Based Public Transport Management System.

Skhosana’s masters was an extension of his honours project work, which was inspired by his real-life experiences. ‘I’d take a bus from Umlazi to Westville campus every day, and I resented how unreliable and inefficient buses were where I stayed,’ he said. This led him to start working on finding a solution to the situation.

Skhosana’s research focused on developing a real-time machine-learning-based public transport management system, focusing specifically on buses. He developed a prototype comprising a mobile (Android app) and a web application. These applications work together to provide real-time information to commuters about the location of buses and other related information. It also provides bus operators with the ability to use machine learning to predict demand on given routes based on the daily ride patterns of commuters.

Skhosana was awarded his MSc in Computer Science summa cum laude.

Ezugwu described Skhosana as a unique student with huge potential. ‘Saying he is a hard worker is an understatement! He has an inquisitive nature and a love for being challenged.

‘Although he was my student, I have learned a lot from Menzi,’ said Ezugwu.

Skhosana’s research could have a positive impact on society as public transport is the backbone of the economy.

Skhosana says he thoroughly enjoyed his honours and masters years at UKZN. ‘They provided me with a support structure, research resources and tools that made it easier for me to focus on my project.’

During his masters, Skhosana attended two conferences – one local and one international – and was also a prize winner at the 2020 Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium (PRIS) hosted online by UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Skhosana – whose hobbies include coding, photography and skateboarding – is currently working in Johannesburg for Huawei while looking for potential partners/sponsors who might help him implement the public transport management system he developed.

Words: Samantha Ngcongo

Photograph: Supplied