Kenneth Knight

From Wikitia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Kenneth Knight
Add a Photo
Born23 March 1922
Durban, South Africa
Died2 November 2018
Durban, South Africa
CitizenshipSouth Africa
Alma materUniversity of Witwatersrand
Scientific career
ThesisThe collapse of structure of sandy sub-soils on wetting
Doctoral advisorJeremiah Edmund Bowden Jennings

Kenneth ‘KK’ Knight (23 March 1922 – 2 November 2018) was a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He served as Head of Department between 1967 and 1982[1] and as Dean of the Faculty during 1969/1971[2]. Prof Knight was a passionate teacher and researcher in geotechnical and pavement engineering[1].


Born in Durban, South Africa on 23 March 1922, Kenneth Knight matriculated from Parktown Boys' High School in 1939. After serving five years in the South African Naval Forces, he continued his studies at the University of the Witwatersrand graduating with a BSc (Eng) Civil Engineering in 1949. During his university studies he was an active student leader serving on the Students Engineering Council.[2]

After spending several years working as an engineer for the Springs and Johannesburg Municipalities he returned to Wits as a lecturer in 1955. Here he worked on collapsible soils and presented his PhD thesis titled “The collapse of structure of sandy sub-soils on wetting” in 1960. Following this he spent nine months as an honorary visiting Lecturer at Imperial College London.[3]

In 1963 he was appointed as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He was made full Professor in 1967 and served as the Head of Department until his retirement in 1982.[2]

During his professional career he was much in demand as consultant on foundation engineering projects such as piling, ground freezing, and the foundations for multistorey buildings, concrete mining headgears, and large mill houses. After retiring he remained an active consultant.[2]

Prof Knight, considered being a whole engineer, required active engagement within one’s society. Consequently, he served for several years as Chairman of Northcliff Primary School board and held many appointments in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.[2]

He died in Durban, South Africa on 2 November 2018. He was married to Antoinette with whom he had four daughters and a son, and later several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.[4]


Prof Kenneth Knight was an active advocate of equal access to engineering during apartheid. During his 1977 South African Institute of Civil Engineers Presidential address he stated, “My ideal is that of educating and training engineers of any ethnic group and of either sex to perform engineering work whenever engineering work is required to be done for the benefit of the community.”[5] His advocacy was responsible for promoting the career of Trueman Goba, the first black SAICE president, and of Allyson Lawless, the first female SAICE president.[1]

His contributions to geotechnical engineering include research on collapse soils[6][7] in collaboration with Jeremiah Edmund Bowden Jennings, and the effect of bentonite on the skin friction on cast-in-situ piles and diaphragm walls[8]. He also contributed to the use of gap graded mixes for asphalt overlays[9]. Knight was also the Chairman of the organising committee for the first Conference on Asphalt Pavements for southern Africa held in Durban in 1969, which now continues on a five yearly cycle.[1]

In addition to serving as SAICE president he also served a number of terms as Chair of the Durban Branch of SAICE. He also served the wider engineering fraternity by sitting on the South African Council for Professional Engineers council and education advisory committee.[10]


For his contributions to geotechnical engineering, Kenneth Knight was awarded the 1992 South African Institute of Civil Engineers Geotechnical Division Medal[3]. In 1995, he was awarded the SAICE Gold Medal, which is the institutes highest honour that can be bestowed on a Corporate Member.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "UKZN honours former head of its Department of Civil Engineering" (PDF). asphaltNEWS. April 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Our President for 1977: Kenneth Knight". The Civil Engineer in South Africa. January: 2. 1977.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The South African Geotechnical Medal". The South African Geotechnical Division. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  4. "The Mercury 2018 11 November - eGGSA Newspaper Extracts". Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  5. Kenneth, Knight (1977). "The civil engineer and society". The Civil Engineer in South Africa. April: 69–83.
  6. Jennings, JE; Knight, KE (1975). A guide to construction on or with materials exhibiting additional settlement due to "collapse" of grain structures. Sixth Regional Conference for Africa on SOIL MECHANICS & FOUNDATION ENGINEERING. pp. 99–105.
  7. Jennings, JE; Knight, K (1957). "The Additional Settlement of Foundations due to a Collapse of Structure of Sandy Subsoils on Wetting" (PDF). 4th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering: 316–319.
  8. Wates, JA; Knight, K (1975). The effect of bentonite on the skin friction in cast-in-place piles and diaphragm walls. Sixth Regional Conference on SOIL MECHANICS & FOUNDATION ENGINEERING. pp. 183–188.
  9. Knight, K.; Groth, P.; Akeroyd, F. M. L. (1972). "THE USE OF GAP GRADED MIXES IN ASPHALT OVERLAY". Third International Conference on the Structural Design of Asphalt Pavements: 1178–1187.
  10. Kruger, AM. "The History of the South African Council for Professional Engineers 1968 - 1991" (PDF). Retrieved 16 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "SAICE - Membership Categories". SAICE. Retrieved 2021-09-16.

External links

Add External links

This article "Kenneth Knight" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.