Umvoto Africa groundwater intern wins top UK university award

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Dec. 8, 2009 -- UK-born Matt Webb, who is currently doing an internship at groundwater consultancy Umvoto Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, has won the prestigious Entec hydrogeology prize...

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L-R: Umvoto Africa hydrogeologist Helen Seyler, who oversees the company's interns program, with Entec prizewinner and Umvoto intern Matt Webb.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Dec. 8, 2009 -- UK-born Matt Webb, who is currently doing an internship at groundwater consultancy Umvoto Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, has won the prestigious Entec hydrogeology prize.

This annual award is presented to the University of Birmingham student with the highest marks for an M.Sc in Hydrogeology.

Webb, 26, joins a select group of Birmingham graduates who have won this £250 prize -- Catriona Allan-Grant, an Umvoto intern in 2007, and Sheila Imrie, a new Umvoto senior hydrogeologist, are previous recipients.

"Matt worked very hard throughout the course: he sought to do the best at all aspects of his study, prepared a very good research project and achieved an excellent result overall that he thoroughly deserved," said Rae Mackay, Professor of Hydrogeology at the University.

Webb, who hails from the Lake District, said: "After a lot of hard work, and support from family, friends, and everyone in the department, it is great to achieve something like this. It will be a very good addition to my CV and would hopefully make an application stand out a bit when looking for future employment opportunities."

Webb has also been nominated for the Ratcliffe prize, awarded to one or more excellent University of Birmingham postgraduate students in the Science area.

Webb has focused on modeling work, while in South Africa, for a long-term Umvoto project for the Overstrand Municipality in south-western South Africa. Umvoto discovered an excellent underground water supply in the region and is now testing the aquifer and monitoring systems for long-term sustainability. The consultancy is also a leader in the development and application of global navigational satellite systems methodology for groundwater resource assessment

"The modeling experience is very valuable, it's great to be able to develop these skills in such a positive work environment as that at Umvoto," said Webb, who's already been up Table Mountain and tried surfing -- the Umvoto head office is conveniently situated near Muizenberg beach.

"The intern program has become internationally renowned since Umvoto first accommodated students about nine years ago," said Umvoto Africa hydrogeologist Helen Seyler. She is also a University of Birmingham M.Sc graduate, and now oversees the intern program as part of her portfolio.

"We get a lot of enquiries via the internet and through personal recommendations of previous interns. Some 40 students, from South African universities and international institutions, have been on the program," said Seyler.

"It's a highly instructive environment as South African and foreign students learn from one another while gaining practical experience on cutting-edge projects. Our goal is to access funding, accommodation and institutional support for the students, as to date the company has supported the initiative single-handedly."

For more information, visit www.umvoto.com

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