Renowned software engineer Prof Barry Dwolatzky dies

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 16 May 2023
Professor Emeritus Barry Dwolatzky.
Professor Emeritus Barry Dwolatzky.

Renowned South African software engineer Professor Barry Dwolatzky has passed away.

His colleague at the University of Witwatersrand’s Joburg Centre of Software Engineering (JCSE), Adrian Schofield, confirmed the news to ITWeb that Dwolatzky passed away today.

He was 71 years old, and is survived by his wife, Rina King, and children, Jodie and Leslie.

“Professor Emeritus Barry Dwolatzky passed away on the morning of 16 May 2023 after a brief illness,” says Schofield.

“Barry is best-known for his work at Wits University, where he taught so many students in the discipline of software engineering, initiated the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering and led the construction of the Tshimologong Precinct.

The Tshimologong Precinct is focused on coaching digital start-ups on how to build and sustain solutions-driven businesses.

“He was actively engaged in so many of South Africa’s initiatives to improve the skills of young people in the ICT arena and was joint winner of the IITPSA IT Personality of the Year award [in 2013]. He published his autobiography ‘Coded History: My Life of New Beginnings’ in 2022,” Schofield adds.

“It was my privilege to work with Barry for more than 15 years and, along with many colleagues, I will always be grateful for his support and friendship.”

Samantha Hogg-Brandjes, from public relations company GinjaNinja, who helped him to publish his book, says Dwolatzky was an “incredible man”.

“His book chronicles what a significant activist he was too, and how much he helped in the fight against apartheid. He also considered his latest job at Wits his dream job and loved it,” says Hogg-Brandjes.

Dwolatzky was an Emeritus Professor in Wits University’s School of Electrical and Information Engineering.

He was passionate about the South African ICT sector and spent most of the past 25 years educating experts, carrying out research and driving initiatives that aimed to nurture and grow this critical part of the economy.

Dwolatzky launched the JCSE at Wits University in 2005 and since 2014 has been the driving force behind the establishment of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

In recognition of his contribution to the South African IT industry, Dwolatzky was named the joint winner of the “South African IT Personality of the Year” in 2013, together with Mteto Nyati.

He received an award for “Distinguished Service to IT” from the Institute of IT Professionals of South Africa in 2016. In his acceptance speech Prof Dwolatzky said: "One of the things that I try to teach my students is that the hardest thing to manage is a software project because you will be managing something invisible. This whole industry is invisible yet it is the underpinning factor in the current fourth industrial revolution... In a very little way, I have played my part to bring forward the next generation of skills, innovators and entrepreneurs, who hopefully in a few years will also be receiving awards."

Also in 2016, Wits University presented him with the “Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic Citizenship”.

Admire Gwanzura, president of IITPSA, says: “Professor Barry Dwolatzky was a good friend of the institute. He worked closely with the JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey, contributing invaluable time and knowledge to South Africa’s understanding of ICT skills demand and shortfalls. The institute is deeply saddened at his passing.

“His passion for IT skills development and mentoring young professionals was unparalleled. Indeed, he noted in launching his memoir ‘Coded History’ last year that young South Africans were his inspiration.

“We are grateful for the opportunities we – and our members – have had to learn and know from Prof Barry. His legacy will live on in generations of ICT practitioners who benefitted from his guidance.”

More about Professor Barry Dwolatzky:
What of the 4IR?

Tshimologong Precinct open for business