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The South African Medical Research Council/ CPUT/Cardiometabolic Health Research Unit will be hosting its 1st Annual International Cardiometabolic Health and Diabetes Africa Congress next month.

The theme of the congress, which will be held virtually from 22 to 25 February, is Personalised Medicine.

The conference will provide a forum to discuss novel and emerging methodologies for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and complications associated with these diseases, such as kidney and liver disease.

It will also include conversations regarding the discovery of novel biomarkers and potential treatment options involving personalised or alternative medicine. Several workshops are planned which will bring together policy makers, academics and emerging researchers to share their views on how we can effectively stop the upward trend leading to the rising prevalence of these conditions.

The congress will feature 39 international speakers and 12 South African speakers.

The unit’s Saarah Davids said staff members, researchers, students and postdoctoral fellows could participate by submitting either an abstract or participating in the youth forum as follows:


  • When submitting an abstract it could either be selected for poster presentation or oral presentation. The programme is designed so that staff, researchers, students, and postdoctoral fellows would present with presenters in themed slots so that they can gain experience and learn from experienced researchers in the same field.
  • The criteria, template and other information can be found at the following link:
  • Closing date 31 January 2022

Youth forum:

  • Those who are staff, researchers, postgraduate students, or postdoctoral fellows under the age of 40, who would want to present ideas for future projects. This will allow those presenting to get feedback from other young researchers and possibly aid in future collaboration
  • The criteria, template and other information can be found at:
  • Closing date 31 January 2022

Prof Thandi Matsha, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, is the chair of the congress organising committee.

A Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering, Mike Oluwaseun Ojumu, has built an electric powered robotic subsea dredging crawler from scratch.

As a child, the Nigerian born innovator always dreamt of achieving two future prospects – becoming a pilot and obtaining an engineering degree. “Little did I know that there was more to learn and achieve before that mission could be possible. Due to financial instabilities, I had to pursue more of ocean technologies, which increased my knowledge in the innovation society. That is when ocean technology and innovation became my main focus,” Ojumu reminisces.

He says the electric powered robotic subsea dredging crawler utilises two drive systems. The left and right arm systems are being controlled by a direct current (DC) motor, which allows it to move forward/backwards, clockwise, and counterclockwise. It also can move at 360 degrees. The crawler is waterproofed and can move around on the ocean floor. It has two pumps installed on it; one of the pumps will draw natural resources through a venture dredging nozzle, which passes through the pump, and finally passing through a pipe called a riser, to a ship. The second pump is used in breaking the sea floor, which makes it easy for the dredging. The crawler is controlled using a tethered wire called the umbilical cord, which is used for the communication and electronic control systems.

Ojumu adds that this prototype and technological innovation is powered with a 12 volts 3000mAh battery, which does not possess any sort of hydraulic pollution to the ocean, which protects both aquatic animals and humans. “One of the most critical achievements of this design was writing an algorithm, which uses human interface as its control knob,” he remarks.

His research title is: Electric Powered Robotic Subsea Dredging Crawler and its focus is to reduce the emission of ocean pollution. Ojumu says hydraulic powered subsea dredging crawlers have been successfully used for ocean exploitation for many years, “but it possesses some disturbing limitations, such as hydraulic ocean pollution”.  “The aim is to also create an environment where Nautical Science, Marine Engineering and other Engineering and Built Sciences’ students will be able to optimise systems, enhance their knowledge and skills that are related and relevant to ocean robotics, which will help commercial use such as oil and gas companies, or for military use.

“Furthermore, this will generate more job opportunities as there are no companies at the moment in South Africa, who deal with ocean robotics and innovation, so if this project prospers, the possibility of opening companies will be extremely huge. Local communities will have access to a vicinity that offers them knowledge, skills, and job opportunities in a very interesting field of technology.”

Ojumu has one particular memory from his childhood where he was working alongside his dad and “he mentioned to me that if my dreams do not scare me, then they are not big enough”. “Working with my dad taught me the value of hard work and sticking to a project until it is done right.”

Describing the support, he received from the CPUT AMTL staff, Ojumu says: “They are the best team I have worked with thus far in my life. They always push me to be the best I can become, and they have taught me to always have an impact wherever I go. I really appreciate and respect their professionalism and their efforts towards this research…It has been a great privilege and honour working with them.”

The 27-year-old innovator says: “Having a dream this big, at such a young age, with little to no resources can be quite challenging and intimidating. In this given moment, I would really like to thank and appreciate my supervisor, Prof Oscar Philander for believing in me and my dream, as well as for the immense support and guidance I have received from him.”

Ojumu’s plan is to eventually have an ocean robotics company, “where I will start up with CPUT’s students and grow together into something much bigger, while offering our services to the world”.

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

ASIC team reaches milestone

CPUT’s African Space Innovation Centre (ASIC) team, who recently  launched the continent’s first satellite constellation, the Marine Domain Awareness Satellites (MDASat) aboard US aerospace company SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, has achieved the first milestone with the three satellites, which is to communicate with them and receive the beacon from each satellite.

Acting Chief Engineer on the project, Nyameko Royi says: “At 22:55 hours after the launch we managed to receive the beacon from all three satellites and verified their status with correct battery voltage, the status of the On-Board Computer Image and deployment of the UHF antennae. We managed to also send telecomands to the satellites and successfully received the telemetry.”

Royi adds that the team has not experienced any serious challenge as yet, “although we did have  Satellite A booting into fail safe mode, but that was sorted immediately by requesting the OBC to reset and within the following pass the issue was resolved”.

He says the team is currently in the process of commissioning the  Altitude Determination Control System which provides a total control of the satellites orbit such that they are nadir pointing, that is going to take about two weeks.  “The passes will be 12 if we include ZACube-2 with four satellites and these are estimated useable passes. Potentially we have 24 passes but some of them won’t be useable with very low elevation.”  Reflecting on the progress made since the launch, Royi says: “We are all excited about the project, we are hopeful that we are not to experience any major concerns from the satellites.”

Royi  also states that the current mission is sanctioned by the Department of Science and Innovation to observe the Maritime Domain Awareness to feed into Operation Phakisa by submitting the captured data to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Oceans and Coasts Information System  Integrated Vessel Tracking project.

The team has not commissioned the data link yet. “With regard to ZACube-2, we have six passes a day we have three in the morning and we have another three in the evening,” Royi elaborates.

In addition, Royi says: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the project, current CPUT employees and former colleagues. I would like to extend this appreciation to other companies that support our mission being directly or indirectly involved with the mission. As a team we would like to thank the CPUT management for their support of the programme from the VC, DVC, Dean and HOD down to trainee lab technicians that provided invaluable time and support for all our programmes and missions.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

“The road to success is not easy, you have to keep on digging all the time, you will never know when you are going to hit the gold.”

These are the words from the recent graduate in Master’s in Agriculture, Mvuselelo Dalicuba who has been appointed as a winemaker at the famous Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

Reflecting on his appointment, the 29-year-old winemaker from Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape says: “It is an overwhelming position, and a lot is expected of me. But my boss, Corius Visser, always says: ‘Vusi keep calm all the time and take it one step at a time’.”  Before his appointment, Dalicuba worked as an Assistant Winemaker at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Elsenburg College. His current mandate is to try to be on top of things (focus) at work and setting up goals (short- and long-term goals). “[I am] planning to achieve this by surrounding myself with people who are in my field of work and building contacts,” says Dalicuba, who’s career path was shaped by  his “very supportive” family who are small scale farmers in the Eastern Cape.

“[My family] has shaped my career to study Agriculture. They have been my support system, financially, physically, and emotionally.”

His Agriculture career took off in 2013 when he enrolled for the Diploma in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) at CPUT which he completed in 2015. The following year, Dalicuba enrolled for his BTech and he published a review book chapter with his supervisors (Fanadzo Morris and Ernest Dube on the topic: Application of Conservation Agriculture Principles for the Management of Field Crops Pests’ on the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 28 book.

Following the completion of his BTech degree in 2017, Dalicuba enrolled for the Master’s degree in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) Monitoring levels of ascorbic acid metabolites in Sauvignon blanc (Vitis vinifera L.) during berry development and in the wine.

During his post graduate studies the resilient, ambitious and determined  Dalicuba had an opportunity to work as an Assistant Winemaker at the Department of Agriculture, Elsenburg Wine Cellar, under the mentorship of Lorraine Geldenhuys (Lecturer and Winemaker at the Elsenburg College), where he practically learned about the winemaking process. During that period Dalicuba had opportunities to work at other wineries for harvest such as Anthonij Rupert Wine Estate in 2018, under the mentorship of Yvonne Lester. Also at Kanonkop Wine Estate in 2020, under the mentorship of Abrie Beeslaar who has been “the international winemaker of the world for three times”.

“Because of good reference and good work ethics it had helped me to get the position as a Winemaker at Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate under the General Farm Manager and Cellar Master Corrius Visser,” Dalicuba continues.

“One thing that keeps me going is that, if you have to believe in yourself and it’s all in your mind, if you tell your mind that you won’t make it, then the body will react to your thoughts. Beyers Truter of Beyerskloof Wine Estate has been my inspiration and mentor.”

The highlight in his career was when he first made his own wine in 2017 at Elsenburg College with Mourvedre grapes and his main challenge was lack of understanding the Afrikaans language, and “the industry is more Afrikaans speaking, but hey at least I can understand it now and I can construct  some few sentences”.

Dalicuba’s overall plan is to keep on producing good quality and delicate wines that people will enjoy, and he says Anton Pieter Nel, his supervisor, was the driving force towards him completing his Master’s degree from the onset.  Due to his passion for wine making, on his spare time, Dalicuba frequently attends wine tasting events at different wineries to learn more about their styles of winemaking and he also enjoys the beach.

His message to the younger generation coming from a similar background as him, Dalicuba says: “Be yourself at all times and never forget who you are and where you come from, and where you are going.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

Friday, 14 January 2022

Watch this Space

CPUT Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo congratulated engineers from the university’s African Space Innovation Centre (ASIC) in person when the continent’s first satellite constellation was successfully launched.

The Marine Domain Awareness Satellites (MDASat) have already started successfully transmitting data after they were launched aboard US aerospace company SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission carried a total of 105 spacecraft, including CubeSats, microsats, PocketQubes and orbital transfer vehicles.

On Thursday the VC, along with members of his management team, joined the ASIC team at the laboratories where the nanosatellites were built in Bellville, and watched the launch live with them. The group excitedly tracked the lift-off then watched the MDASat’s being deployed about 45 minutes later.

Speaking to members of the media afterwards Prof Nhlapo said it was mission accomplished- for now.

“This was the biggest satellite project to date there are many other projects in the pipeline so it is a big niche area. So I say watch this ‘space’,” he said.

“We are a university of technology and we must dominate in the applied science space, our research must benefit the people of SA. That is why we want to encourage more undergraduate and post-graduate study in this growing field so that the country can keep developing its capacity.”

Acting Chief Engineer on the project Nyameko Royi says each satellite will initially make an average of four passes per day, but that will steadily increase.

“As satellites eventually drift further apart we’ll have breaks between overpasses and as they eventually spread further apart we will have an average of 12 passes per day. We are also still tracking previously launched nanosatellite ZACUBE-2, which makes it 16 tracking operations per day. We expect an average of 1883k bytes of data to be generated per pass per satellites,” he says.

This data will be used to secure South Africa’s ocean resources amongst other things.

SpaceX is targeting Thursday, January 13 for a Falcon 9 launch of Transporter-3 to orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Transporter-3 will be carrying the CPUT MDASat - 1 constellation. The 29-minute launch window opens at 10:25 a.m. EST, or 15:25 UTC, and a backup opportunity is available on Friday, January 14 with the same window.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, and five Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Transporter-3 is SpaceX’s third dedicated rideshare mission, and onboard this launch are 105 spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, PocketQubes, and orbital transfer vehicles). A live webcast of this mission will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff.

Mission Plan


All times are approximate. The list below only reflects the MDASat-1 deployments, other customer deployments have been omitted for clarity. As stated above, a total of 105 spacecraft will be deployed during this mission.

00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading underway
00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff

Launch, Landing, and Deployment

All times are approximate

00:01:12 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:15 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:19 1st and 2nd stage separate
00:02:26 2nd stage engine starts
00:02:32 Boostback burn begins
00:03:47 Fairing deployment
00:06:36 1st stage entry burn begins
00:08:26 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:27 1st stage landing
00:55:22 2nd stage engine restarts
00:55:24 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
01:11:01 MDASat-1a deploys
01:12:44 MDASat-1b deploys
01:12:58 MDASat-1c deploys

On Thursday 13 January the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is set to launch its third satellite mission into space from the Cape Canaveral launch site in the USA.

The MDASat (Marine Domain Awareness) constellation has two main priorities namely ocean economy and healthcare and has been mandated by the Department of Science and Innovation to enhance South Africa’s ocean’s sovereignty. Operation Phakisa, a fast track implementation of the National Development Plan, focuses on effective marine domain awareness. The Software Defined Radio payload being used in the mission aims to enhance the security and protection of South African marine resources.

MDASat is CPUT’s third satellite mission and follows on from ZACUBE-1 (TshepisoSat) and ZACUBE-2’s successful development, launch and operation. In the interim, a suite of commercial CubeSat parts have also been developed by CPUT engineers and these will also be in use on the satellites.  

CPUT’s Acting Chief Engineer on the project Nyameko Royi says increased visibility in space by more nations bodes well for all.

“This mission would mark the first constellation of satellites developed and designed in Africa. The more we get people involved in space the better, the more data we extract from space- the better for the world. This is a significant milestone for CPUT and South Africa,” he says.

Dean of the Engineering and Built Environment Faculty at CPUT Prof Marshall Sheldon says the MDASat launch is the latest development in a long timeline of space engineering events at the university, which first began in 2008.

“Each successful development and launch is a paradigm shift away from the traditional space industry norms and we are proud to be at the center of that. Attracting more undergraduate and postgraduate learners to careers in space science will ensure we can continue celebrating future successes,” she says.   


MDASat Specs

The first three satellites of the MDA constellation will carry an upgraded AIS receiver payload from ZACube-2 and will be capable of the following;

  •        Over the air upgrades which means software can be developed and uploaded to the orbiting satellite when ready.
  •        Raw date: The payload captures raw data and enhances the opportunity for diagnostic testing on signal interference and decoding messages.
  •        Long Range AIS: These are two specific channels to be used as uplinks for receiving AIS messages by satellite.
  •        More effective messaging scheme: The first generation payload was limited in how it could save data and have it extracted by the ground station. The enhanced data interface will optimize the use of the data transmitter’s bandwidth.

These enhancements pave the way for the future MDASat-2’s development and launch and minimizes the risk of damage to the current payload.  

SpaceX, the company founded by SA born entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be launching the constellation on 13 January 2022 at 17:25pm (Florida time 10:25am).

Members of the media and public can watch the launch live using this link the webcast starts about 10 to 15 minutes before lift-off and ends shortly after payload deployment.


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