Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Prof Marshall Sheldon is thrilled with the performance of the CPUT World Skills teams that attended WorldSkills South Africa National Competition held in Durban.

The five CPUT teams clinched a total of six medals, three gold and as many silver medals. CPUT also received tools for CNC milling to the value of R70 000 as part of upskilling the competitors and experts from the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The tools are now kept at CPUT CNC workshop for training of community. After the national competition, numerous sponsors and SETAs showed interest to work and invest at CPUT as a hub and a driver of higher order skills as there are not many universities part at this stage. This puts CPUT in a better opportunity to train the trainers for the WorldSkills Competition (WSC). CPUT also stands a chance to explore possibilities of incorporating Work Integrated Learning (WIL) into the WSC program. The competition stirred a good atmosphere of skills excellence among students and staff who attended it. Only the Mechanical and Mechatronics department participated in this year’s WSC, but the invitation is expected to be extended to other departments such as Information Technology, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Food Technology.

Sheldon said the CPUT teams’ performance made her enormously proud of the student and staff’s achievements.

The competition was planned to be held in China but due the COVID situation in that country it was changed to Europe, and various countries in Europe will host the competition for various skills.

The mobile robotic team won a gold medal and they will be going to France in October 2022. The female student who participated in the CNC skill team won a gold medal and she will be going to Germany in October 2022.

“The Faculty is very proud of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics staff and students for putting CPUT on the map in terms of the 4IR World Skills and wish them all of the best with the competition abroad.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Prof Rishidaw Balkaran also congratulated the team. “Well done! To the colleagues and students at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics, thank you for the excellent work and waving the CPUT flag high,” Balkaran enthused.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho said: “This is great news and congratulations to the faculty and the involved colleagues.”

The Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development’s (CHED) STEM Club magnificently hosted the National Science Week (NSW) event recently.

The purpose of the hybrid event with about 35 attendees, 15 online was to celebrate the Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) sector across the University community as this was for the National Science Week. The theme was: Celebrating the role of basic sciences in the modern world. The aim was also to create more awareness in terms of the STEM sector and services offered to students and “how best we could possibly assist students in achieving their goals”.

STEM Coordinator, Dr Frikkie George, said there was a great need to host such events to collaborate, network and encourage students. “The latter is required considering the subject matter of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths”. There was a great turn out of students, an excitement that one cannot express as well as a hunger for assistance in those particular subjects.

“The event was successful; indeed, it is a pity that only a limited number of students could attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. The students were very excited, and the presentations of the guest speakers, Fundani CHED Director, Dr Xena Cupido and Department of Chemistry Lecturer, Dr Elise De Vries, addressed contemporary issues in the STEM field. The organisation and the activities developed smoothly,” added George.

The STEM Club was established in April 2022 and this was its second event. George confirmed that besides celebrating the National Science Week “we aimed to expose the STEM Club to the CPUT community”.  He said the feedback after the event was very positive and gives them the opportunity to spread their footprint at the other CPUT campuses.

For this event, the CPUT STEM Club conducted science-based activities, and focused on the role and value of Science, Technology and Mathematics in celebration of this year’s National Science Week. Students had the opportunity to display various science experiments, engagement from the floor in terms of discussions as well as the panel discussion, discussions from both lecturers as well as students reflecting the importance of the STEM sector at the University.

“The eye-catching and exciting science demonstrations enthralled the imagination of everyone who attended,” George observed.

CPUT researchers are using phytosome nanotechnology – an emerging field – to enhance the bioavailability of Rooibos extracts in skin formulations.

Previous studies that pointed to Rooibos’ protective effect against inflammation in skin cells, is what prompted Dr Mariska Lilly, Senior Researcher of Proteomics & Molecular Biology at the Applied Microbial and Health Biotechnology Institute (AMHBI) of CPUT to probe further.

Lilly is working with:

  • Dr Stefan Abel (Adjunct Scholar) at AMHBI (phytosome development)
  • Dr Celeste Abrahams (Previous Postdoctoral fellow at AMHBI) (phytosome development)
  • Dr Hapiloe Maranyane and Dr Tandeka Magcwebeba (Previous Postdoctoral fellows at AMHBI) contributed to determine the amount of herbal tea to use for preventing or treating inflammation, as well as in the development of biomarkers for inflammation in skin cells.

“We knew that once the skin was exposed to the sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays, Rooibos extracts could remove precancerous damaged cells and block the onset of inflammation. It does so by hindering the multiplication of inflamed cells and ridding the body of them.

“Our studies went a step further. Instead of just studying one biomarker, we looked at several, and found the same to be true. Rooibos indeed has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, which protects the skin from the damaging effects of the sun, changing environmental conditions and pollution. However, the concentration of the Rooibos extract must be just right.”

She says it’s the combination of polyphenols (antioxidants) – natural compounds found in Rooibos – which gives it it’s restorative ability.

“Because of their potential health benefits to humans, phytochemicals (bioactive polyphenolic compounds) in plants and herbs have been studied extensively in recent years. These compounds not only protect the plant throughout its lifecycle, but are responsible for its colour, aroma and flavour. Given their positive biological effect, higher safety margins and lower cost than synthetic agents, it has led to a significant increase in the demand for herbal products globally.”

Rooibos’ potent bioactivity against various diseases – by scavenging free radicals (harmful compounds or elements) in the body and its ability to be utilised in the production of cosmetics and dietary supplements – has caught the attention of the scientific world and the public at large. Researchers are studying its ability to heal wounds, relieve burns and other skin conditions, including eczema, acne, urticaria, pruritus, psoriasis and other bacterial and fungal skin diseases, among a host of other ailments.

Lilly explains that up until now the bioavailability (proportion of active ingredient that is absorbed by cells and that can have an effect when introduced into the body) of many plant extracts, including Rooibos, have been limited.

“But, by loading Rooibos’ polyphenolic compounds (extracts) in a novel nano-delivery system will facilitate their penetration across the skin barriers, thereby enhancing their topical bioavailability.

“Nanocarriers will not only help to protect the bioactive compounds in Rooibos from oxidation and degradation, but can improve the solubility, absorption, long-term benefits, as well as their stability (shelf life).

She explained that a phytosome is a complex made between herbal extracts and dietary phospholipid and shows improved bioavailability and absorption.

“We will use an enriched concentration of Rooibos total polyphenols packed inside a vesicle that resembles a cell.’

Before making the Rooibos phytosome available to the market, more research will be conducted to determine the right concentration of Rooibos and rate of bioavailability. This will then be followed by clinical trials in humans where phytosome prototypes will be tested in small skin biopsies.

She said the development of a scientifically data-based skin protection product is envisaged, strengthening the value and marketability of rooibos.

“This will be a tested product, with known polyphenol concentrations, and scientific data supporting its claims. What we found is that Rooibos protects against inflammation in skin cells, and chronic inflammation is one of the hallmarks of skin cancer development. The idea is to develop a pre- and after-sun lotion containing Rooibos-phytosomes that will aid in the prevention of UVB skin inflammation.”

For more information on Rooibos research, visit

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning, with the support of the Faculty of Informatics and Design, hopes to make a long-lasting impact on a Langa-based orphan village.

In pursuance of the vision of the institution and faculty, the Dean of the Faculty of Informatics and Design, Prof Tembisa Ngqondi, tasked the department with conceptualising and implementing a humanitarian initiative in the manner of ‘67-minutes for Mandela’.

The resultant initiative is centred on improving the quality of life of 20 children who are housed at the Siyaphambili Orphan Village.

With the backing of the faculty, the department decided to adopt the home to ensure that that the relationship has a long-term impact, particularly in terms of skills development.

Five staff members, an alumnus and 25 urban and regional planning students recently visited the Siyaphambili Orphan Village to deliver various goods, including toiletries, sanitary items, food, clothing, soccer balls and skipping ropes.

They also lent a hand in the preparation of the meals for the children and cleaning the house and the yard.

Lecturer,Kwena Letsoalo said: “This outreach effort serves as a big step towards achieving the objective of forming partnerships between CPUT and communities, and in the process preparing the students for their roles as change agents who enhance the well-being of community members.”

During the handover of the goods, Prof Masilonyane Mokhele, Head of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, said: “As planners, we always strive to improve the conditions of communities, hence we decided to visit the Siyaphambili Orphanage home to share the little that we have. We believe this should not be a one-off event, so today is just the start – we will definitely come back.”

Siphokazi Xameni, the manager and caregiver at the orphanage responded: “Thank you, CPUT. It’s the little things that make a huge difference. I normally tell people that it is not always about material things but just giving your time. You have blown me away because we really need these, and when I spoke to Mzi (Mzingisi Muluse, (Department of Urban and Regional Planning’s Technician), he acted as if it’s something small.”

Dominic Stanford (CPUT Urban and Regional Planning alumnus) was ecstatic and noted: “The outreach initiative was a great success! I believe it provided the students with a sense of purpose. Initiatives like these tie back to the essence of our profession - collaborating and improving the lives of community members. Like the caregiver at the Siyaphambili Orphan Village said, it is not just about giving out material things, but rather about sharing and giving space to the children.”

Speaking on behalf of the third-year students, Siyamthanda Malawana said “We were very touched by this experience as we got to know more about the reasons children are placed in the orphanage. As much as we would have loved to spend more time with the children, we are extremely happy and appreciative of the moments we shared with them.”

Second-year student, Khanyisile Jubeju, said: “Providing a clean, safe and secure place for children is very important and I was honoured to be a part of the visit. I helped clean up the place, and seeing the gratitude was eye opening. I had an amazing experience. In urban and regional planning, there is an emphasis on working with people and I feel that this was a great way to connect with the community.”

First-year student, Zoleka Malamba was moved by visit.

“I had a medley of emotions flowing through my body. I felt thankful for being part of this initiative. I would like to express my gratitude to the department for such an eye-opening opportunity. From the entire first-year group, our hearts are singing gratitude, Kwande!”

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Clean Green Fashion

CPUT students explored their creative side while promoting recycling and an environmental awareness during the recent Green Campus Initiative Fashion Show.

Students were involved in all aspects of the fashion show including the design, modeling, styling and music and lighting. The brief was for students to create a fashion look made entirely out of recycled materials and the results were breathtaking.

Co-ordinator of the event Melani-Ann Hara says she is immensely proud of the 14 designers and 28 models who participated in the show, most of whom are students in faculties not connected to fashion design.

“It’s been quite a while since we have been able to socialize in this way and this was an ideal opportunity for students to connect and learn about how they can reduce, re-use and recycle.

Nursing student Ferial Galant, 18, says she tried to achieve a classy streetwear look that incorporated recycled material but was still edgy and fashionable.

“I used household items that could be recycled like bottles and plastic bags and it took me four days to complete my look,” she says.

Ferial also encouraged a good friend Wesley Hendricks to model her look and says she was grateful to him for helping her refine and present the look successfully.

Environmental Management student Wakuenda Alex, 25, says he saw the callout for designers and was immediately interested because of the green fashion element.

“I had so much fun exploring fashion in this way, me and my friends spent days on campus coming up with ideas and the type of materials that could be used,” he says.

“It was really fun to participate in-person and interact with people.”

Wesley Hendricks was crowned Mr Green Campus Initiative with first place awarded to Okuhle Lingani.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Fun Run kicks off Women’s Month

Fairies, unicorns and even a minion were among the participants of this year’s CPUT Women’s Day Fun Run.

The rain couldn’t deter scores of CPUT women and a few men from participating in the event, which started at the stadium on the Bellville campus.

The participants joined in a warm-up session before Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, officially started the race.

Dr Nicole Brooks, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, was the winning runner while Francis Koordom from Cleaning Services was the first walker to cross the finish line.

The winner in the Craziest Outfit category was Deidre de Jongh from the Department Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering who made quite an impression with her Christmas-themed outfit.

The winners and all participants who dressed up in costumes for the event received prizes.

The event was made possible through the co-operation of the following departments: Marketing and Communication, Human Capital, Infrastructure Development and Facilities Management, The Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Health and Safety, Somatology and the Cape Town Hotel School.

The designs of two talented Visual Communication Design students have been selected for the Halo Dish Covers’ 2023 collection.

Lecturer Wayne Coughlan said Malikah Rashaad and Thaakira Isaacs’s impressive designs were selected by Halo from the second and third-year submissions made by the programme.

“We always seek ways to link students with industry and this was a perfect opportunity, not only for the students, but also to promote the CPUT brand. Overall, we were very impressed with what all the students produced, especially as it was during the lockdown periods.”

Malikah, who hails from Mitchells Plain, said that at first, she found the project daunting as she didn’t believe that drawing is her strongest attribute, but she decided to give it her best shot.

“We had daily feedback sessions and that helped a lot. I’m glad I pushed through and was very happy when I heard that my designs had been selected,” she said.

“The experience had been extremely valuable as it provided her with the opportunity to work with a client and to learn and improve from the feedback provided.“

Tess Wypkema Birch, Brand Manager for Halo Dish Covers said the CPUT students were enthusiastic and willing to tackle this project.

“We chose Malikah and Thaakira because we see great potential in the designs that they submitted. I asked the students a couple of questions about why they wanted to be part of this project and their excitement and enthusiasm is evident in their answers. These students are talented and willing to put in the work to create something really beautiful. I am working with them to have their designs ready for print.”

She said Halo had previously also worked with CPUT students and all had been a pleasure to work with.

“We would love to be able to continue our relationship with CPUT to create many new ranges going forward. The students are building eight designs which will be used as part of the 2023 Halo collection. “

“We will take a portrait of each artist which will be posted on our website along with a blog about each artist connecting them with their designs.”

Each of Halo’s prints is designed by a young South African artist, “bringing their creative visions to life through support, exposure and remuneration”.

The CPUT academics who worked on the project are: Wayne Coughlan, Tertius Heyns, Janet van Graan, Penny George and Banzi Damba.

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