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Friday, 25 November 2022

CPUT, DSI and DoD moving to collaborative technologies

FACT-FINDING MISSION: Delegation from Department of Science and Innovation, Department of Defence, SANSA and CSIR welcomed by CPUT delegation led by Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo at Bellville campus. FACT-FINDING MISSION: Delegation from Department of Science and Innovation, Department of Defence, SANSA and CSIR welcomed by CPUT delegation led by Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo at Bellville campus.

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and Department of Defence (DoD) together with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) recently visited CPUT.

The visit was a fact-finding mission to assess the state of the African Space Innovation Centre’s capability and potential to provide satellite and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) short courses to the defence department.

Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, who welcomed the high-level delegation says the well organised event “was very successful” and that CPUT is already a major player in space and the building of nanosatellites. “Therefore, CPUT will have an opportunity to contribute and exhibit her prowess to many stakeholders and a broader platform for the benefit of the Republic of South Africa,” Nhlapo boasts.

Prof Veruscha Fester: Assistant Dean: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Dr Angus Brandt and Chief Engineer, Nyameko Royi provided an overview of activities in African Space Innovation Centre (ASIC) and Royi later facilitated a tour of the space facilities.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho, who outlined CPUT’ sustainability plans for ASIC, was impressed by the interest shown by DoD brass to “our Research, Innovation” as well as training in the Space Science and Technology Initiatives. “The appreciation they showed to CPUT as an engaged university focusing on the needs of society is noted,” Phaho observes.

He continues: “We regard ASIC/F’Sati as a continental flagship programme hence management has committed resources (human resources, equipment) to ensure sustainability as well as overall transformation of the emerging space industry by training students who reflect the country’s demographics.”

In his observation, Humbulani Mudau, Chief Director: Space Science and Technology, Department of Science and Innovation says the University shared their impressive achievements with the visitors. “The University produced seventy-four satellite engineers from all over the continent with 43% as South Africans over a period of twelve years and five satellites from 2009 to 2021, one launched in 2013, the other one in December 2018 and constellation of three launched in January 2022,” Mudau remarks. He adds that in the current cycle the University admitted 58 students with 81% being South Africans.

“We achieved the purpose of the visit, since Dr Phaho also shared the future plans to sustain the ASIC,” he says.

In his remarks, Brigadier General Lance Mathebula voiced his happiness with the CPUT visit and said their mission was to see how CPUT can assist his department in making sure “that we can have our people that are qualified in air and space”. “We prefer to start with short courses first to improve their skills before they start with long courses.”

Reflecting on the event, Phaho says: “It was a high-level delegation who are aware of our footprint in the space sector. They showed an interest in working with CPUT in advancing the sector in the greater national interest.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce