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Senior maritime instructor and manager at Survival Centre, Samantha Montes, is grateful to be appointed Membership Director of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST).

“[I am] extremely honoured, for South Africa, the African continent [and this will] help other countries to realise South Africa have something unique to offer in our maritime sector,” says Montes. Besides being a membership director, her mandate includes, but not limited to, the following:

  • Promote the Association internationally
  • Chairperson of the IASST discussion group
  • Participate in or chairs other sub committees
  • Disseminate and collate election ballots for the position of directors.

“As Dissemination was our portfolio for the Erasmus Plus EURO-ZA capacity building in the field of maritime education, I feel this has given me the tools to achieve this mandate.”

Reflecting on her career journey, the Eastern Cape-born “quirky” maritime instructor says it all started when she was on a school trip to Cape Town while in Standard 7 (Grade 9). She visited the Zonnebloem Campus of the then Cape Technikon.

“I saw one line in the course prospectus that said, ‘Maritime Studies’ and [I]decided this was my career choice.”

After completing her schooling in King Williams Town, Montes relocated to Cape Town to study Maritime Studies at the Cape Technikon, now known as CPUT’s Granger Bay campus.

She joined her first vessel as a navigation cadet in January 2000. Her long sea career has seen her work on a variety of ship types and within many maritime sectors.

In 2015, Montes received a call from her alma mater, CPUT, and was offered a post ashore. Since August 2015 she has been a Senior Maritime Instructor: Survival Centre.An opportunity to go back to sea for a short stint presented itself, in 2019 when Montes was asked to sail as a training officer aboard the SA Agulhas for a historic voyage of venturing to Antarctica with 20 female cadet officers for three months.

Reflecting on her glittering career, Montes said she had to show up and be present. “Opportunities are not going to seek you out. But if you’re in the room, people take notice of you. Perseverance and resilience. Change the narrative by being involved.”

She also attributed her success to her “never give up” attitude. Some of the highlights in her career include visits to all seven continents. “To be exposed to so many different cultures and work with many different nationalities. The challenges often are not unique to maritime, but how you address those challenges sets you apart and leads to success.” Her message to the younger generation is: “Don’t be scared to ask questions. Throughout my career I asked questions. I would rather be seen as foolish for asking simple questions to be sure not to mess up and look incompetent. Although, now I seem to be the one who answers the questions.” She loves her job and the unique challenges it brings her every day. “I am a problem-solver, so this industry provides me ample opportunity to practise this skill.”

When she is not at work, Montes spends time with her two ginger cats that require a lot of attention. “Cats are the masters of relaxing, so I learn from them. I read and enjoy chatting with friends all over the globe.”

Engagements between CPUT academics and their overseas’ counterparts provide the space for open creative discussions, emanating in innovative ideas that can be operationalised lead to the realisation of the CPUT’s Smart Internationalisation strategy in the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences.

This was said by Prof Paul Green, Dean of Business and Management Sciences, while welcoming a delegation from the Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administracao do Porto in Portugal.

“As a faculty and university at large, we nurture collaborations of this nature as they speak to our new decade Vision 2030 which asserts that ‘An internationalised university is characterised by the development of a multi-cultural ecosystem to provide an educational experience that prepares our staff and students at all levels, for a global environment’. The realisation of this vision, and in particular our Smart Internationalisation strategy within our Faculty, and where the real work takes place, is in engagements of this nature which provides the place and space for open, creative discussions, emanating in innovative ideas which can be operationalised,” added Green.

The purpose of this collaboration is focused primarily on teaching, research and postgraduate supervision. Some staff members from the Business and Information Administration (BIA) Department travelled to Porto in 2019 and a Memorandum of Understanding was put in place to formalize the partnership in additional to the ICM (E+) (a funded agreement) which was successfully applied for in 2018.

The exchange programme was initiated in 2015 and a good working relationship with Dr Alexandra Albuquerque, the Head of International Relations ,was established by CPUT’s Dr Dr Shairn Hollis-Turner.

A mobility agreement was originally signed in 2019 which was set to expire in 2021 but extended to July 2022 due to the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent country lockdowns that affected all the travel planned for 2020 and 2021.

In a follow-up engagement on potential collaboration projects, a CPUT delegation recently hosted South African Weather Service (SAWS) delegates at the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre.

The meteorological service delegation was led by the Executive Director, Dr Jonas Mphepya while the CPUT delegation was led by Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships.   This was a follow up from a virtual preliminary engagement, which took place in February 2022, between SAWS, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) and Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships (SIP).

In his brief welcoming speech, Phaho, expressed the Institution’s eagerness to have an “engaging conversation” and SIP Director, Prof Judy Peter provided the background with reference to the February engagement. Dr Nelisiwe Maleka, Manager Research Uptake at SIP, said the purpose of the engagement was to explore potential research collaborations, student development and training with regard to skills enhancement.  All representatives agreed to first look at the current Memorandum of Agreement and identify further potential research collaboration projects. 

Mphepya indicated that the work at SAWS cut across all sectors. Furthermore, SAWS values the input of academics in the South Africa Value Chain which includes observations, numerical weather prediction, generating forecasts, issuing official warnings, tailored services, and business data integration. “There is a need to expand on value chain and strengthen capacity building in meteorology, aviation, and marine,” said Mpheypha. He also highlighted the importance of partnership in “global front and African countries”. In addition, Director: Technology Transfer Office, Dr Revel Iyer, emphasised the importance of translating research solutions to the market and ensuring there will be uptake. 

Potential research collaboration projects identified during the first engagement are:

  • Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to explore the development of genuine Apps for big data
  • Use of ICT for experimental learning
  • Sensor development (low-cost sensors) and satellite development, where we can conduct collaborations and capacity building.
  • a key component of the ocean economy for ocean gathering, relates about reacting to and building risk modeling
  • Student development (select three or four career-studentship Masters and Doctoral programmes where they will work and be supported by SAWS)
  • Create opportunities for an exchange programmes for staff and students

Below are possible areas of collaboration that were explored and consolidated.

SAWS

  • Observations/Met Equipment
  • Infrastructure/Software Development & Applications
  • Weather & climate knowledge value chain
  • Training (RTC)
  • Product/Services/Research
  • Opportunities – Student opportunities

Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment

  • Satellite for weather monitoring and sensor development

Faculty of Applied Sciences

  • Marine Sciences, Ocean Economy
  • Student development (bottom-up approach from undergraduate to postgraduate)

These should be aligned to CPUT V2030

Product Design student Tatenda Marwa’s portrait of Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, earned him the first prize in the Faculty of Informatics and Design’s (FID) first-ever Dean’s Drawing Award.

The winners of the competition were announced at a special handover ceremony, held shortly after Father’s Day, where the portraits were handed over to the Vice-Chancellor as a token of appreciation from the Faculty.

The competition attracted 35 entrants and students were required to create a portrait of the Vice-Chancellor.

Dean of the Faculty, Prof Tembisa Ngqondi said the students were provided with a picture of the Vice-Chancellor, as well as the material needed to complete the portrait.

The event was kept a secret to the Vice-Chancellor, who said he appreciated the gesture.

“Thank you so much for this. I am really humbled,” he said.

The runners-up were Mahle Noyo (second) and Mukelwa Sishi (third).

The three winning students received vouchers.

Tatenda said he was surprised that he had won. “I’m glad that I put in the effort and very happy that I won.”

CPUT’s vision and strategic plans for the next decade were shared with business and industry role-players during a recent event held at the Bellville campus.

One Smart CPUT: Engaged with Its Critical Stakeholders was the theme of the Vice-Chancellor’s Businesses and Industries Engagement.

Stakeholders were welcomed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Prof Rishidaw Balkaran, who said the growth and success of CPUT’s academic project is largely dependent on the growth and success of its partnerships with various industries.

“We have built strong links with all spheres of government, the private sector and societal structures, who not only assist with the intake of Work Integrated Learning and Service-Learning placements, but also contribute immensely to developing new qualifications through involvement in advisory committees for different disciplines.”

Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo delivered the keynote address and said CPUT could no longer be the best-kept secret.

He said that while much was achieved under Vision 2020, the institution had decided not to rest on its laurels.

These achievements included ground-breaking research, including the launch of CPUT’s very first satellite, which was the beginning of a number of ground-breaking research at the institution.

Nhlapo said the institution was going to move up a gear and learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of Vision 2020.

He said the institution’s aim with Vision 2030 is characterised by three philosophies: ubuntu, ubunye (unity), ukungafani (diversity).

“In this strategy we are re-imagining CPUT as a leading university of technology in South Africa and on the continent and indeed the globe and that is why some people are referring to it as the reimagining of CPUT as an MIT of Africa”.

Nhlapo said the idea of establishing One Smart CPUT or Vision 2030 was conceived in 2017 – a Smart university with a focus on one dimension that is oneness and the other dimension that is smartness.

“One Smart University is a concept with two dimensions – it’s both a physical and a virtual environment led by humans coming together to create a more humane, immersive, interactive and automated experience for students, staff, researchers and stakeholders of the institution.”

Nhlapo said it was agreed that the next phase – 2021 to 2030 – should be crafted with a view towards building One Smart CPUT.

“The emphasis on oneness is directed at creating one institutional culture, a sense of belonging, an environment in which everyone strives towards the same goal, taking pride of who we are and how we conduct our business as a university, working as teams, taking collective responsibility for our future, breaking down of silos, working across the departments, units, faculties disciplines and research focus areas, evident by a steep sense of caring about the wellness of others in the workplace and the future of CPUT. We are saying everything we are doing is about the people.”

The programme also included presentations by Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, the six faculties, the Advancement Department and other role-players as well as a Q&A session.

Prof Lalini Reddy, Director: Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning, said the day had been a historic opportunity for the institution to share its new and “extremely vibrant and eloquent vision 2030”.

“We thank you the public sector and private sector for the valued workplaces over the many years and for the SETAs and other funding agencies for the immense funding that you have brought to us. You have provided great satisfaction to our students in terms of learnerships and internships. We thank our advisory committee membership members and others that have contributed to shaping our very innovative curricula and our qualifications.”

Dr Yvonne Maphosa says the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Achievers Award “is not just a bursary, it’s an acknowledgement of outstanding postgraduate students who have shown academic excellence and an embodiment of the CPUT graduate attributes”.

Here Maphosa talks about how grateful she was to receive it.

The Zimbabwean-born academic obtained her Doctorate in Food Science and Technology during the CPUT Autumn Graduation Series 2022.  Maphosa completed her BTech in Food Technology (Cum Laude) in 2013 and was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Medal as the best graduating student in the Faculty of Applied Sciences. She passed her Master’s with distinction and graduated in September 2016.

Reflecting on her career journey, the bubbly author says: “A PhD is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of emotional and financial support. It’s a very difficult journey that requires commitment and strength. I was blessed with the support of my family, friends and fellow postgraduate students. I had amazing supervisors as well. They held my hand and guided me through. I will forever be indebted to them. The CPUT postgraduate centre was also very helpful and always there to assist.”

The last born of six says a PhD is very expensive and the VC’s Prestigious Achievers Award provided for her tuition, residence and everything she needed to successfully complete her PhD.

The VC’s Prestigious Achievers Award played a huge role in the completion of her studies.

“It also came with tremendous non-financial support from the committee and the VC’s office, all of which I’m deeply grateful for.”

A believer and a go-getter, Maphosa says: “It is [a] motivation to keep on excelling. It inspired me to be the best I could be.”

Growing up in Mambale village, deep in the rural areas of Plumtree, Zimbabwe, working hard came naturally for Maphosa. “Working [hard] was instilled in me from a young age. Waking up early to work the fields before running many kilometres to school, then running to the river to fetch water after school taught me that in life you have to work hard. It also taught me balance and time management.”

Maphosa, who has always been an A student, has won numerous prestigious awards throughout her academic journey in the form of funding, medals, trophies, certificates, and scholarships. “They serve as acknowledgements, reassurances and motivations to accomplish more.”

Besides being an academic, she is an award-winning author. and has published two fiction novel series; The y in yOUR Man is Silent (national bestseller) and Grasping at Straws (award winning).

Maphosa is also involved in charity work. She runs a campaign called Buy-A-Pad with Yvonne. She collects and donates sanitary pads to disadvantaged women and girls. She also has a writing competition, Luvone, aimed at discovering young, unpublished writers. From this competition, the book: Luvone: an anthology of short stories was published. Maphosa is involved in several community projects in Zimbabwe, especially those aimed at empowering the girl child and advocating for women rights.Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro was another highlight of her life.

In her message to prospective students, Maphosa says: “Be yourself. You can only realise your true potential if you are truly yourself. Don’t waste your life mimicking other people or chasing the wind at the expense of your dreams. Focus! Set your goals and work towards them.”

Maphosa also acknowledged the support she received from the Vice-Chancellor and the awards committee.  “Thank you for awarding me the Vice-Chancellor's Prestigious Achievers Awards. I am sincerely humbled and elated that you found me a suitable beneficiary for this honourable award. It made a remarkable difference in my PhD journey and my life as a whole. I’m truly grateful.”

Monday, 20 June 2022

Respecting gender identities

National Research Foundation-rated researcher, Dr Nyx Mclean, who specialises in LGBTIAQ+ identities and communities, and their use of digital technology to form publics and counter-publics to resist the status quo was recently hosted by the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences (FBMS).  

Speaking at the event, the Dean of the FBMS, Prof Paul Green said that although South Africa is working towards a society which is free of discrimination, “We also need to be aware of the privilege afforded to certain members of society whilst members of the LGBTIAQ+ community are often marginalised”.  He said: “We need to ensure that we are respectful of an individual's affirmed gender identity, name and pronouns, as knowing and using a person's correct pronouns fosters a culture of inclusion, makes people feel respected and valued, and thus affirms their gender identity.”

Mclean, a Research Associate at Rhodes University, regularly consults on policies which seek to be gender and sexual identity inclusive.  They engaged over 180 staff members and students in an inter-active conversation driven by questions posed from the audience and started the conversation by identifying with their pronouns, being “they” and “them” and invited the audience to share their pronouns.

The former CPUT academic said it’s important to be comfortable with your identity and provided details of organisations which could assist. They emphasised that gender is not “clear cut and is fluid”. Mclean further stated that often cisgender people assume that their gender identity is clear cut, and are not aware that there is gender diversity, and the use of the incorrect pronoun causes hurt, which could be intentional or through a lack of understanding.  Mclean also referred to a social media drive creating awareness as to gender expression and the normalisation of pronouns.

They responded to a myriad of questions as to how to address people with the correct gender pronoun. Mclean said: “It is safe enough to ask the person, and you might find it uncomfortable, as in our society we are generally taught to unconsciously or consciously categorise people based on what we have learnt”. They informed that this is referred to as gender attribution. Mclean also emphasised the importance of the tone being one of kindness when enquiring.

Mclean said that their world view is advocated through an intersectional and inclusive lens, and ethical university.  Senior Lecturer and Chairperson of the Transformation Forum in the Faculty, Mandie Richards said academic institutions, organisations and civil society need to work towards a culture of acceptance and respect, which is inclusive of all people.

“Our world view may often be influenced by a narrative which is uninformed and intolerant of people who have different viewpoints and who do not fit into a box, and so creates a disruption to the status quo with which we are familiar,” said Richards. 

She stated that the institutions need to address policy and academics need to reflect and provide an inclusive curriculum which integrates content which reflects the diversity of students and communities in which they live. 

Human Resource Management Department Lecturer, Taryn Kroukamp emphasised the need for people to understand that discrimination happens “all around us”.  Kroukamp said: “The freedom we fought for, should include our freedom of expression and gender identity terms.”  She stated that respect and inclusivity “is key for us to move forward”.

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