In line with the Just Energy Transition agenda, to maintain economic growth, sustainability and job creation in the surrounding areas that have been dependent to the coal fired power stations, Eskom chief executive officer, Andre de Ruyter visited the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) on the Bellville campus recently.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo welcomed De Ruyter and Eskom’s General Manager, Mandy Rambharos. Earlier this year, SARETEC, Director, Mokgadi Modise and Acting SARETEC Operations Manager, Hendrick Volschenk had conducted a site visit at the Komati Power Station on 22 April 2022 from which the Eskom team had to also conduct a similar site inspection of the SARETEC on 13 May 2022.

De Ruyter said the visit followed several engagements between Eskom, the SARETEC and the South African Wind Association (SAWEA) on renewable energy options in line with the Just Energy Transition agenda.  De Ruyter said: “Among others is to maintain economic growth, sustainability and job creation in the surrounding areas that have been dependent to the coal fired power stations following the decommissioning phase. Among others, training in the form of reskilling and upskilling of the Eskom workforce, surrounding communities has remained part of the primary objective is to find balance between the decommissioning and just transition phases.”

He shared Eskom’s plan to repurpose the coal fired powered stations for good use while emphasising that the collective has a social responsibility to maintain an enabling environment for economic growth in those areas where the power plants are located to prevent any possibility of creating ghost towns following the decommissioning phase.  De Ruyter said because of SARETEC’s accreditation, institutional capacity it has built over the years and existing skills is better placed to support Eskom and therefore there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Nhlapo affirmed that CPUT need to increase/ramp-up the marketing of SARETEC as “It is still the best-kept secret to some key and critical stakeholders”. “However, the visit was extremely successful,” Nhlapo said. Reflecting on the potential partnership, the Vice-Chancellor said: “It means that CPUT is going to formally sign a MoA [Memorandum of Agreement] with Eskom. The agreement between the tripartite, SARETEC, South African Wind Energy Association and Eskom on the establishment of Eskom Training Centre as part of the Just Energy Transition which will benefit both the faculty and the institution.”

He said the initiative is mutually beneficial to all the parties. “At a very high-level it is also an opportunity for CPUT as per the Higher Education Act to respond to the needs of the Republic and of the communities we served by contributing to [address] the energy challenges faced by the country.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho expressed the positive effect that could also be drawn from other areas that the University had partnered with other institutions of higher learning in the field of research in addition to the renewable energy.

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Prof Marshall Sheldon said the purpose of the visit was to provide the Eskom delegation an opportunity to tour the National Renewable Energy facility. Sheldon shared with Eskom representatives that additional structures are in place such as the SARETEC Management Committee and the Governance Board that provide support and ensure that SARETEC deliver on its commitments.

Sheldon stated that the Faculty’s Vision 2030 is to be a leading faculty in Engineering and the Built Environment that advances knowledge through Science, Technology, and Innovation for the benefit of society. “The mission is to be a self-sustaining faculty that is responsive and relevant; environmentally conscious; renowned for its innovation in teaching and learning, research, and technological development; and produces graduates that contribute to society,” Sheldon continued.

“This potential partnership between SARETEC and Eskom will contribute to the Faculty’s vision and mission in that that outcome will positively impact on the society, communities, the economy and the environment.”

The Applied Microbial and Health Biotechnology Institute’s (AMHBI) Dr Thandekile Mthethwa has been awarded a Y2 -rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

NRF ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. A Y-rating is awarded to promising young researchers.

“I am very pleased and grateful for the recognition; it is very humbling when you realise that your efforts are seen. It is merely the beginning. This recognition encourages me to continue to do my best work. I continually strive to improve my research and to provide mentorship to the next generation of young researchers.”

Mthethwa joined AMHBI as a researcher in 2015 and her research interests are in the fields of nanomaterials and photochemistry.

“My work is focused on the design of high-quality novel nanostructures, their interaction with light and their assembly into functional nanomaterials for applications such as treatment of wastewater, as well as the development of fundamental understanding of structure-property relationships.”

The researcher who grew up in Empangeni and Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Zululand and her PhD at Rhodes university.

“My greatest research achievement has been my PhD. This is one of the most significant events of my professional career. It has given me the necessary tools to be able to make a significant contribution in scientific community through my research.”

She said she appreciated the platform that CPUT has provided to her to establish her research niche within AMHBI “and I am grateful to everyone who continue to help me in my professional growth”.

AMHBI Director, Prof Jeanine Marnewick congratulated Mthethwa.

"Since joining the CPUT and AMHBI, Dr Mthethwa has produced a coherent body of work seeking to establish herself as a young researcher in the field. Her recent NRF Y2 rating is in recognition of her hard work. I am extremely proud of Thandekile, she is part of our future leaders of science and will continue to support her in her scientific endeavours at AMHBI.”

The Strategic Initiatives and Partnership division recently launched the Sisonke Supervision Mentoring programme, which offers opportunities for capacity building to grow CPUT’s cohort of skilled PhD-qualified staff to supervise and mentor novice researchers.

This is due to the steady increase in Master’s and Doctoral post-graduates seen across Africa, and at CPUT, many more well-prepared supervisors are needed. Building good higher education supervision mentoring programmes that are sustainable are needed to expand the number of doctoral post-graduate to work not only in the higher education and research sector, but in the industrial sector too.  

In his presentation Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho, outlined the CPUT Postgraduate Roadmap to 2030.   “It’s been a long time coming but the efforts have been fruitful, and we have an opportunity here to do great things for this institution.”

His talk outlined included:

  • Postgraduate education and CPUT Vision 2030.
  • CPUT Postgraduate enrolment trends: 2011 to present.
  • CPUT research output trends: 2011 to 2021.
  • Postgraduate enrolment in the Covid-19 world. Current state of play.
  • Strategic levers to increase postgraduate students: 2021 to 2030
  • How do we measure progress and Watch outs?

Phaho said the drive to enhance postgraduate success at CPUT will be primarily informed by the following Vison 2030 Focus areas.

  • Smart teaching and learning and learning environments.
  • Smart Research Technology Innovation and Partnerships (RTIP) that is relevant and have impact.
  • Smart internationalisation.
  • Smart engagement and strong links with quintuple helix partners
  • And smart student engagement and learning experience.

Director of the Research Directorate Office, Prof Dina Burger said: “What is clear to me is that it’s important to have a system in place but  it has to do with the soft issues, it has to do with the supervisors and the postgraduate students, predominantly, that journey, that relationship  that is what lies at heart , I think of successful postgraduate education.”

Burger said there was a need to improve the number of postgraduates and number of academic staff in terms of doctoral degrees.

The guest speaker, Prof Johann Mouton from Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University, said it’s widely recognised that South Africa needed more highly-skilled academics and scientists – both for their reproductive capacity (to train and mentor the next generation of scientists) but also their knowledge productive and innovative capacity.

“What we have witnessed over the past 20 years is a steady increase in demands placed on our universities to grow and transform this capacity. And most of the ‘indicators’ show that the sector has responded admirably – both as far as quantitative outputs (graduates and publications), are concerned, as well as qualitatively (through creative and novel initiatives such as the Sisonke programme).”

In his closing remarks, Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, said he hoped that the Sisonke programme would assist CPUT to navigate the challenges and ensure that all the challenges that result as a consequence of not having the capacity and not having adequate programme around the training of the supervisors themselves.

“And you are absolutely right Prof Burger, that to a large extent we rely on how we supervise. So, if my supervisor was not good, I am likely to perpetuate that. So I hope that Sisonke programme is going to draw the line to say hence forth we will have to build the capacity of our novice researchers, build the capacity  of our mid-career researchers,  build the capacity of our established researchers, because at each and every level there is a need for development… So we are looking forward as an institution, to say  from the executive management  point of view, we are fully behind you…”

Monday, 16 May 2022

C2 rating for Prof Van Zyl

The Faculty of Informatics and Design’s Prof Izak van Zyl has been upgraded from a Y2 to a C2-rated researcher by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Van Zyl works across disciplines, mainly in the areas of communication science and educational technology.

“I feel extremely proud and excited! I was nervous that I would not get upgraded, but am very relieved at the outcome,” he said.

According to the NRF the ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. The rating system encourages researchers to publish high quality outputs in high impact journals/outlets.

The ratings that are awarded fall within the following categories:

A – Leading international researchers

B – Internationally acclaimed researchers

C – Established researchers

P – Prestigious Awards

Y – Promising young researchers

Van Zyl’s most recent work concerned the use of WhatsApp as a teaching and learning tool for postgraduate students during the height of the pandemic in 2020. He worked with Prof Johannes Cronje on this initiative with students across the university.

His greatest achievements have included being rated the first time, being appointed as an associate professor at a young age, being a finalist at the 2019 Science Oscars and now being upgraded to an Established Researcher.

 “I am just honoured for being recognised for what I do, and to be able to contribute to the work of the university.”

The hard work and perseverance have propelled a CPUT alumna, Nomthandazo Mavuka, who is also an MBA candidate to the position of a Production Manager at Alrode Maltings, ABInBev.

A graduate in Diploma in Food Technology, Mavuka affectionately known as Thandi says: “Perseverance is the mother of success. You have to set your goals straight and you will succeed. When there were challenges, I did not give up. I kept my mind and eyes focused on my goals. When the going got tough, mine was to explore other ways of attaining my goals instead of changing my goals,” she continues.

“I grew up in a family that valued respect, education and hard work. My dad used to say, ‘hard work is the salvation of us all.’ From this, I understood immediately that there is no substitute for hard work. So, this shaped me into a hardworking and respectful professional. And these are the basic attributes that are essential for making it in the corporate world.”

The Khayelitsha born mother of two boys says when she went for her in-service training, her parents gave her a mandate to save 50% of her salary, meaning she could not buy some of the ‘nice things’, however once her in-service training came to an end , she had savings in her bank account and “my parents said it was mine… So, I was saving all along for myself, that I used to pay for my last year at CPUT”, and she was able to spoil herself– “talk about an independent woman!”

Reminiscing on her student life at CPUT, Mavuka says: “I had the time of my life… I had the best lecturers, they instilled discipline in me, supported me through the hardships of being a student. I learnt the correct way of studying at CPUT, we like a family, such that I am still in touch with some of my lectures even today.”

The biggest highlight that Mavuka believes changed her career was the short-term assignment she took in 2013, when she went to Ghana for 9 months. Her career took a positive shift once she got back. “It was a VUCA world. 2020 was a tough year as COVID-19 affected businesses financially – as we are in the business of making beer, our business was affected.”

In her current job, in which she started in 2019, her mandates are essentially to ensure that the company’s manufacturing processes are operating reliably and efficiently. Thus far, she has been executing the role exceptionally well. “I leave no stone unturned, as far as safety, quality and production is concerned. I would like to embrace change, take smart risks, and learn from my mistakes. As one of our company dreams is to never be completely satisfied with our results.”

A firm believer of fun, growing up she has always been a happy fun-loving young woman. Even now in her career, she always includes fun in every position or challenge she undertakes.

Despite her blossoming career, she has never deluded herself into believing that she will succeed easily. “My husband inspires me to be the best version of myself.” “I plan to continue making the best malt for that great beer taste until such time [I have] to hand over to my successor.”

She also admits that this has been the most challenging job ever in her career, and yet rewarding in terms of improving her confidence, her engagement with all levels. Before this, Mavuka was a Quality Manager where she was leading a small group of people.

“As a Production Manager, when the shop floor sneeze, then the whole site gets flu.”

Her aspiration is to become a Plant Manager and her current position is just before the Plant Manager position. “It is safe to say, I have worked extremely hard and smart to be here today.”

In her message to younger generation coming from a similar background, Mavuka says: “Dig deep into what drives you, what excites you, what inspires you, go for it and give it your all, own it!"

Vuyokazi Dwane, the newly appointed Senior Director in the Human Capital Department is ready to build the human and organisational capacity that will make CPUT future-fit and position its people to deliver effectively and efficiently on the strategic imperatives of Vision 2030.   

Following a meticulous appointment process, Dwane assumed her duties at the beginning of this month. “My big hairy audacious goal is to make CPUT "A Great Place to Work”. I will, therefore, be asking lots of questions about what this means for us – both internally and across the sector – and putting in place the necessary initiatives and teams to make this a reality. Personally, and professionally, I plan to learn and grow into the Vuyokazi who is able to make the best contribution to the workplace, the sector, individuals and teams I encounter.”

Dwane was born in Herschel, Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape but because of her father’s vocation as a church minister, theologian and academic, did not live there for long. The family subsequently lived in numerous parts of the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and thereafter, Cape Town where she studied and started her professional career.

The bubbly mother of two children who have, in large part, “influenced the contribution that I seek to make in the lives of people”, is a People practitioner and certified Integral Coach, having started her career as a Change Management Consultant and spent the first 12 years in a variety of project consulting environments. During this time, Dwane worked for global consultancies Accenture, Deloitte and, “most exciting”, the African in Space programme. She also worked on ERP system implementations and upgrades at Nampak and Standard Bank before embarking on the second half of her career as a Human Resources Leader.

“In this role I served both public and private institutions; global and local; in legal information, financial and education finance industries.”

Reflecting on her career journey, Dwane says: “It’s been a combination of a work ethic, a spirit of gratitude and relationships with family, friends, colleagues and mentors. All of this has been based on the foundation of a faith life. My growth path – in both human and professional terms – has not been without challenge yet each time I have progressed or overcome, I have worked hard and shown up, taken nothing for granted, relied on and worked with key people and maintained a discipline of the expression of my faith.”

She adds: “I am excited [about the appointment] and motivated! Immediately before this appointment I was doing some consulting work which, thanks to COVID-19, enabled me the flexibility to move closer to my children (Thantasiwe, 16 and Akpelo, 9) at their Eastern Cape boarding school and spend much-needed quality time with them.”

Her parents attached a premium value on education and excellence. They were passionate about community and made a significant contribution towards building the church and the communities in which they lived. “I was raised in a loving, trusting, nurturing family environment and this influenced my desire to show people that they are valued and cared for. I am driven by my need to show compassion and empathy which are relevant and valuable in the workplace but are not always appropriately regarded due to how professionalism is perceived.”

In her message for the younger generation, Dwane says: “There are two key messages, the first is: take time to understand your gifts, talents and the contribution that only you can make. The second is that relationships are everything: take time to build and nurture them.”  Despite a successful career, Dwane says challenges have been plenty. “I prefer to focus on the lessons and the grit that these challenges have imparted to me. I am particularly grateful for the perspective and insights that such challenges reveal to me – it becomes easier to appreciate and empathise with others’ circumstances when you have weathered similar trials.”

Monday, 09 May 2022

Director joins AIEA board

The director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, Prof Judy Peter, has joined the board of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA).

AIEA is the only association dedicated exclusively to senior leaders in the field of international education. AIEA members are senior international officers (SIOs) who serve as leaders of higher education institutions and of organisations that support international higher education.

Serving on the board of AIEA is an opportunity for senior international officers to set the agenda for the future of Global Higher Education.

“I am interested in the at - Large Board Member position as a chance to add diverse perspectives from the global south. I have been an active member since 2018 who has benefited immensely as an SIO and would further value the opportunity to participate and provide thought leadership on this high impact global platform. Issues on inclusivity, diversity and bridging political and economic divides are areas where I can contribute to on focused task forces,” says Peter.

The benefits of involvement include:

  • Playing a significant role in advancing the Senior International Officer position and the importance of internationalisation
  • An opportunity to enhance the value of AIEA to the field and colleagues
  • Shaping the field of international higher education