News

Following the successful Sisonke 2.0 Certification and Celebration Day at the Cape Town Hotel School recently, Adjunct Professor in the Education Faculty, Janet Condy, has urged the CPUT community to “please” volunteer to be part of this unique Sisonke 3.0 project in 2024.

“We believe this is a wonderful capacity development programme for novice supervisors,” said Condy. She said supervision remains an academic practice that requires continuous learning and refining, but more can be done to support and capacitate supervisors. Condy said that world-wide supervisors are struggling with two issues of quality and capacity, “they are expected to be supervising and getting more and more PHD candidates through, despite our students lacking the necessary academic skills. Hence building sustainable higher education supervision mentoring programmes is needed to increase completion and prepare them for work in the higher education sector as well as in professional practice”. “There is a general agreement among academics that this process requires a 'special pedagogy'.”

She said since 2021, a few core participants at CPUT have been working on the Sisonke Supervision Mentoring Programme (SSMP). 'Sisonke' in isiXhosa means 'together' or 'to bridge'. This transdisciplinary research project, involving multiple stakeholders, driven by a real-world problem, has the potential to produce transformative and sustainable supervision pedagogies. Condy said supervision practice was the mutually agreed upon point of reference, which provided a basis for shared language.

At the Sisonke 2.0 Certification and Celebration Day, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation Technology and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho, welcomed the guests, and provided the opening address where he hailed the “exceptional work” done by the Sisonke Supervision Mentoring programme. The keynote address was delivered by Prof Stephanie Burton and was titled: Supervision and supervisors: Being inspired and inspiring.

Condy said in 2023 there were about 72 volunteer mentors and mentees who attended the 12-week Learning Programme from 4 August to 26 October, every Thursday between 13:00 and 14:30. During this time they included a 40-minute input by an expert in a particular field, then they went to break-away groups with their mentors and mentees. In these smaller groups they discussed the topic they have listened to. Finally in the last 30 minutes they all went back to the main group where the mentors reflected on the discussions in each group.

Reflecting on her overall impression about the event, she said: “For me the best part of the day was meeting face-to-face with all the mentors and mentees. All the speakers spoke eloquently on this very necessary topic and gave us much to think about.

“The activity which Prof Retha De La Harpe did with us was exciting as we worked together reflecting on our past learning and thinking ahead of what we want to achieve. The certificates were a highlight as well - it was wonderful to see how excited people were to receive these.”

She added that in 2020 the Director of the Research Development Directorate, Prof Dina Burger, had invited her and De La Harpe to run with this project. They both wrote the initial proposal and got ethical clearance for this research project. Currently Condy is heading the project with Dr Heather Phillips who manages the Learning Programme. “We have a large research team.”

A creative Architectural Technology and Interior Design student has been announced as one of the winners in an international design competition while two other students received honourable mentions.

Laikyn Julies won the Interior Design - SPA / Fitness / Wellness category of the BLT Build Design Awards 2023 for her entry titled: Salvia Medical Clinic.

The awards ceremony was recently held in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Inge Botha received an honourable mention for her "Primary Care Clinic" design in the Interior Design category and Krystle Williams received an honourable mention for her "Good Hope Primary Care Clinic" design in the same category.

Laikyn, who hails from Ottery, said she was humbled and honoured to be selected as one of the winners.

“At first I didn’t realise how big this achievement was, but the look on my mom’s face made this achievement every more heart-warming.”

She described her entry as follows:

“My design called the Salvia Medical Centre was designed to offer solace amid the challenges of the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers and patients alike experienced anxiety, exhaustion, and post-traumatic stress during this period. To combat this, the clinic aimed to create a safe and welcoming environment. Private examination rooms and collaborative spaces struck a balance between safety and social interaction.

“Biophilic design principles inspired the incorporation of natural elements, including colours and materials reminiscent of the salvia plant's health benefits. A soothing palette of pale greens akin to sage promotes tranquillity. Earthy curves and timber slats add a natural touch. Blues accentuated wayfinding and staff areas, while patient examination rooms featured vibrant South African wallpaper, mirroring salvia's seasonal flowering hues, providing visual variety.”

She thanked senior lecturer, Colleen Cocotos for her support.

“She has helped out with material as well as sent links and information to aid us in our design and has even gone as far as taking time from her weekends to assist and critique our designs, in order for us to receive personal attention so that we receive the best possible mark. And for that I am truly thankful.”

Inge said she felt extremely honoured to have received an honourable mention.

“The concept behind the design, logo and name of Coastal Primary Care Clinic was inspired by the well-known coast found in the Western Cape. The Western Cape is widely known for its coast and famous beaches set up all around, where the locals as well as tourists go to relax during the summer or even during winter. To South Africans as well as to people from all over the world, the ocean is a powerful symbol. It is a symbol of calmness, hope and life.”

Krystle said she felt proud of her design and “truly grateful” for being recognised in an international competition.

Describing her entry, she said: “My design is a proposal for the renovation of a primary care clinic in the Western Cape. My focus was creating a welcoming environment for both the patients and staff. My design language included curved lines and access to daylight to keep the space feeling open and inviting. I placed special attention on incorporating Biophilic Design principles through my use of materials, graphics, and material choices.

“My design represents inclusivity. I achieved this by ensuring that wheelchair users and children are able to access all areas of the clinic. I specified chairs and exam beds that could accommodate Bariatric patients. I aimed to create a clinic where all patients could feel welcome and at ease.”

Cocotos who attended the ceremony in Switzerland, said: “I am truly proud of Laikyn, Krystle and Inge’s achievements in the BLT Awards. These Awards do not only honour students but also recognise the best industry design work. It was an honour to be a part of the awards ceremony and to present the winning projects to selected industry partners.”

Head of Department, Rayner Moodley, commended the students’ achievements,

“Our students' success in the BLT Build Design Awards 2023 is a testament to their exemplary talent and dedication. I commend Laikyn Julies, Inge Botha, and Krystle Williams for their outstanding achievements, reflecting the high standard of excellence within our department. These accolades reinforce our commitment to nurturing innovative and skilled professionals in architectural technology and interior design.”

The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering recently visited Standard Profil to assist lecturers to see how the graduates and work integrated learning students are performing in the workplace.

The lecturers also want to understand which tools and techniques taught in class are mostly applied in the industry. The company “add value to lives with our automotive sealing solutions by making mobility safe and comfortable.” They produce door, window, boot, and other sealing systems for most automobile brands globally from “initial design to car assembly”.

Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering Lecturer, Dr Desiree Jaftha, said the visit presented the department with an opportunity to foster industry-academia collaboration. Potential areas of collaboration include the use of test laboratories at the University that are relevant to industry requirements and exploring research areas based on real problems in the industry. “The engagement was also an opportunity for lecturers to touch base with the real-world application of theory and benefits the department in blending and bridging the gap between theory and practise for the creation of a more realistic learning environment that improves the quality of graduates from the department and university.”

Jaftha said the lecturers also had an insight into possible careers paths for the students and this helps lecturers to better prepare the students for the work environment. The visit was also a networking opportunity for lecturers and could create consultancy opportunities for the department. “The quality manager, Logan Govender, indicated that Standard Profil would continue to provide CPUT [with] bursaries for earmarked staff and provide opportunities for our work integrated learning students.”

Jaftha has a long-standing relationship with this company who has always been keen on providing CPUT students and graduates with placement and permanent work opportunities. “Our Advanced Diploma: Quality graduate, who is the quality manager at the company, invited us to come and do a walk about and learn more about how they have implemented and are maintaining the industrial and quality systems knowledge acquired through our courses…

“This helps us to fine-tune our curriculum and teaching methods in a way to produce work-ready graduates who contribute to the growth of their current and future employers.” The staff members were taken through safety induction with a video, the employees (CPUT alumni) gave short presentations, and the students came to greet their lecturers. The staff members were then received by the quality manager who gave them an overview of the company and explained their quality management system operating processes. They were then taken through the manufacturing plant and quality assurance laboratories.

They were shown the prototypes of different automobile brands. There were also recommendations to:

  • investigate the capacity of CPUT laboratories to perform the company’s required tests.
  • Explore research areas from the company that can lead to projects or consultancy.
  • Invite industry practitioners for guest lectures for different subjects within our qualifications.

Individual lecturers can incorporate case studies from the company from their observations when teaching. Jaftha said the exposure was quite an eye-opening one, especially for the supply chain in the automotive Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) and Original Design Manufacturing (ODM). “There was positive feedback regarding our qualifications content. It was impressive seeing the performance of former students and the value that they have brought to the company. The audio-visual presentations were top-notch, especially the safety protocol, it could be adopted for our Diploma: Industrial Engineering first years. Overall, the visit brought lasting impressions to everyone who participated, it was an awesome event! We are anticipating similar industry visits next year.”

She continued: “I feel that this visit was very useful and important for the department and that regular visits of this kind should be organised every year.”

The Faculty of Business and Management Sciences’ (FBMS) newly launched state-of-the-art smart classroom is set to redefine the learning, teaching and assessment landscape.

At the launch of the cutting-edge venue, situated on the District Six Campus, Prof Paul Green, Dean of the Faculty, welcomed the attendees and said the innovative space was not merely a room but “a hub designed to transcend traditional boundaries, facilitating a spectrum of academic and collaborative activities.”

“Our collective vision of One Smart CPUT, as envisaged in the Institution’s Vision 2030, has been met with resounding enthusiasm in the FBMS and the action of the faculty expresses that this morning.”

He said the venue had been purposefully designed and would be able to host a myriad of functions including advanced postgraduate classes, webinars, colloquia as well as facilitate hybrid academic events and advisory board meetings, among other things.

“The Faculty of Business and Management Sciences is immensely proud to pioneer this transformative initiative in line with CPUT's ambitious Vision 2030. This smart venue embodies our commitment to excellence in education and serves as a beacon of innovation for the entire institution.”

Attendees were treated to a demonstration of the smart venue’s functions and capabilities.

Prof Rishidaw Balkaran, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, said the facility “creates the conditions for much more production and productivity in terms of our academics”.

He thanked Green and the Faculty for their commitment to the project.

Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo said what was key about the mission of the institution “is that we are saying CPUT transforms its students through world class researchers who inspire knowledge production and innovation that are cutting-edge”.

Nhlapo said CPUT was ready to be the MIT equivalent in Africa.

He said he anticipated that other faculties would follow suit.

The Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (BIIC) was recently joined by entrepreneurs, innovators, and potential stakeholders to celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship at the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre.

BIIC and numerous presenters took the audience through the world of innovation, as they presented a curated selection of groundbreaking projects nurtured within the BIIC. The attendees met the visionaries behind these ventures, connected with industry experts, and the innovators explored sponsorship and collaboration opportunities. For many it was an opportunity to discover the future of entrepreneurship and creating partnerships that drive innovation.

The aim of the event was to showcase to the University community and BIIC stakeholders, the ideas of CPUT students that have been innovated by the Centre and about to be incubated and become start-ups and its goal was to attract more students, investors, partners, technology mentors and coaches.

In her opening remarks, Assistant Dean: Research and Innovation, Prof Renitha Rampersad, said the BIIC is an entity which is aimed at producing and growing sustainable innovative technologically driven startups or small businesses from identified and promising business concepts of students and/or graduates either from research outputs or capstone projects and providing the necessary resources and support to help these startups grow and thrive on a University Campus.

Rampersad stated that the showcase offered a unique opportunity to learn about the creative activities and developments taking place at CPUT and to gain insights into cutting-edge projects that will help shape the future and celebrate the amazing innovation and entrepreneurship activities and “off course it is all thanks to the BIIC”. “We are living in a period of rapid change driven by innovation and technology and such change is due to our digital natives, these young men and women, surrounding you today who are well exposed to technologies and the knowledge economy, social platforms and the world wide web, and who are dedicated to discovering the future of entrepreneurship and creating partnerships that drive innovation.”

She said the technologies to be developed through BIIC by students and young entrepreneurs will accelerate the development and success of startups where BIIC provides a structured and supportive environment that maximises their chances of becoming successful, sustainable businesses.

Director: Technology Transfer & Industry Linkages, Dr Revel Iyer, who was a guest speaker, touched on the unemployment rate in South Africa, entrepreneurship in higher education, the startup support structures and many more topics. The head of BIIC, Prof Michael Twum-Darko, who is also the mentor, said: “The highlight to me was how far these students have come – from day one that they couldn’t even articulate what they want to do pitching their businesses humbled me. Some of these students come from rural areas and township who dreamt of solutions to addressing societal problems.”

Since its establishment, Twum-Darko said the challenges at BIIC have been manoeuvring through institutional policies to establish partnerships, collaboration and to raise funds for the activities of the Centre. He said the success has been the students’ projects some of which were showcased which will make them becoming employers instead of employees with their degrees from CPUT.

He also expects more students’ participation, improved relationship, and support from institutional structures for the “sake of the students and non-students’ ideas from communities in and round Western Cape”.

Rampersad added: “To our Innovators, it is great to see young people like you all taking the future into your own hands, with the fresh perspectives and fearlessness that the world needs. The imagination and energy you bring makes every difference in the global adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals. And your impact is especially great to the future we are already adapting to.

Today is a celebration of CPUT's newest innovators and entrepreneurs. Well done to each of you-you have the potential to achieve great things.”

Thursday, 30 November 2023

Advancing Cardiometabolic Research

In a bid to delve into the intricate intersection of health and technology, the SAMRC/CPUT Cardiometabolic Health Research Unit recently held a symposium under the theme: Cardiometabolic Disease in the Technological Era.

Guests and scholars convened at the Cape Town Hotel School to explore the symposium's focal point. The keynote address was delivered by Prof Faadiel Essop, Director of the Centre for Cardiometabolic Research in Africa (CARMA) at the Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI), based at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Stellenbosch University. Essop's talk, which was titled: Enhancing Cardiometabolic Research Care: Innovations for a Healthier Tomorrow, set the tone for an intellectually stimulating day.

The symposium unfolded through four distinct sessions, each delving into critical facets of the field, namely: artificial intelligence, point of care and medical devices, e-health, and personalised medicine. Distinguished national experts and academics, among them Dr. Ashlin Rampul, a representative of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) young scientist task team; Prof Annalise Zemlin, Head of Division: Chemical Pathology at Stellenbosch University; Prof Kotsedi Monyeki from the Department of Physiology and Environmental Health at the University of Limpopo; and James Ross, Co-Founder and CEO of BixBio, a biotech company that is disrupting global healthcare by unlocking the power of African genomes for drug development, generously shared ground-breaking scientific advancements and practical experiences. Their collective insights not only expanded the horizons of knowledge but also fostered a deeper understanding of cardiometabolic health within the dynamic landscape of rapid technological evolution.

What set the symposium apart was the active participation of young emerging researchers in pivotal organisational roles. The organising committee, consisting of Dr Saarah Davids, Dr Shanel Raghubeer, Dr Cecil Weale, Dr Dipuo Motshwari and Dr Don Matshazi, who played a central role in the event. All members of the organizing committee are affiliated with the South African Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (SAACB), falling under the auspices of the African Federation of Clinical Chemistry (AFCC) and the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC). Guiding this dynamic team of emerging researchers are esteemed figures in the field : Prof Tandi Matsha, Prof Glenda Davison and Prof Rajiv Erasmus. These seasoned scientists have provided mentorship, fostering an environment conducive to innovative research in the realm of non-communicable diseases.

This dynamic blend of established expertise and emerging talent underscored the commitment to advancing cardiometabolic research and heralded a promising trajectory for the future of healthcare in the technological age.

Davison, who is the Head of CPUT’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and co-director of the SAMRC/CPUT Cardiometabolic Health research unit, said:

"For me two current themes were highlighted across all the sessions. These were the power of collaboration and the move to toward interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary partnerships. If we are able to work together, I believe the future is bright for South Africa and Africa."

It is abundantly clear that the CPUT executive and management’s hearts are geared towards the development of the marginalised persons to reach their full potential.

These are the words of the Managing Director: Fisheries Economic Development Research Advisory and Training Institute (FEDRATI), Dr Mark Botha. Speaking at the formal launch of the FEDRATI and CPUT strategic partnership at Granger Bay Campus, Botha said: “Today, my dream is being realised thanks to industry as represented by Brimstone and Sea Harvest; and academia, as represented by Cape Peninsula University of Technology. That is, the advancement of the fisheries sector through a strategic collaboration between academia and industry.”

The new strategic partnership agreement concluded between FEDRATI and CPUT is expected to boost the South African Oceans Economy and, in particular, the Small-Scale Fisheries Economy. This partnership is supported by South African Fisheries Development Fund. FEDRATI initiated the partnership and provides a vehicle for industry (currently Brimstone Investment Corporation and Sea Harvest Corporation) to interact with academia, in this case CPUT, to foster synergistic institutional relations. “In doing so, the fisheries economy is being advanced, and academia are able to provide industry responsible and learning programmes,” he said.

To date FEDRATI has awarded bursaries to postgraduate students in excess of R2 million for fisheries and allied sectors research. Botha, who has been actively involved in the fisheries sector, particularly the small-scale fisheries sector) for 22 years, said over the years several challenges facing the sector have been identified. These include the lack of resources, training, and research to meet the sector’s economic developmental needs.

Through his PhD research, he conceptualised the need for a single delivery institute for the fisheries sector to address and consolidate all developmental challenges in a holistic manner. “Such an institute ought to focus on: research (Commercial and Academic), education and training, and business advisory services (coaching and mentoring).”

Botha had presented the collaboration concept to CPUT with backing from industry who instantly bought into the concept. With the assistance of the former and current Research Chairs of CPUT’s Oceans Economy – Centre for Sustainable Oceans, Prof Ken Findlay and Dr Conrad Sparks and the executive management at CPUT, the concept morphed into an institutional strategic partnership between CPUT and FEDRATI. “Furthermore, what makes this partnership unique is that it falls directly under the office of the deputy vice-chancellor. The FEDRATI-CPUT partnership fosters both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, training and advisory services.

“Our primary aim is to stimulate fisheries economic development through an institutional partnership between [the] industry and higher education – a first for South Africa.”

In his opening remarks, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation, and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho, recognised the presence and contributions of executives from Sea Harvest, Mary-Lou Harry, the COO, Konrad Geldenhuys, Botha as well as executives from Brimstone Investment Corporation under the leadership of Dr Fred Robertson. Phaho said: “Our relationship with the private sector will become even more important. In line with our strategic Vision, V2030, we have identified our relationship with Quintuple Helix partners, government, industry, society, and the environment as key to our long-term sustainability as an institution of higher learning.”

He continued: “Central to that is our commitment to focus on research activities which have a tangible impact on society as well as focusing on skills development which are aligned to the needs of the industry. CPUT is deeply appreciative of the overwhelming support of FEDRATI) through its funders for our postgraduate bursary programme and its mutually beneficial partnership with our Centre for Sustainable Oceans.”

Phaho also said the executive management would extend an invitation to the partners in FEDRATI to outline their plans to collaborate with companies in the fisheries and related sectors to ensure that “the broader society benefits sustainably from the bounty provided by our oceans”. Reflecting on the event, Botha said: “I was deeply moved by the support from both industry (Brimstone and Sea Harvest) and CPUT.

Acting Chair: Centre for Sustainable Oceans, Dr Conrad Sparks said the CPUT's role is to conduct research and projects that link fishing industries with societal needs and that the launch event was a “huge success and the start of a very fruitful engagement between CPUT and FEDRATI. “The partnership will strengthen opportunities for CPUT (via the centre for Sustainable Oceans) to build on its strategic plan V2030, in particular Focus Areas 2, 6 and 7 within the fisheries (and related) sectors.”

Director of the Research Development Directorate, Prof Dina Burger said they have a pride to be part of the launch as it was a testimony of a dream that so many role-players have had. Burger thanked all the dignitaries representing the respective stakeholders for the opportunity to co-partner and journey with them and for the collective efforts to support CPUT research as well as the students.

She said at the event, FEDRATI and CPUT solidified their partnership for many years to come. In Burger emphasised the importance of a compact between CPUT and communities and explained that the research and projects that they would ideally prefer to be involved with should originate from the community and should be carefully co-planned and created between the community and CPUT researchers and should ultimately find its way back to the community where it originated from.

“At CPUT we are committed to undertake relevant research for the benefit of society and to be taken up by society. I encourage the Interim Chair, Dr Sparks, to engage with the communities present from the West Coast to jointly decide on the most pressing issues of concern that they believe we should research.”