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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.”

Students from the Department of Nursing Science recently participated in an orientation workshop hosted by HAN University from the Netherlands.

The students were invited for a two-day workshop in Theewaterskloof, which focused on Intercultural consciousness and Cross-cultural communication.

“The Dutch students have done reflection on the South African culture and there has been a lot of learning that took place during the international and intercultural exchange, hopefully being the start of long-standing connections and more workshops in the future,” said Bachelor of Nursing Coordinator, Amy Williams.

Reflecting on the experience, third-year Bachelor of Nursing Science student, Aspasia Solomon, said the cross-cultural communication workshop, which took place on day one, held many important learning experiences and covered a wide range of topics relating to intercultural communication.

“Two things that stood out for me was how different cultures can be so alike yet so vastly different in terms of power index for example, and the need to have an open mind when exploring another culture. However, not only an open mind but also cultural competence, knowledge, sensitivity and limit one’s internal cultural noise.”

Meanwhile a group of first-year students from the Department recently participated in the Night Run to honour Nurses.

The Night Run to Honour Nurses was hosted by the Exceptional Nurse Campaign with the as a fundraiser for bursaries to support student nurses. The message was to honour and express deep gratitude to all the exceptional nurses of our nation.

The Bachelor of Nursing first-year students participated as a group to support their peers and represent CPUT in this wonderful initiative.

“I took part in the Nurses Night Run for the first time and what an amazing experience it was. The run was well supported by non-nurses and quite a few student nurses and registered nurses as well and before the commencement of the run, we were greeted by a few special guests, including the Minister of Health in the Western Cape,” said first-year student, Keziah Dodgen.

“Overall, I had a positive and good experience as I enjoyed the route, got to meet new people and the view we had along the way has been another plus as well. I definitely see myself entering again next year.”

Distinguished Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Mahabubur Chowdhury has been inducted into the esteemed South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).

SAYAS which was established in 2011, inducts 10 young (younger than 40 years) vibrant researchers who have made a significant mark in their field every year. These members form part of various working groups such as policy making, science communication etc. After five years of service, members become alumni and are replaced by newly elected members.

“This is a stamp of approval on the quality of the research that I have produced so far. This nomination will strive me to do better science and quality science” Chowdhury enthused. SAYAS received 31 nominations from the whole country and only 10 get inducted this year. The process is rigorous.

“Your research impact on the field and your overall contribution to the field are assessed by independent assessors. Only the top 10 candidates get inducted.”

Chowdhury said the Department of Chemical Engineering is filled with excellent academics and that there are only two SAYAS members from CPUT to the “best of my knowledge and both of them are from Chemical Engineering”. “It’s a great testament to the institution, that this institution is nurturing future leaders in their field,” he continued.

“Any prestigious staff achievement is the institution's achievement, as no staff exists without the institution.”

Chowdhury added: “It's very important to do good science. One of my fears is harming science by doing science. Hence, it's very important that the quality of science we scientists do must be of the highest quality.” His aspiration is to “do good science that improves the quality of science we have”.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

CPUT’s Top Feeder Schools Commended

CPUT’s Marketing and Communication Department has acknowledged the efforts of principals, life orientation teachers and community organisations in inspiring hope in young academically gifted youngsters.

A gala dinner event was recently hosted by the institution to commend CPUT’s top 20 feeder schools. These are schools who consistently enrol the most number of learners to CPUT, and Thandokhulu High School in Mowbray took the top honour.

The event also commended the role that community leaders and their organisations do in ensuring youngsters consider a university education.

Student recruitment Officer Thandokazi Mtshekisa commended everyone present for working in tandem with CPUT to inspire the next generation.

“Without you there is no CPUT,” she said.

“Thank you for all the hard work you are doing in the communities to keep hope alive for these learners and encourage them to come to study further.”

One of the community leaders commended was Latifah Jacobs from Kuils River.

She was nominated by CPUT Student Recruitment Officer Grant Barends who commended her ability to call youth to action in her community.

“Apart from the wonderful community work that she does in Kuils River (feeding the community and assisting with relief when required), Latifah also assisted in mobilising learners from all the schools in the area to participate in a higher education expo that CPUT was participating in. This meant the message of studying further reached more young people than just one school,” he says.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr David Phaho told the guests that he was proud to be partnering with them to make a difference.

“To be in this room this evening means that you have done the groundwork to ensure your learners are eligible for acceptance to CPUT.”

“In short, we understand you and you understand us. Thank you for trusting CPUT as a partner in this journey of educating the future leaders of this country.”

The Strategic Initiatives and Partnership (SIP) Directorate recently hosted Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences who has an existing collaboration with the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences (FBMS).

The aim was to touch base with FBMS and to expand the collaboration to other faculties.

“In this regard, the SIP Office was contacted to engage in discussions as to how we can expand on the partnership, in particular there was interest with the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE),” said Dr Tasmeera Singh, Manager: International Relations SIP.

The CPUT delegation included SIP director, Prof Judy Peter, Prof Veruscha Fester: Assistant Dean: Research, Technology, Innovation & Partnerships (FEBE), Dr Fareed Ismail: Senior Lecturer/Researcher of FEBE and Xolelwa Bashala: Office Administrator of Strategic Initiatives and Partnership meanwhile Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences was represented by Veronika Wäninger: Non-EU Mobility of Stabsabteilung International Office.

Peter extended a warm welcome to everyone present in the meeting. Fester conducted a presentation about the FEBE which included the CPUT structure and background:
  • FEBE structure and governance
  • CPUT V2030 Focus areas applicable to FEBE
  • FEBE Undergraduate and Postgraduate programmes
  • Faculty research focus areas
  • FEBE Flagship projects
Peter conducted a short presentation about the Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships:
  • The CPUT Smart Focus Areas
  • SIP Internationalisation role
  • Facilitate student leadership and agency
  • CPUT active partnerships (Erasmus+, African and International)
  • International Education Forum

Singh said the meeting was “very good” as there is great potential for expanding the collaboration constructively.

There were also discussions on potential collaborations around engineering management, staff exchange for Nano and 3D printing fields of research. Singh added that the “successful meeting was a starting point for further engagement with different faculties across CPUT”.

Friday, 18 November 2022

State-of-the-art Elastic Gym opened

The Faculty of Education recently celebrated the opening of a state-of-the-art Elastic Resistance Training Facility – a project which aims to boost physical education teaching.

The facility is based at the Mowbray campus and speakers at the event included Charl du Toit, who won two gold medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Sandro Di Girolamo, President of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA).

Attendees were also treated to a demonstration on the elastic system.

The gym is the brainchild of the Faculty’s Dr George Joubert.

“One of my PhD recommendations referred to the implementation of physical education systems that could address the specific physical needs of primary school learners but also have the ability to be used in relative small spaces with a maximum amount of learners that can train together, over a short period of time. As a lecturer I am also constantly looking at innovative ideas and concepts that my students can be exposed to, that will have a profound positive impact on their journey as young teaching practitioners,” said Joubert.

The main objectives are to:
  • Develop a physical education teacher base that is well trained in the elastic system
  • Create a specific teaching method and curricula for the system
  • Do extensive research on the value of elastic resistance on children in partnership with IBSA.

Joubert said the gym is funded by a sponsorship agreement with Ultimate Resistance Training (URT) systems.

“Mr Charl du Plessis is an ex provincial rugby player, conditioning guru, and founder of the URT systems. Charl worked with the South African rugby Union and the Lions Rugby Union for several years, but his desire to create fundamental development concepts took over the last few years. CPUT is very honoured and excited to join forces with this revolutionary new way of training through the URT systems.”

Du Toit gave his congratulations to everyone involved in the project.

“This is the foundation for great memories and actually to change lives without realising it. So well done and I’m very excited to see what the impact of this gym, this facility and this family is going to be over the next couple of years,” he said.

Di Girolamo said he was very happy to be at CPUT and emphasised the important role universities played in terms of research on sport.

The main role-players of the initiative are: CPUT’s Department of Education and the Sport Management Department, IBSA, the Forward Foundation, Winelands Para Sport and the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

The Residence Business Unit (RBU) continues to make strides in its quest to ensure a client centred approach for the benefit of all students in residences.

A designed supply plan by the RBU, a unit of the Department of Finance, has resulted in more than 4 000 beds being added to the system in the past few years.

According to the unit, this has meant that more than 40% of the student population are able to be accommodated by the university – a huge stride from the 23% prior to 2018.

“This has, however, come with a serious commitment for the RBU to reach these targets and striking a balance and understanding the economics of the student accommodation market around our campuses, region and nationally, with careful financial decisions which have to be considered for every step taken,” said Phillip Chibvuri, CPUT Finance Specialist.

The focus is not only on increasing beds but the RBU has taken a Sustainable Business Model Innovation approach, consisting of four stages to reach sustainable levels.

These are:

  • Increase supply of beds - which was met per targets
  • Focus on the quality of supply - a process was crafted for standards and protecting the brand CPUT when going into business with the private sector.
  • Automation and communication within the Model - this is a pertinent area which sees the RBU establishing rapport, relations and process flows with stakeholders to achieve a desired operational model.
  • Going into 2023, the unit and university will be looking at a Client-Centric Approach (CCA), where the first three stages of the strategy will allow the focus on the client to be more ‘real’ and have a notable impact on creating the desired client experience.

Chibvuri said several projects have been administered by the unit, which shows the wheels on the four stages beginning to move in sync and setting the runway for a sustainable residential operation. Several infrastructure and other needs have to be upgraded in the institution’s owned residences to start seeing sustainability.

“We still need to plough in a lot of dedicated work to attain a good result. The market and its variables need to be understood to avoid pitfalls. The risks are there but need to be managed and, in some instances, risks can be opportunities if the “risk culture” is cultivated well within our local business ecosystem,” said Chibvuri.

“The distance between us now and total success is dedication and real commitment toward understanding our client, environment and intentional good culture. There are things that will need to change inevitably with the times and foster us into the future. We should take all the wins thus far and grow them and at the same time look at our oversights more carefully and learn from them,” said Johnny Basson, Business Manager.

The RBU has also embarked on a beautification project of residences where common and other areas that hold significant importance in the living and learning environment, but may have been neglected, have been enhanced. This has included beautifully painted murals.

Chibvuri said residences have become like second classrooms since the Covid-19 pandemic

“Making these spaces more liveable and workable is a priority. The residences have become more than just a bed facility and that has to be widely understood.”