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The Eight International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Africa (NanoAfrica 2022), which took place at The Lord Charles Hotel recently, provided an opportunity for scientists and engineers to share their research.

The conference ‘belongs’ to the South African Nanotechnology Initiative (SANi) and CPUT was chosen to host it. The institution worked closely with neighbouring institutions who served on the Local Organising Committee with the University of the Western Cape (UWC), CSIR, HySA and IthembaLabs/UNISA. “We worked very well together as a team,” said chairperson of the Local Organising Committee, Prof Veruscha Fester.

The focus of the successful conference was to showcase how nanoscience and nanotechnology are assisting the world in attaining sustainable developmental goals. Apart from cutting edge research, the conference also provided a platform for emerging researchers to present their work. The three-day scientific programme featured plenary/keynote, presentations, invited talks and poster presentations.

The conference had plenary speakers with “h-indices” of more than 150 and it also focussed on addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The three parallel sessions consisted of Nanomaterials for Energy, Nanomaterials for Water Applications and Nanomaterials for health, biomedical and biotechnology applications, amongst others.

Fester said: “We had very highly cited plenary speakers and the rest of South Africa’s up and coming nanoscientists.” She also acknowledged the conference sponsors: UNESCO, Unisa, Department of Science & Innovation, Angstrom, Merck, SASOL, SAASTA and Metrohm SA, ITLABS/NRF Africa Chair on Nanosciences and Nanotechnology.

This year, NanoAfrica was co-hosted with the 6th South African Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Summer School, enabling the organisers to bring those at all levels together. “We are also immensely proud that most of our speakers are from South Africa and the African continent. We have ensured that other continents are represented with plenary and keynote speakers from the United States of America and Europe,” Fester said. The representatives comprised of the following:

  • Universities of technology 10%
  • Traditional universities 80%
  • Business 2%
  • Research institutions 8%

The plenary and keynote address came from different prestigious institutions, including, Prof Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (Switzerland), Prof Dionysios Dionysiou: University of Cincinnati (USA), Prof Stephan Barcikowski: University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), Prof Paul van Loosdrecht: University of Cologne (Germany), Prof Suchi Guha: University of Missouri-Columbia (USA), Prof Federico Rosei: University of Du Québec, Varennes (Canada), Dr Artur Braun: EMPA (Switzerland), Prof Fabian Ezema: University of Nigeria, Prof Emmanuel Iwuoha: UWC and Prof Ahmed Mohammed: CPUT

“It [conference] was a great platform to share knowledge in Nanosciences in South Africa and Africa. It provided an opportunity to networking amongst peers,” she observed.

She added that the conference provided delegates with new ideas for future research towards meeting SDGs, such as exploring catalyst that works in the infrared area and the importance still on improving efficiency of solar panels.

A group of students in the Biomedical Sciences Department showcased their skills and creativity during a recent multilingual video project.

With the aim of helping to address the lack of educational resources available in many of our official languages, Extended Curriculum Programme students were tasked with creating an educational video in their home language (excluding English).

The video had to be targeted at future first-year students studying immunology and cell biology.

The students worked in groups and their videos were recently screened to their peers.

Senior lecturer, Dr Lisa Graham, said the main objectives were for students to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter and to foster a sense of pride and responsibility, “as they were contributing to transformation in the Higher Education sector”.

“Generating a multilingual library containing educational videos about scientific topics which are generally only discussed in English is an additional bonus.”

The project was initiated as a concept for a community engagement project when Graham was doing the Teacher Development Programme in 2018.

“The Service-Learning Department encouraged me to register the project and it was piloted in 2019. The pilot was a great success and initiated the development of our own departmental YouTube channel. These videos are published on the channel and serve as a learning aid for current and future students.”

Graham said she was very proud of the videos the students produced. “The students were innovative and brave, took full responsibility and initiative and put care into the project. I feel the results align wonderfully with the graduate attributes we wish to foster at CPUT – enhancing technological capability and foresight, fostering resilience and problem-solving capabilities, and improving relational and ethical capabilities of the participants. I am very excited about the future of this project.”

The Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development: Language Unit’s Nomxolisi Jantjies and Alexa Anthonie assisted with the project.

“Since the scripts are indigenous languages, our unit assists with quality checking and ensuring that the language used is within context. In cases where scripts are developed in languages other than English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa we source external language experts to quality check.”

Jantjies said the videos were a great way for students to showcase their creativity and their contribution to knowledge production.

“It is evident that a lot went into producing the videos. What was more amazing is that they were able to transfer knowledge using indigenous languages, languages that are often thought of as lacking for scientific thought. The students demonstrated that with collaboration it is possible to create field-specific content in indigenous languages while also contributing in documenting these languages.”

Students described the experience as a wonderful learning experience, which taught them more about their topics as well as new words.

“I learnt more than I expected and it was a great experience,” said student Bukho Joni.

The project was showcased at the 2022 CPUT Language Indaba:

The Maritime Department recently hosted a four-day International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST) Meeting and Seminar: “The Use of Simulators in Safety and Survival Training”, at  Granger Bay campus.

IASST is a highly professional organisation, which pays efforts to improve the efficiency of safety and survival training all over the world, therefore, saving the lives of seafarers. The IASST has vast experience of more than 40 years in the field, which is combined with the expertise of all its members. It is a huge network of more than 150 members, located in more than 50 countries and on all continents. Every single member contributes to the development of the association and the safety of seafarers.

The event had 20 delegates coming from CPUT: Department of Maritime Studies, Project Maritime Training: South Africa, Sea Safety Training Group: South Africa, Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK): Japan, National Maritime College of Ireland: Ireland, Survival Systems Limited: Canada, Maritiem Instituut Willem Barentsz: Netherlands, WoW Company International SA: Belgium, Novikontas: Latvia, The Centre for the Study and Practice of Survival (CEPS): France and FISH Platform: Netherlands.

Senior Maritime Instructor and Manager: Department of Maritime Studies: Survival Centre, Samantha Montes, who was the event organiser, said the objective of the meeting was to facilitate an exchange of information and to fulfil other objectives of the IASST, and that the meetings are held regularly at locations around the world.

Montes said the international meetings are held to conduct the business affairs of the association. Standing items on the agenda of international meetings include review, approval and matters arising from minutes of previous meetings; future meetings membership matters and a round table of membership issues, however, she said the meetings’ agendas were not necessarily limited to the aforementioned matters. Montes added that a one-day safety seminar is held in conjunction with any international meeting. A safety seminar features a mix of international and local presenters.

Reflecting on this year's event, Montes said the event was very successful as “we were only asked in July to host due to the assigned host could no longer accommodate the meeting and seminar”. “[I was] impressed with the quality of speakers who were available at short notice. I am honoured that we, as CPUT, were asked to host. The IASST has not met in South Africa before, and this was the first CPUT was hosting since the inception of IASST in the 1980s.”

Yann Chauty from CEPS said the main topic, Simulation in safety, training was very interesting and successful. Chauty added that there was a need to invest sufficiently in the quality of the training equipment of the schools,  including davits, lifeboats, etc, which “are very obsolete”.

Cormac Mac Sweeney from Munster Technological University said the event accelerated the update on current thinking and possibilities regarding the use of simulation in safety training. Sweeney said a lot can be achieved in online meetings and there is no doubt there is a cost involved in in-person meetings.

“In person [meetings] gives you the opportunity of not only having longer discussions on the topic but also the ability to discuss other topics of mutual interest, expanding on similar methodologies, discussing new ideas and perhaps creating new links,” partnerships etc,” he continued.

“Overall, the ability, without time restraint, to discuss areas of mutual interest to improve our ability to pass the most up-to-date knowledge onto our students/clients.”

Leon Morton from Sea Safety Training Group, said: “I would say in terms of simulation the last presenter with the gaming mode was something interesting, however, not all age groups would be able to do that as the gaming consoles take time to get used to… My favourite was the fish platform, showing how everyone locally and internationally, doesn’t consider the figures of the fishing industry. Our fishing industry needs to be included and not just be on the side as a mention.”

“We are from Canada, and it was nice to see that South Africa was developing a safety culture when it comes to survival at sea.  And yes, the people were extremely nice and helpful,” said Paul Douglas from Survival Systems. 

The IASST also handed over a charitable donation of 500 British Pounds to the National Sea Rescue Institute- NSRI Station 29 - Airborne Sea Rescue.

Tuesday, 08 November 2022

Health Actions for Women

Dedicated on their mission to inform and empower women to take responsibility for their health, understand their health options, Student Affairs Division (DSA) in partnership with the Mina Foundation, ran a Women's Health Awareness drive, creating ‘Menstrual Cup awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness and HIV Health Screening’.

The campaign was held recently at Bellville campus, and the DSA distributed over 100 Mina Cups (a feminine hygiene product that is inserted during menstruation period to those interested after listening to the information session. Melani-Ann Hara, Student Development Officer, said the Mina menstrual cups were donated by the Gift of the Givers through an initiative led by Ayesha Reiners from the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment. Hara said they have a group of students who have been trained by the Mina Foundation to conduct awareness campaigns across campus and students can collect a Mina cup from the campus clinics.

She said the Mina menstrual cups are an alternative option for females, who would like to consider the environment, who are struggling with the costs of sanitary pads/tampons each month and those looking for alternatives due to health reasons. A Mina Cup can be used for up to five years, saving one’s money and being environmentally friendly.

She said over 1000 females will benefit from this initiative and “we are hoping to continue the partnership with Mina Foundation and Gift of the Givers who have sponsored the Mina cups to CPUT”. “[We aim] to provide alternatives to students, as well as ensuring no female student misses out on her education due to menstruation.”

“We are also thankful to all those who attended and especially to those student volunteers who made the initiative a success,” said Hara.

DSA also leads awareness about breast cancer screening and provide information about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI's) as well as prevention measures. Hara and her team provided information about possible symptoms of breast cancer and also advised on how to do monthly self-breast examinations.

To those students or staff members who are interested in using the Mina cup, please educate yourself by getting more information online https://minacup.com and speak to the nurses at the Campus Health Clinics where you can assess them for free (while stocks last).

The Department of Nursing Science recently participated in a community engagement event at the Bishop Lavis Community Health Centre.

The aim was to facilitate staff development and to identify the needs of the community – an initiative driven by the Head of Department, Prof Karien Jooste, for the past six years.

“To assist in the patients’ nutritional needs, the staff members provided sandwiches and tea to the patients in the waiting area. This allowed the patients to have breakfast and safely consume their chronic medication, as many of the patients wake up early to attend the clinic and do not have time to eat.,” said Bridgette Lockett, Programme Coordinator for Primary Care Nursing.

Health education was provided by the lecturers and clinical mentors throughout the four areas of the clinic, as identified by the Facility Manager, Sr Rachel Carelse.

“Hypertension and Diabetes Mellitus are two of the chronic disorders identified within this community. The health education specifically focused on Diabetes Mellitus. The patients were educated on how to monitor their blood glucose levels, how to take their prescribed medication and the importance of maintaining their health and wellbeing,” added clinical coordinator, Ursula Mafaro.

Carelse also discussed the initiatives in place to support the community in maintaining their health, e.g. community walks in the morning and healthcare workers delivering chronic medication to patients, thus ensuring their compliance.

The Bishop Lavis Community Health Centre has worked alongside the Department of Nursing Science in accommodating students for their placements during work-integrated learning. This includes both the undergraduate as well as the postgraduate programme, providing services to the community.

Thursday, 03 November 2022

Eye Care Awareness Month commemorated

The Department of Ophthalmic Sciences marked Eye Care Awareness Month with a range of community engagement activities to promote eye health and vision care awareness.

Eye Care Awareness Month is commemorated from 21 September to 18 October to raise awareness about the importance of eye health, specifically around the prevention of and treatment of avoidable blindness.

Junior lecturer Sanele Buthelezi said the activities included a multidisciplinary medical intervention in Touws River, organised by the Gift of The Givers Foundation.

A group of second-year students and four staff members: Angelique Walbrugh (Head of Department), Zukile Sirayi, Noluthando Mjwana and Fatima Flander, conducted vision screenings on more than 300 patients, dispensing more than 80 pairs of spectacles to this underserved community.

The other activities included:

  • On the 22 October the Bishop Lavis Service-Learning Project was successfully rolled out. A team of second-year students and staff members Nomfundo Mkhombe, Shaun Ketile, Noluthando Mjwana and Zukile Sirayi provided eye care services to a number of patients.
  • The South African Optometric Association (SAOA) educational campaign in collaboration with the Department of Transport, which included 15 students working with the SAOA team at bus depots and traffic departments.
  • A week-long Northern Cape multidisciplinary outreach organised by Dr Errol Visser of Global First Responders. The department sent staff member Sanele Buthelezi to conduct eye examinations and provide spectacles and ocular therapeutic care to several rural communities in the Northern Cape.
Wednesday, 02 November 2022

Fundani CHED launches STEM Club

The Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) recently launched the Institution’s Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) Club at the Bellville campus.

Mathematics Support Lead and STEM Coordinator, Dr Frikkie George, said the purpose of the establishment of the STEM Club was to contribute to the two dimensions of CPUT’s V2030 – Oneness: creating a community of STEM students with Ubuntu principles, and Smartness: advancing the conceptions of technology.

STEM Club Chairperson Sarah Tshabangu said the purpose of the club was to magnify the Maths and science experiences of the students and to support them by bringing together all the STEM students and providing them with learning spaces such as boot camps.

Her deputy, Mano Tshebeletso, said their aim was to improve the quality of education through involvement in learning spaces, research projects, as well as competitions. “And also [to] invite fields professionals that are STEM related for discussions to promote general awareness and encourage networking. Furthermore, we shall interact, engage, and cooperate with other student support structures at CPUT,” Mano remarked. Fundani CHED University Capacity Development Grant Project Team member, David Haarhoff, said the student support for student success is the key focus of the Fundani CHED at CPUT. Haarhoff said the Student Learning Unit (SLU) located in Fundani CHED houses the STEM Sector, providing Mathematics and Science support for students in different departments at CPUT. The Fundani CHED STEM Club was established in April 2022 to assist with STEM support and to meet one of the imperatives of the UCDG STEM Research Project at CPUT.  “The vision and mission of the STEM Club is to build an inclusive STEM student community, fostering affinity for STEM disciplines, and lowering the STEM attrition rate – especially among students from disadvantaged background,” he said.

George said the launch signals the creation of a safe, fun and brave space for students to express themselves and improve the development of their critical thinking skills of the science and maths concepts they learn in lectures.

The launch included beautiful renditions by the CPUT choir, scientific demonstrations by the students, input from academics from University of the Western Cape, CPUT as well as the Cape Town Science Centre.

“I’m ecstatic with the positive feedback and happy that the day was successful. In terms of our broader goal, this has been a stepping stone in respect of dispelling the notion or stigma attached to STEM subjects. All external partners and internal partners are on board in helping us achieve our goal,” enthused Haarhoff.

Speaking at the event, Fundani CHED Director, Dr Xena Cupido, highlighted the importance of working towards CPUT’s Vision 2030 and STEM pedagogies supporting student success. Cupido’s address also focused on the following topics:

  • Move away from student deficit approach
  • Toward dialogic approach which engages students and academics in the stem sector
  • Processes of co-creating curriculum can be seen as a way of promoting democratic values in higher education
  • Drawing upon a democratic approach
  • Emphasise that learning is closely connected to the participation, subjectification, and negotiation of meanings.
  • Focus on the transference of power, authority and voice to the students in a decolonising university space - working in partnership.

“Student needs access to high-quality STEM learning experiences that affirm their identities as important members of the STEM community who are working to make the world a better place,” said Cupido.

George said the STEM Club will play a very important role in the eventual establishment of STEM Centres at the various campuses of CPUT.  He added that the launch will make the CPUT community aware of the existence of the STEM Club and the opportunity to establish partnerships and networks with external partners.

Haarhoff added that they managed to forge partnerships with stakeholders who committed to “ensuring that they are on board in terms of supporting us to ensure that our goal is achieved”. “This has opened many doors for the STEM Club, and we look forward to working together.”