Tuesday, 14 November 2023

Quest for Success

The Department of Business and Information Administration (BIA) recently hosted industry partners and community organisations during an exciting networking event at the Cape Town Hotel School.

The event presented an opportunity for engagement as well as for valuable contributions by industry and community organisations.

Guests were welcomed by the programme director for the day and senior lecturer in the Department, Mandie Richards, who introduced the keynote speaker, Prof Paul Green, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences.

The keynote address was titled: Connecting for the Future, on a Quest for Success within the South African context.

Green told the partners that their input was extremely important, adding that their valued contributions, including to the content of the curriculum “remains continuously relevant to us”.

“The social impact of this partnership will have far-reaching benefits, not only for our graduates but also for communities as well as the economy.”

Green said the BIA Department engages in various innovative practices, which respond to the needs of society and enhances the students’ analytical skills.

He said that in this ever-changing world it was essential to stay ahead and prepare students for success.

“As a faculty we are also aware that to remain relevant and to be in touch with industry, we need to continuously review our curriculum. “

He thanked the partners and the organisers for the engagement.

Charlton Brandt an alumnus who now works as Business Specialist: Data Management and Analysis at Old Mutual Limited, delivered a talk on the value of a vision.

The day also included an overview of the department as well its work integrated learning, community engagement and service-learning components. This was followed by a panel discussion, titled Reflections for Success, which touched on several topics including job readiness and the future of work.

The discussion was facilitated by Alesimo Mwanga, Executive Director, PAWA Africa, and chair of the BIA Advisory Committee and the panellists were: Yolande Jacobs, Human Resources Executive Director, World Wildlife Fund; Carla Stewart, Marketing Manager; Leliebloem House: Youth and Child Care Centre; Zikhona Madubela, Founder, In2ChangeLearning; Beverley Dankers, Deputy Dean, Student Development and Support, Cornerstone Institute and Celiwe Mabaleka, Registrar, Western Cape Government, College of Emergency Care.

Head of Department, Prof Visvanathan Naicker, thanked the speakers and panellists for their valuable contribution to the event and everyone who attended for making the symposium a success.

‘I’m confident that the takeaways from the symposium will further deepen our thinking and stimulate the department’s work in future.

Senior maritime instructor and manager at Survival Centre, Samantha Montes is the first female and person from the African continent to be appointed as the chairperson of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST).

Montes has served on several committees within the South African Maritime context. Having managed the CPUT Erasmus+ Project (EURO-ZA Capacity Building in the field of Maritime Education), she is “up for a new challenge”. She has been in this field (maritime) for more than 20 years, and she never thought she would be the first in anything in her career, “from the IASST being a mere certificate on the walls which I pass every day at work, to now heading up this association is quite a personal achievement”.

“I am affectionally known as the Maritime Oracle in my industry. I achieved this by asking a lot of questions. Asking the right kind of questions is the key. Resilience is the factor to getting to this point in my career. I am not afraid of failure. ‘The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson.” As a female, Montes hopes to see more women in similar posts within their organisations and to highlight that safety has no gender discrimination. As an African, it was so refreshing for her to engage with members and “receive such support”. “The partners share information without prejudice. In South Africa, we speak about Ubuntu. It is often described as reminding us that 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. What we can learn from our partners in other countries is collectively seeking a common goal, although locally we call for collaboration, do we practice this?

“In local forums we can identify challenges, but do we work collectively to solve these? I hope to bring my knowledge of how other countries (training providers) have worked to mitigate their challenges to our shores.”

Reflecting on her new journey, as an incoming new chairperson of the IASST, Montes added “Excited, nervous, a mix of emotions. However, the support I have received from the maritime industry has been almost overwhelming. I never realised how many cheerleaders I have.” The IASST which was founded in 1980 and its commitment is to promote effective maritime safety and survival training. It also encourages the interchange of ideas and information to improve the quality of training internationally. The association also encourages instructor exchanges and contribute to the development and improvement of safety and survival technology. It also forges and maintain links with government, industry, national and international organisations and provides consultative and advisory services in safety and survival training.

Her mandate as chair is to promote the association internationally, being spokesperson for IASST and establish working groups to carry out specific tasks. Despite her impressive career, Montes still don’t consider herself successful in her career, “as there is still so much work to be done in the maritime industry to ensure it is a safe working environment”. The people I know inspire me every day through their passion. I believe we can inspire each other through our actions.” Her aspiration is to teach others that failing does not define “who you are”.

“What defines you is how you act after failure.”

During the pandemic, the lines between work and home life became blurred for her. “I made a conscious decision to set clear boundaries to protect my peace and my mental wellbeing. Spending time with my loved ones is something that cannot be bought or replaced.”

Montes says planning ensures that she keeps on top of her busy work schedule. “I have separate notebooks/share drives for each of my portfolios to ensure I adhere to my constitutional duties of each of these posts.”

The Faculty of Business and Management Sciences recently hosted a guest lecture by Swedish academic and researcher, Prof Jens Hultman, titled “Building Sustainable Retail in a Technology-driven environment.”

Hultman is a Professor of Marketing at Kristianstad University, Sweden, with over 20 years of experience in research and teaching in retailing and marketing. He is part of the leadership team of the research platform called FOHRK (Food, Health, and Retail at Kristianstad University) and is also involved in various research projects on food retail marketing and format development in the retail sector.

Guests were welcomed by Prof Victor Virimai Mugobo, the Head of the Department of Retail Business Management, who said the guest lecture will be part of an annual guest lecture series and the “first guest lecture that we are going to have with Kristianstad University”. During the guest lecture, Hultman pointed out that sustainability is a tricky topic in retail, adding that there is an array of interpretations of what sustainability really means and what practices are necessary to strive towards sustainability.

Hultman noted the managerial orientation of sustainability over the years has gone from “why should we care, to how can we manage sustainability in the best way?”

He added that the competitiveness of a retailer is heavily associated with sourcing. “Where they buy, what they buy, how they buy will of course influence their sustainability. Retailers also have a major influence on the decisions consumers make. “If they can influence what and how we consume they also have an ability to function as a transformative power in our society, for example nudge consumers to buy less of something or more of something else.”

Hultman explained that new technology and digitalisation have created the need for multichannel capacity in retail. Digitalisation has also created a situation where the physical store is not a necessary component in retail anymore. “Pretty much every one of us is carrying around a mobile telephone. In the new shopping environment, the way that we shop, is hugely different now compared to 15 years ago.”

The day concluded with a question-and-answer session. In addition to the guest lecture, Hultman also presented a workshop for postgraduate students and staff titled “Navigating Postgraduate Research.”

CPUT celebrated the recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Achievers Awards during a recent ceremony held at the Bellville Campus.

The purpose of the awards is to provide financial support to CPUT students on their journey to completing their Master’s or Doctoral studies. It is aimed at student who have achieved excellent results throughout their academic studies and who show a potential to contribute to society.

The 2023 recipients each received a certificate during the ceremony and were given the opportunity to present their research topics. Graduates of the programme were also given an opportunity to share their stories.

They 2023 recipients are:

Oritonda Muribwathoho (Doctor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering) - Research title: Development of metal matrix composites suitable for hulls and ship decks

Murendeni Nethengwe (Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences) - Research title: Evaluation of antioxidant potential and mechanism of action of phenolic compounds from South African indigenous plants used in the management of diabetes-related male infertility

Shaun Mgoma (Doctor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering) - Research title: Recovery of valuable compounds from agricultural food using green technologies: Process design and Techno-economic analysis

Bongisiwe Zozo (Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry) - Research title: Purification and characterisation of the native black soldier fly larva Protein

Mzoxolo Ntabeni (Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering) - Research title: The influence of academic and industry-specific project management qualifications on the effectiveness of project managers in the construction industry

Nontle Mbana (Doctor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering) - Research title: Development of an optimal fabrication procedure for producing aluminium based surface composites

Sindisiwe Ntsondwa (Doctor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering) - Research title: Development of catalysts for enhancement of H2 sorption kinetics for intermetallic hydride storage application

Mfundo Radebe (Master of PR & Communication Management) - Research title - An Assessment of the integration of social media in news production in selected community radio stations in Gqeberha

The awardees all thanked the donors and the committee for the investment in their education.

Murendeni said not only had the award helped her to focus on her studies without worrying about finances but it has also boosted her confidence.  

She said she would continue to strive to make a difference in her community.

Prof Joseph Kioko, chairperson of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Achievers Awards Committee, said that since the programme started in 2018, a total of 21 students have been awarded and of these, 13 have completed their degrees, with 10 having graduated.

He thanked the programme’s donor, the Mauerberger Foundation Fund, under the leadership of Adv. Dianna Yach.

“The impact of the Foundation’s generosity and support for our students will ripple across many generations in many communities.”

Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo said the awards are bestowed annually to deserving students who have shown academic excellence and an embodiment of the CPUT graduate attributes.

“This afternoon, we are celebrating people who think they can, we are celebrating people who have demonstrated the power of choice.”

Yach said the awardees had already shown that nothing would deter them from reaching their dreams.

“I want to congratulate you all on your outstanding academic achievement. But I also want to stress.. it’s not so much the theories and the ideas that we gather through reading and knowledge seeking, it’s the human factor that makes the difference.”

Wednesday, 08 November 2023

Academics shine at SMLTSA congress

Academics from the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences bagged two prizes – including best overall presentation – at the recent Society of Medical Laboratory Technology of South Africa (SMLTSA) Congress.

Nkosikho Sogwagwa, lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Faculty’s Extended Curriculum Programme co-ordinator, won the prize for the best overall presentation while senior lecturer, Dr Yvonne Prince, won the prize for the best presentation in Microbiology.

Sogwagwa said it was “truly an honour to have our work recognised by our professional peers”.

“Winning the best overall presentation at such a prestigious congress is a testament to the importance of understanding and adapting to the evolving landscape of education. It's a shared success, reflecting the dedication and collaboration of our team.”

The title of the presentation was 'Student perceptions of online assessments: An interdisciplinary study in undergraduate medical laboratory sciences and food science and technology.'

“It was a collaborative effort between myself from the Biomedical Sciences department in the Health and Wellness Faculty and Dr Vusi Mshayisa from the Food Science and Technology department of the Applied Sciences Faculty. We aimed to explore students' views on online assessment in both departments, shedding light on the intersection of technology and education.”

Prince said winning the Best Microbiology Presentation prize had been “an exceptional and humbling experience”.

Her presentation was titled: The link between the oral microbiota and metabolic syndrome.

“This achievement not only acknowledges my hard work and dedication but also reinforces my passion for microbiology and underscores the importance of effective scientific communication.

“This recognition significantly influences my future pursuits in the field of microbiology. It provides a surge of confidence and serves as a tangible testament to my success, undoubtedly opening doors to new opportunities. It bolsters my determination to make meaningful contributions to the field, knowing that my efforts are valued and acknowledged.

She said she would hold this accolade dearly throughout her career.

“I am brimming with gratitude for this acknowledgment and remain eager to continue pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the directors and staff at the SAMRC/CPUT Cardiometabolic Health Research Unit for their unwavering support in shaping me into the best scientist I can be. Additionally, I express my gratitude to the SMLTSA for their sponsorship of this prestigious award.”

The theme of the congress was: Next generation laboratory, a partnership in health.

The Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Units, Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning, in collaboration with the Faculty of Education, hosted seven students from HAN University of Applied Sciences from the Netherlands.

Twice a year HAN students travel to CPUT and collaborate with various departments under the banner of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement. The HAN student student or students currently forms part of the Theewaterskloof Programme with a particular focus on various community engagement projects. Organisations such as Home Based Care, South African Red Cross Society, schools, Theewaterskloof Municipality, museum and Mind over Matter within Theewaterskloof district, benefit from the students’ hard work and dedication. HAN students reside in the rural towns of Grabouw and Caledon for the duration of the project.

An orientation weekend funded by HAN university was held in August. Seven CPUT students from the faculties of Health and Wellness Sciences, Business and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering and the Built Environment and Informatics and Design were afforded the opportunity to engage with the HAN students at the orientation. “Our first activity was to collaborate and do Intercultural consciousness and cross-cultural communication. We shared info about the various cultures in South Africa and the HAN students shared information about the Dutch culture. There were discussions and debates involved because we had to gather information about the Dutch culture, and they had to do the same with the South African culture. After the collaboration we had to do some outdoor activities as a competition in mixed groups of CPUT and HAN students,” said Nursing Science student, Yandisa Maqetuka.

Extramural activities included a hike which allowed students to engage across international cultures in a more informal setting. Yandisa said: “I had a great experience in the HAN project, and I am grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.” HAN Global mobility has become increasingly imperative for student self-development, intercultural integration and development of international leaders. CPUT students were grateful for the opportunity to engage with the HAN students.

At the CPUT intercultural and international engagement session at the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre, CPUT afforded the HAN students a space to showcase their respective community projects. The passion exuded during the presentations displayed a sense of commitment and seriousness in respect of global citizenship. During the presentations HAN students provided a detailed report of their respective projects, expressed their challenges, opportunities and possible solutions to various issues experienced within communities.

According to Jacqui Scheepers, Manager: Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, “Internationalisation can be achieved through collaborative community engagement activities with students and staff from various international partner universities. This project serves as an opportunity to achieve our institutional goals as per our Vision 2030 for Focus areas: 5: SMART Internationalisation; 6: SMART Engagement and strong links with quintuple helix partners; and 7: SMART Student Engagement and Learning Experience.”

David Haarhoff, Project lead for Civic Engagement alluded to the importance of student involvement in such critical engagements. “Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, often makes reference to CPUT becoming Africa’s MIT. This would require a different level of thinking, continued international exposure not only for academics, but for students as well. My heart is happy when our students integrate and present our university when hosting international guests. Our students really made me proud.” Scheepers said that projects like these put CPUT on a global platform and: “We will continue to explore further collaborations with international partners for community engagement”.

Tuesday, 07 November 2023

Raising awareness about breast cancer

CPUT Libraries recently hosted a series of events to raise awareness about breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign during which various health and other structures raise awareness of the disease.

Staff and students were given the opportunity to learn about the importance of early detection, treatments and care available as well as services available on the various campuses via CPUT Health Clinics.

CPUT Libraries held awareness drives at Tygerberg Campus, Mowbray Campus, Wellington Campus, Granger Bay Campus, District Six Campus and Bellville Campus.

At the Bellville Campus event, the last in the series, attendees were welcomed by Senior Library Assistant, Ncumisa Njecana, whereafter, Barennise Arries, Lecturer in the Department of Nursing Science delivered a talk titled: Cancer journey of a loved one – my support.

Georgell van Wyk, Lecturer in the Department of Medical Imaging and Therapeutic Sciences, spoke about the barriers experienced by patients during mammography screening. A group of students from the Department of Nursing Science delivered a presentation, which included information on the causes of breast cancer.

Dr Bronwyn Swartz, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, shared her personal journey with breast cancer.

“I would promote that you go and get your regular check-ups. We can’t control our circumstances, the stuff that happens around us, but we can control going for our check-ups,” Swartz said.

During the awareness drive on the other campuses there were a series of activities including presentations from speakers who are breast cancer survivors.

CPUT Libraries thanked the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, CPUT Health Clinics and all participating departments for their support.