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In a  bid to curb the dropout rate at university the Language and Student Learning  Units at Fundani have penned a multilingual smart writing guide to assist students with academic writing.

“This project is part of decolonising the curriculum as the students recommended during the #Feesmustfall campaign. [And] It can also reduce the dropout during first- year as language is one of the barriers in higher education,” said Dr Vuyo Mntuyedwa, a lecturer in the Student Learning Unit. 

 Mntuyedwa added that the booklet, which makes use of English with IsiXhosa and Afrikaans translations, was put together to” accommodate” online teaching.

She submitted that one of the reasons that motivated her to initiate such a project was that first-year  students struggle a lot when it comes to academic writing and that she did not want her students to experience what she did during her time as a student. “For example, I was not aware during my undergrad [studies] that Bloom’s taxonomy verbs are synonyms, either the lecturer will use one or the other. Secondly, since I know as a lecturer [that] some of the first-years are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and it’s not easy [for them] to use English as a medium of instruction,  the multilingual booklet will give them a clue of when to use such basic words. Also, I have realised as a researcher [that] punctuation contributes a lot to someone’s references list and that transition words make the work coherent.”

 The online booklet can be shared or downloaded by any student. Mntuyedwa suggested that other institutions can learn from the CPUT’s multilingual smart guide. 

“We called the projectsmart in consideration of vision 2030 which talks about one Smart CPUT,”she added.  “I hope the class of 2022 will gain a lot from the project and we, as a team, are looking forward to produce more for our students.”

The guide is subdivided into the following sections: Bloom’s taxonomy, verbs to introduce quotations or paraphrases, punctuation basics and transition/introduction.

“This is a great contribution to the intellectualisation of indigenous languages and normalising the use of these languages in a space (higher education) that is perceived monolingual,” said Nomxolisi Jantjies, a Language language specialist in isiXhosa who was part of the project.

A Complicated pregnancy and a son who was born prematurely at 30 weeks, weighing only 739g, couldn’t deter CPUT alumna Christynn Jacobs’ plan to become the first black female jam manufacturer in South Africa and building a legacy for “our children and the generations to come”.

The Hermanus-born businesswoman grew up in a beautiful, small fishing village called Hawston, where she attended the local primary school. She matriculated at Hermanus High School in 2003. In 2004 Jacobs enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Science at Stellenbosch University but she dropped out as “I was still unsure of what career path I wanted to follow”. She took a gap year before deciding to pursue a career in food, so she enrolled at CPUT in 2006, where she  completed her BTech in Food Technology in 2009.

After her studies, Jacobs worked very hard at building a successful career.  “I worked in the food industry for about 10 years. I focussed on gaining as much experience to ultimately work for myself, which meant making sacrifices, working hard, long and after hours. I managed to build a very comfortable life for myself and decided to risk it all to start my own business.”

Her humble beginnings in Hawston, which is a very close-knit community, and where people look out for each other has nurtured Jacobs to “stay humble and always remember where I come from”.

 “I was very fortunate to grow up in a large, loving family, that was always supportive.  I learned a lot from them.  People are very dear to my heart and that’s why it’s important for me to give back to my community,” she enthuses.

The hardworking, tenacious 35-year-old entrepreneur who sets very high standards for herself and others and her husband, Nigel, who is also her business partner, registered their Jacobs Jam Company in 2019.  Shortly after, the couple learned that they were expecting their firstborn child. During this time, they were busy setting up the business which included writing the business plan, sourcing finance, developing products, sourcing, and designing the equipment and processes, etc. “I had a complicated pregnancy and our son was born prematurely at 30 weeks, weighing only 739 grams. He was in the Intensive Care Unit for 72 days. This meant the family room at the hospital became our office and boardroom. It was a very challenging time, but we managed to push through and make it work.”

Their “very first commercial production run was on 6 November 2020 and almost exactly a year later, on the 26th of November 2021, we obtained the titles of Entrepreneurs of the Year 2021; Best Emerging Business and Best Overall Business at the Western Cape Entrepreneurial Awards. This was an extremely proud moment”.

“Starting this business has given me independence and the creative freedom to apply my skills and knowledge to make my own decisions that is crucial to the success of the business. I get to work in the field that is really my passion. But most importantly, what I wanted to achieve was to be more flexible and spend more time with my family. By starting this business I’ve achieved that and there’s nothing more rewarding,” Jacobs continues.

“It is important to work hard in order to make a comfortable living, but it’s pointless working yourself to death and not enjoy the fruits of your labour along the way.” 

Up until now their business focus has been on manufacturing jam and mainly for the Western Cape, however they would like to grow the business, expand into other regions, and increase their product lines.  “I’m currently working on the development of other products, such as juices, sauces as well as bompies (ice lollies), which will launch later this year. The fundamentals, mentorship, and support that I not only received from the university, but also my partner Nigel, who is also an alumnus of CPUT, is pivotal.  It enabled us to start a business from scratch and make it the success it is today.”

She attributes her success to hard work, perseverance and sacrifice. “For me it’s important to build a solid foundation for my children and give them the opportunities that I didn’t necessarily have growing up.

“The next mega food group must still be born, and we’re determined to be it.”  The couple has worked for big companies and climbed the corporate ladder all the way to the top. “I, being a food technologist and his background as a fast-moving consumer goods marketer is a rare find. It just made sense to combine our expertise and knowledge of the industry to start our own business within the food industry.”

Reflecting on juggling between work and family, Jacobs says: “We’re always jamming at Jacobs household. When I am not at work, I spend quality time with my family, whether it’s doing activities at home or going out and enjoying what our beautiful region has to offer.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

New short course to launch next month

A new short course which is focused on Point of Care Testing (POCT) will be offered by the Department of Biomedical Sciences from next month.

The practical based course, believed to be the first of its kind in Africa, was designed at CPUT and will ensure that POCT operators have the necessary background and the practical skills to produce a result that is reliable and observes all international standards.

POCT refers to testing carried out where the patient is or near the patient and the results are available within a very short time. POC tests can be done for Covid-19, diabetes, anaemia and several other conditions.

The course will be taught by the Department’s Terry van Jaarsveld, who has many years of experience in operating POCT services in the Middle East and South Africa, and Stellenbosch University’s Prof Rajiv Erasmus, who has been part of international committees to oversee the quality of Point of Care Testing

“As simple as it may be, health providers have to ensure that the results are reliable, accurate and compare well with results obtained from an accredited medical laboratory. This means that all processes involved must be carefully planned and operators need to be trained and certified and proven to be capable of carrying out this testing,” they said.

 In South Africa Point of Care Testing is being carried out in clinics, emergency departments, pharmacies, ambulances, wards and out-patient departments.

“Implementation of a high standard of quality POCT service must be well-planned and comprise of systematic processes, commencing with simple, but quality sample collection at the testing site, easy-to-use testing formats, and straight-forward interpretation of results.”

The Business Innovation and Incubation Centre has been awarded £100,000 by the British Council to implement a sustainable inclusive industry-linked business innovation and incubation technopreneurship infrastructure to develop graduates to be venture creators and/or become employable in a rapidly changing global environment.

The British Council of South Africa recently hosted a welcome reception and networking event for its sponsored Innovation for Africa Universities’ (IAU) projects for the South Africa IAU network partners at in Johannesburg. The Centre for Business Innovation and Incubation (BIIC) in the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences is one of the nine South African IAU network partners that were invited to the event.

The event was opened by the British High Commissioner to South Africa, H.E. Antony Phillipson. The event was attended by the Project Leader and founder of BIIC, Rev Dr Michael Twum-Darko, and the newly-appointed Manager of CPUT’s Strategic Initiatives and Partnership (SIP) Directorate, Dr Tasmeera Singh.

A short presentation of the CPUT project was given. The event was also an opportunity for British and Commonwealth Alumni to connect with fellow IAU network partners in South Africa and to learn more about the British Council-sponsored projects. The CPUT project partners are Manchester Metropolitan University as the UK University partner and Cape Town-based Snake Nation as the ecosystem partner.

“The underlying principle of the project is that not all those who have good business ideas are good entrepreneurs and not all excellent entrepreneurs have good business ideas,” says Darko. “ However, the simulator helps everyone on it to refine the business idea to the point of producing a sustainable business model and plan that will draw in venture capital to incubate to become the ‘Next Big Thing’ to create new jobs or improve existing ones to create employment opportunities.” He adds that although not all the 100 (BIIC} students may come up with sustainable business models and plans that will withstand the disruptive nature of economies, they will become entrepreneurs who are highly sought after by companies. “The success of the project will be replicated across African universities, south of the Sahara,” intimates Darko.

An inspiring group of dedicated CPUT staff members has played a crucial role to help ensure the health and safety of the university community during the pandemic. More than 15 000 vaccinations have been administered at the CPUT Vaccination Centre, and our vaccinators have been right at the frontline.

This month we share some of their stories:

Nursing lecturer, Natalie Copeling chose the profession to make a difference in the lives of others and this passion shines through at the Vaccination Centre where she serves the CPUT community.

Copeling has worked at CPUT for 14 years and has been involved with the centre since its inception.

“As an existing member of the CPUT health cluster, I was invited to join a sub-committee of the health cluster and was involved in the conceptualisation and planning of the vaccination centre from the outset,” she said.

Copeling assisted with the coordination of the training for the Department of Nursing Science staff as COVID-19 vaccinators as well as with compiling of a placement schedule for the staff at the centre and floor management of the centre.           

“In a time of uncertainty and turmoil I had certain skills that could be of use and it was a privilege to be able to assist during this time.”

She said nursing is a profession that allows you to be grateful for what you have and provides daily reminders of this when you hear the stories and challenges of others.

“The placement in the centre was a return to practice and engagement with many diverse individuals.”

Copeling thanked Prof Karien Jooste “for her support as my HoD as without that I would not have been able to be as involved as what I was.”

“Also, thanks to my colleagues from the department who worked on a rotational basis at the centre.”

Last year Copeling received two awards from the South African Society of Occupational Health Nursing Practitioners (SASOHN). 
The first, the Ian Webster gold medal, was for her Master’s degree, which was attained in 2019, and is given to all who complete a Master’s or PHD with an occupational health nursing focus by the society. She also received EXCO rep of the year award which is given to the candidate selected by the president of the society annually.
Copeling is married with two daughters who she says has a passion for all things equestrian.  
“My spare time is spent mostly outdoors with my two daughters and horses.”

Thursday, 10 February 2022

CPUT to host SA/Japan project

The Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment is part of a SA/Japan project, valued at R60 million, which include the cost of Analytical Equipment and a Pilot plant – all  of which will be installed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at CPUT’s Department of Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering Professor, Tunde Ojumu will be the leader of this project. Due to Ojumu’s involvement in Fly Ash Beneficiation research, CPUT was awarded the opportunity to host one of the 2020 Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) projects titled: Development of a carbon recycling system towards a decarbonised society by using mineral carbonation.

SATREPS is a Japanese initiative that is implemented by JICA and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). Its mandate through international cooperation and partnership are to:

  • Promote Science, Technology and Innovation
  • Address global issues and advance Science, and
  • Develop capacity.

The South Africa consortium that is involved in this project are: CPUT, University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, Council for Geosciences and industrial partners, PPC Cement, ReMacon, CDEL and Cement and Concrete SA. “The long term value of this opportunity was immediately recognised by our Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment, Prof Marshall Sheldon and the DVC, Dr David Phaho, who provided unflinching support, guidance and resources for CPUT to engage with the partners on such a high-level project,” Ojumu enthused.

“It’s usually a good feeling to know that your colleagues, and in this case senior colleagues believe in your research activities and leadership over the years. All the SA researchers involved in this project unanimously agreed that I should lead the project.”

In a nutshell, the project aims to reduce process-related CO2 emissions from the cement and concrete industries. Ojumu said: “Our strategy for achieving this is through the development of carbon recycling systems, including resource recycling loops. These include carbon/material recycling systems using a proposed mineral carbon capture and utilisation (MCC&U) technology in the concrete and cement industries in South Africa. On this basis, we can make strides towards the achievement of a circular economy based on a decarbonised society.”

The project is the result of a partnership between South Africa and the Japanese government. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is funding the running cost of this project. Reflecting on the yields of this project, Ojumu said: “The benefits of a cleaner environment accrue to the whole South African society. But, more specifically, the concrete and cement industries through an improved image with regards to the impact of their technology on the environment. It would be of tremendous benefit for our country as well because our demolished concrete waste can be also be repurposed for carbonated products, and our CO2 emission minimised.”

Ojumu added that the acquisition of this state-of-the-art analytical equipment will boost the research capacity, “not only in Chemical Engineering Department but the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, as well as Faculty of Applied Sciences”. He said the project will also contribute  to the development of human capacities in the form of staff training and postgraduate students in Carbon capture/sequestration and materials development, which are important areas of Environmental Science and Engineering- a specialisation of Chemical Engineering. “This project will provide opportunity for training our students at Master’s and Doctoral level, thereby building human capacity for our Country.”

The South African researchers that put the proposal together are: Prof Ojumu, Jochen Petersen, Leslie Petrik, Dr Ravi Vadapalli and Dr Henk Coetzee, however, Ojumu took a leading role in putting the proposal together and he submitted it through to the DSI.

Written by Aphiwe Boyce

An Architectural Technology alumna is shining bright in Belgium where she has received a prize for her Master’s thesis.

Chioma Obasi was recently announced as the winner in the international student category of the Thesis Award 2021 from Hasselt University (UHasselt).

She said the prize is awarded to the best development-relevant Master’s thesis.

Her thesis is titled: Activating Landscapes Through Memory: A Journey Through Fragments of Cape Town’s Strand StreeQuarries. Obasi said she had not expected to win the prize.

“But afterward, I felt very happy and honoured because it was very humbling to receive recognition for all the hard work put into my research. My thesis lightly touches on a sensitive area in South African history, so I was really happy to share the topic internationally and for it to also be recognised and appreciated.”

Obasi first went to UHasselt as a CPUT exchange student and in 2020 was awarded a Master Mind scholarship to study towards a one-year International Master in Interior Architecture (Adaptive Re-use) at UHasselt.

She said her time at CPUT laid a firm foundation for her postgraduate studies.

When I first started studying architecture, I don’t really think I fully understood what it meant or what it entailed. However, the lecturers at CPUT were amazing and quite patient with the students, taking their time and explaining theories and concepts to us. And I believe that this laid an excellent foundation for me. Unlike most traditional universities, CPUT focuses on both design and technology (with more emphasis on technology), which creates a good balance when designing in architecture,” she said.

“Though my Master’s was mostly design-based, I could make calculated and informed decisions with my background in technology. Also, the teaching method of working in groups and asking my fellow students for advice on my work created an atmosphere that prepared me to work cohesively with the people I met while abroad.”

She has now set her sights on enhancing her skills and preparing for a professional career.

“I might be looking into a doctorate to do some research that contributes to developmental and social architecture issues. However, I would also like to find a firm where I will learn and contribute especially towards developmental projects. I feel like many students come up with many ideas or have many ideas to give, yet it only stays on paper, and we don’t always get the opportunity to execute them. But I would really like to bring my ideas to reality.”

Obasi, who was born in Nigeria and moved to South Africa at the age of five, said life in Belgium over the past few years has been bitter-sweet.

“With the pandemic on the one hand and missing home on the other, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to learn to adjust to a new way of life, studying, living, etc. However, I have learned so much and grown a lot as a person, both personally and professionally. I have had the opportunity to experience new cultures and meet diverse groups of people, so the journey has been quite interesting.”