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After having been awarded the National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering Department Senior Lecturer, Dr Velaphi Msomi, says the recognition is very important as it is an assurance of the high quality of his work and encourages him to continue doing the work.

All universities in the country make submissions of their candidates to NRF. The submissions get evaluated by experts of panellists and then the top researcher gets selected and awarded. “I feel very excited that my work could be number one against all other candidates from other universities. It was quite an honour to receive such an award and this boosts confidence in my work.”

Msomi says that this indicates that he is on the right path in terms of research growth, and it is the first time he has won this award as a member of the Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering Department. “This, therefore, means the Department is recognised outside CPUT and it is the second time for CPUT to win this award. This is a testimony that CPUT is doing quality research. This gives confidence to my students that I am supervising,” said the Meta Matrix Materials: Manufacturing and Properties Guest Editor.

His passion and love are what made him win this award and the support that he gets from work and home contribute towards his academic success. Msomi says the academic success cannot be realised without getting support from different angles. “My HOD, Mr Simphiwe Nqabisa, the Dean, Prof Suresh Ramsuroop, the Assistant Dean of Research, Prof Veruscha Fester, and my wife, Mrs Simphiwe Msomi are the people who contributed immensely to my achievements.”

On a lighter note, his department recently hosted a surprise party to celebrate with him. “I was surprised when I got to the venue, and I didn’t expect it. I felt very excited that my colleagues valued my hard work. The congratulations that I received from my colleagues were very comforting.”

The Lead Editor for MATEC Web of Conferences is now looking at continuing with what he is doing so that he can be the next NRF A-rated researcher. When he is not busy the Guest Editor: AIP Conference Proceedings, likes to watch soccer or to go to the gym before he can start his work.

“I have recently received the news from Applied Sciences congratulating my doctoral student’s paper which received the highest views since it was published. This news came right after I had received the NRF Award. This again was a confirmation that I am doing a good job.” Despite his busy academic work, Msomi has time for his family. “I do academic work during working hours and fully focus to my family after working hours.”

Msomi is currently organising an International Conference on Applied Research and Engineering (ICARAE2023) that will take place in November 2023, and this is the third series. He has several journals that will publish all the accepted and presented papers in the conference.

Phanadapreneurs, a Community Engagement Student Leadership Academy student project team, recently hosted a Community Engagement Business Bootcamp at the Cape Town Hotel School, Granger Bay.

Jacqui Scheepers, Manager: Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, said: “The bootcamp provided for engagement across multi-sectoral boundaries with the aim of stimulating enterprise development and enhanced business practices in the informal sector.”

Student entrepreneurs, startups, emerging entrepreneurs, parastatals, local provincial and national government, business support development agencies and funders all formed part of the auspicious event. The focal activities of the event included information sharing, dialogue, skills development, business success storytelling, networking, but most importantly how students can contribute and assist with economic growth within their respective communities.

“The bootcamp forms part of a broader initiative by the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Units, Centre for Community Engagement and WIL [Work Integrated Learning], where students are encouraged to be more agile in their approach and are encouraged to think of ways and means to alleviate socio-economic issues within their respective communities,” said David Haarhoff, project lead.

Haarhoff added that they strive on equal opportunity. “From a Community Engagement perspective, it is imperative for us to continuously enhance students’ capabilities by offering such projects where our students are exposed to creative thinking and offered the opportunity to grow in all spheres of life through contributing to the well-being of small business enterprises and society at large,” he said.

In his opening address, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, Prof Paul Green, encouraged students and entrepreneurs to explore, experience and most importantly, to be flexible in their thought processing when considering this critical issue of socio-economic advancement in their communities.

The keynote speaker, John Peters, Chief Director: Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, sketched the current scenario in South Africa in terms of high youth unemployment rate, low start-up rate of new business and high discontinuation rate of existing businesses. Peters further highlighted a weak entrepreneurship culture, regulatory and bureaucratic constraints, inadequate, fragmented and uncoordinated support eco-system, infrastructure, crime/extortion and other binding constraints as well as a lack of information and awareness.

Peters advised that government offers a number of financial and non-financial support to start-ups and encouraged the youth present to utilise these services. He urged students to become tech savvy, and to welcome competition, stating that it can sharpen their thinking and will allow them to be more efficient and more effective. In closing he alluded that most successful entrepreneurs never relied on handouts and/or begged government for support.

Jayde Barends, Senior Technology Transfer Officer, CPUT Technology Transfer and Industry Linkages, provided context in respect of her department and the technology transfer process from idea conceptualisation to socio-economic impact. Rushdeen Rose, Project Coordinator, Technology Station: Clothing and Textile, CPUT provided a detailed outline of services offered by the technology station as well as the various training programmes and industry initiatives the station is currently embarking on.

Phillip Chibvuri, Finance Specialist within the Residence Department at CPUT, provided context in terms of financial architecture and encouraged students to take time to know the worth of their “money”.

Director: Advancement Department, Calvin Maseko, highlighted that his department considers all three pillars of CPUT when embarking on fundraising initiatives. This includes Learning and Teaching, Research and Community Engagement.

Christopher Cupido, Acting Head of Department: Entrepreneurship and Business Management touched on the ENACTUS programme with a particular focus on students’ social enterprise development through ENACTUS as a CE project.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) was also represented at the Business Bootcamp by Xola Gxilishe, Jobs Officer, who gave a rundown of entrepreneurship and youth cooperative development programmes offered by the agency.

Amangile Botya, Akha Bobo, Williams Matsepone and Sakhile Mabena, young entrepreneurs, CPUT students and alumni, shared their respective business success stories. Scheepers viewed the bootcamp as a step towards the strengthening of partnerships and relationships within the business development sector and aims to engage in further community engagement initiatives and projects.

Two students and one staff member from the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences are ready to jet off to Germany for an exchange programme opportunity.

The two students, both in their third-year of study, are Sinazo Bonga and Likhona Lukholo Mtiya, who will be joined by Wayne Jooste, lecturer in the department of Retail Business Management.

Retail Chair Co-ordinator Fezeka Twalo said the group were going to DHBW Ravensburg University in Germany and are scheduled to leave South Africa on October 3.

Through a strategic partnership formed between Sol Plaatje University (SPU) and CPUT, SPU student Nonhlanhla Dlamini, and lecturer, Isaac Patsa, both have been afforded the opportunity to form part of the 2023 Germany Exchange Programme.

The students will be spending three months in Germany and the lecturers two weeks.

Asked how the group were selected, Twalo said: “At CPUT it was through a Management Operations Committee which emanates from the Wholesale and Retail Leadership Chair leadership structures. On the day of deciding the winning nominations, the executive SRC members were invited and attended the meeting where they contributed to the selection of students and staff. At SPU it was at their departmental meeting amongst staff members to which their Head of School gave an input with approval of selections.”

Bonga said she was elated “to be specially chosen from other qualifying applicants as the best student to take part in this life-changing exchange programme in Germany, at the prestigious DHBW Ravensburg University”.

“It's quite amusing how in my high school days I was chosen for a similar opportunity in Washington DC, but due to inescapable circumstances I could not go. However here I am three years later, blessed with another opportunity.

“My family and I are overjoyed. Excitement and gratitude flow in our veins for this opportunity that CPUT and WRSETA, through the Retail Chair, has afforded me. It's not just about traveling on a long-haul flight for the very first time; but also having knowledge of international standards in a first world country being imparted upon me, is indeed a dream come true. Once again, my heartfelt thank you goes out to CPUT, WRSETA and my supportive family. “

Likhona, who hails from King William's Town, said his journey had been marked by personal growth and development and the thought of international travels “was and still is overwhelming to take in”.

“My sincere gratitude goes to CPUT, the Retail Chair and W&RSETA for turning one of my long-term dreams into a reality I can see and feel. I believe the availability of such opportunities and monetary support genuinely proves your commitment to the growth and development of individuals like myself - an aspiring, motivated, hard-working African man who comes from an underprivileged background.

“To my parents thank you for your many sacrifices for my siblings and I – your sacrifices have paved the way for my success and this selection and trip is as much yours as it is mine. I promise to make my family proud.”

Jooste, who is also a CPUT alumnus said he was excited to have been selected for the exchange.

“Sharing all my retail knowledge and experience with students is my passion and I am thrilled at the opportunity to lecture to students internationally and provide them with unique perspectives on retailing in South Africa and likewise, I am keen to learn more about their local retail landscape and how it differs to ours. I always try my utmost to make my lectures engaging, humorous and thought provoking using a variety of learning methodologies and technology, and I am looking forward to seeing many ‘light bulb’ moments with the students in Ravensburg! I am privileged to have this opportunity and I wish to thank CPUT, the WRSETA and DHBW Ravensburg for making this all possible.”

The esteemed MEng Chemical Engineering student, Sibulele Zide, recently concluded a successful visit to Tohoku University, where he admirably defended his PhD proposal during an oral interview for a PhD programme in Japan, demonstrating his dedication, hard work, and intellectual precision.

The proposal defence represented a significant milestone in his pursuit of a doctoral degree. His research title is: Potential utilisation of fly ash for CO2 sequestration and acid mine drainage (AMD) wastewater treatment. Its focus is on the mitigation of CO2 emissions from the Earth’s atmosphere.

The research aims to develop an innovative CO2 mitigation technology and develop effective strategies to reduce the net CO2 emissions from a variety of large and low-scale CO2 emitting industries including the cement industry, coal industry, oil and gas industry to mitigate the adverse effects of global warming. The research in the future will go quite far in ensuring CO2-emitting industries save on carbon tax while gaining green credibility.

Growing up in the small city of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape Sibulele has always been a multi-faceted individual who was always analytical in nature. He also recently received the confirmation of the completion of his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at CPUT. His achievement can be attributed to his diligence, consistency, hard work, perseverance, and constant determination to become successful. “Never giving up was a major factor. I always challenged myself throughout my master’s journey and constantly tried to advance my knowledge within my research field at every opportunity available, which then translated into constant growth and improvement within my research.

“My achievement can also be attributed to the invaluable support received from my supervisors, Prof Tunde Ojumu and Prof Leslie Petrik.” Sibulele also attributed this achievement to his involvement in the SATREPS [Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development] project during his master’s studies.

“This affiliation assisted me tremendously as there were valuable contributions made towards advancing my master's study, particularly from our collaborators from Tohoku University in Japan and other stakeholders within the project. Lastly, I would also attribute this achievement to the monumental support I have always received from my family, particularly my older brother, Mawande Zide. His constant assistance throughout my academic journey was exemplary.”

Sibulele continues: “I feel very proud of this milestone and it is something I have been working towards for years now and one could say inadvertently, all my life. Watching it manifest is something truly special and life changing. At this point, the sky is truly the limit, and my road to being globally influential as a Chemical Engineer has started. I believe being a part of such an elite Graduate School (Graduate School of Environmental Studies at one of the world’s best Universities (Tohoku University) is a privilege and honour and it really sends a message that this is achievable regardless of one’s background.”

His late mother, Buyiswa Zide, has always inspired and continues him and her “kind, hardworking nature has always resonated with Sibulele and these are qualities and principles I have always tried to abide by and emulate”.

“What also inspires me is the idea of perfection and constantly improving and striving to become a better person in every sphere of life.”

He says: “This achievement is very precious to me because not only has it secured a prosperous future for me, but I think it can help people within my country, as well as other aspiring academics and engineers realise that through hard work, such opportunities can avail themselves…

“The support I have received from CPUT particularly from my department (Chemical Engineering) which I would like to take the opportunity to thank immensely has been incredible and I believe that this student support can continue to grow in the future.”

"This achievement was primarily attributed to his outstanding performance in his MEng Chemical Engineering research at CPUT, particularly his invaluable contributions to our SATREPS project funded by the Department of Science and Innovation and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency,” says Ojumu, a Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), National Research Foundation (NRF), South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) and Centres of Excellence (CoEs) hosted a two-day Strategic Institutional Engagement at Bellville campus recently.

The purpose of the engagement was to reflect on CPUT’s Research Strategy and current implementation alignment to the Decadal Plan with a particular focus on areas of advanced readiness, areas of envisaged future readiness as well as Human Capacity Development and other potential opportunities over the next five to 10 years. “And an indication of the envisaged support required,” says Dr Elma Maleka, Manager Research Uptake: Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships.

The NRF/DSI meeting came about at the right time for CPUT, says Prof Dina Burger, Director of the Research Development Directorate. “It gave us a comprehensive understanding of the respective funding streams and opportunities available, and it also provided insight in the reporting requirements.”

There were three presentations on the first day:

  • Department of Science and Innovation presented on Overview of Decadal Plan, priorities, status of implementation with a view to extrapolate areas of interest and opportunities for Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs)."
  • National Research Foundation presented on Overview of the NRF's Vision 2030, Strategy 2025 and its Strategic Investments and in particular SARChI and CoEs.
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology,
    Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho did a presentation on CPUT opportunities to expand Research and Innovation Agenda in line with national and global imperatives such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the National Development Plan.

“There are several opportunities at CPUT and some of our existing or proposed centres and institutes could benefit from this external funding in areas such as Agri-Food, Biotechnology, and Teacher Education,” Phaho said.

He also highlighted CPUT’s readiness to host any of the new NRF Research Chairs in areas where “we already have expertise, such as Biotechnology, Food Security, and Energy”. “We also seeded the idea of a School of Veterinary Science at CPUT to support the farming sector in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape seeing that we only have one school in the country at the University of Pretoria.”

Day one concluded with discussions on potential collaboration and support from the DSI, NRF and others. On day two, the NRF provided insight on the SARChI and CoE Governance. Burger and Research Chairs: Prof Glenda Davison, Prof Bongani Ncube, and Prof Zayd Waghid presented their research activities. The discussions included challenges regarding research office chair implementation and the solutions were provided.

“During this important meeting we had the opportunity by our DVC; RTIP to make a presentation on our Vision 2030 and the role that his portfolio will be playing in the implementation of the vision, the NDP and Sustainable Development Goals of Africa. We could articulate our specific needs to the delegation for ongoing and future support. It was an opportune time for CPUT to understand how to strategically further position our research entities and research chairs to align with the funding support available from the DSI/NRF,” Burger observes. She says the well-organised meeting did provide a springboard for “us to carefully craft the next steps in advancing our relationships with these two important stakeholders and to take hands to further support key initiatives that align well with those of these institutions”.

Phaho adds: “My overall impression about the engagement is that it was fruitful and productive and both the NRF and DSI have a deeper appreciation of the significant role CPUT as a UoT [University of Technology] can play in our national system of Innovation.”

Thursday, 28 September 2023

Dental Sciences give back

Oral health month is celebrated in September and the Dental Sciences Department celebrated the month by giving back.

Lecturer Nyembo Maskini said the department had the privilege of collaborating with dental students and staff from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on an outreach in Grabouw.

Ten Dental Assisting students were selected to work on the Phelophepa train over two days earlier this month.

“We saw a total of 70 patients on Saturday and 18 patients on the Sunday. The outreach took place from 8am to 16:00. Patients were screened and attended to by students under staff supervision. Treatments included cleanings, extractions, and fillings after consultations. “The department would like to thank UWC Dentistry staff and students for the amazing teamwork over the weekend. It was an absolute pleasure to collaborate on the outreach, we are grateful to Dr (Khabiso) Ramphoma from UWC Community Dentistry for the relationship and look forward to more collaborations in the near future.”

She also thanked CPUT for the transport provided.

The Department also recently held an oral health awareness visit to the Handjiesvol Hospital Creche at Tygerberg Hospital.

Maskini said children between the ages of two and six were attended to by three Dental Assisting students together with herself and Eleanor Andrews. “We had the children watching videos, which showed them how to brush and why they should brush their teeth and also how many times a day. We also brought our own models, where our students showed the children how to floss and brush. Thereafter, we had the children play games indicating the difference between healthy teeth and unhealthy teeth. Lastly, we gave the children healthy oral hygiene colouring booklets to colour in at home.”

Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Rugby team heads to Super League A

CPUT Rugby Club will be promoted to Super League A in the 2024 season, which is the highest league in Western Province Club Rugby and a potential pathway for university players into elite rugby.

In 2019 CPUT Rugby Club was promoted to Super League C for the 2020 season, but Covid-19 stopped the team from playing rugby for two years, 2020 to 2021. In 2022 the team started playing in Western Province Club Rugby Super League C. CPUT stayed for only one season in that division and got promoted to Super League B in 2023. In 2023 CPUT Rugby Club started the year playing in Super League B. Again, the club stayed for just one season in this league and got promoted to Super League A for the 2024 season.

“The Super League A is the highest league in the Western Province Club Rugby and in playing in this league it means that our students’ athletes can now play at any professional rugby union when they are scouted. “This will be the greatest opportunity for our student athletes,” said Bulelani Mlakalaka, Sport Development Officer: Rugby, Boxing and Tennis.

“This is a very huge achievement for a club that is just five years old. As the Sport Department this means that we are developing great student athletes and I would also like to thank acting HoD Sport, Mr Zandile Jacobs, for the support and the office of the acting Dean of student affairs, Ms Nonkosi Tyolwana, for believing when I request the support for the student athletes.”

Mlakalaka said they started CPUT rugby club in 2019, when they broke away from merger club, called CPUT Gardens rugby club. “’We had to start from the lowest league and climb our way to the top of the summit (Super League A). This has not been an easy journey because it’s very difficult to keep our student athletes from getting signed by other clubs or universities like UCT, Maties and UWC.”

“I would like to thank the technical team headed by our head coach Mr Alastair Theys, his assistant coach, Mr Jongi Nokwe and all the other supporting coaching staff and the CPUT rugby players for their commitment to the team during difficult times and happy times.”

Theys said: “This Is a phenomenal achievement as it was our first year in the Super League B and we are one of very few teams who has won promotion from the Super B to Super A in their first year of being in the Super B. We have the finals coming up next weekend.

“Even though it has been a very successful past five years for CPUT rugby, it has come with many hurdles and challenges.”

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