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Farewell founding fathers

The Engineering Faculty said goodbye to six staff members this year, some of whom were described as founding fathers of the faculty.

Hosting a lunch for the retirees, acting Dean of Engineering Prof Mellet Moll spoke warmly about his colleagues, praising not only their work ethic and research capacity but also their ability to bring humanity to their teaching process.

“In academia we see how people reach their prime at an advanced point in their career,” said Moll, pointing out that CPUT loses almost 150 years of experience in one go.

While retiring head of the Chemical Engineering Department Prof Daniel Ikhu-Omoregbe has only been at CPUT for ten years, Moll pointed out the department has under his leadership become the biggest contributor to research papers in the faculty despite having no research centres.

Ikhu-Omoregbe said he is glad to have achieved one of the goals he set himself over the past decade which was to leave a visible presence of Chemical Engineering at CPUT in the form of the new building on the Bellville campus.

Moll described Prof Rainer Haldenwang, retired head of the Flow Process and Rheology Centre, as a calming influence who over the years became one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of rheology.

Director of the Centre for Mechanics and Technology and a recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship, Prof Bohua Sun, said one of the best parts of having worked at CPUT since 1995 was the freedom to study what he wanted to explore. Sun most recently published a paper exploring the three-body problem from the perspective of dimensional analysis in academic journal Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy.

Head of Programme: Surveying, Jacobus Raubenheimer, who collected a Long Service Award for 40 years at CPUT earlier this year, said being part of the development of education in the engineering field was just one of the many positive features of his career: “Your colleagues are a highlight because they make your life easier,” said Raubenheim.

Prof Alvin Lagardien, founder of the Centre for Water Supply and Sanitation Research, was unable to attend the farewell lunch but was fondly mentioned by all attendees. Head of the Civil Engineering & Surveying Department Aashadia Kamalie, mentioned how proud the entire faculty was of Lagardien’s work in the field of water sanitation: “He has been key in the relationship building between CPUT and other institutions,” said Kamalie.

Also honoured at the retirement lunch was Prof Anthony Staak. While Staak is Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning he noted that his heart will always be in engineering.

“When I think of the university’s vision to be at the heart of technology education and innovation in Africa, for me that’s engineering at CPUT. I was fortunate to also study at MIT and 50% of their students are engineers. I would like the day to come when 50% of the students here are engineers,” said Staak.


Written by Theresa Smith

Hello brave new world

The Design building on the Bellville campus has a new Communication and Language Centre.

Situated on the first floor of the building, the Language Centre contains 30 computers equipped with language programmes, several language book resources and tutors on hand to help with computer and language needs.

Opened earlier this year with the help of the Financial Aid Office who sponsored three lab assistants and two tutors, the Language Centre has been offering help to Applied Sciences students for several months.

Applied Sciences Faculty Language Co-ordinator Dr Ignatius Ticha said students signed in 3180 times to use the lab, “so we have already achieved maximum usage of space,” said Ticha. The lab has been used for staff meetings, a reading quiz, training workshops and classes on two of the computer programmes aimed at improving students’ reading skills. Postgraduate students affiliated to Applied Sciences also asked for help on proposal and thesis writing.

Most of the students used the space to complete assignments or do research. The main function of the Language Centre is to provide language related services in a multilingual context. Posters about sign language dominate the walls and resource books touch on several South African and African languages.

Feedback from students who accessed the Readers are Leaders and Read and Write computer programmes is encouraging and Ticha says they will extend access to both programmes to the District Six campus during 2020.

Read and Write is a literacy support tool that works across platforms and audience members watching a demonstration of the programme were impressed by its potential use by special needs students.

The main function of the Readers are Leaders programme is to develop students’ reading speed and comprehension to the level necessary to cope with university material.

“It will grow into something useful for our faculty,” said Ticha proudly before Prof Joseph Kioko, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, declared the Language Centre open.

Kioko reminded attendees that language is not just a neutral collection of words, they have meaning. “This laboratory is about skills. The world we live in now is different to the world we learn in. Things have changed and with that the ways the students must learn. This Centre has skills and resources that will allow lecturers to teach the students to survive in this new world,” said Kioko.

Written by Theresa Smith

Stitching together career development

The Technology Station: Clothing and Textiles recently celebrated their most recent crop of short course graduates.

Acting Dean of the Engineering Faculty, Prof Mellet Moll, was on hand to award certificates to the nine learners who successfully completed four short learning programmes.

Technology Station: Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) Manager Shamil Isaacs said it was important to recognise the achievements of the industry based learners who sacrificed their free time on Saturdays to attend classes.

“Also, to appreciate the support of participating host companies Pep, Seagull Industries, K-way and Sweet Orr and acknowledge the supporting stakeholders and funders who are the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA, the Technology Innovation Agency and CPUT as the host institution,” said Isaacs.

The learners completed Introduction to Pattern and Garment Technology; Textiles and Fabrics; Computer Pattern Making; and Product and Labour Costing.

The TSCT has a menu of 18 registered short courses on its brochure, focusing on areas such as Pre-Production Technology or Textiles. About 12 of these run on a regular basis, dependent on demand in any given year. The TSCT also offers customisable programmes based on consultation with businesses as part of a company’s internal staff development programme.

The short course brochure and application form for 2019 are now available on the CPUT website.

Isaacs pointed out a key driver of the TSCT is to support small business and emerging techno-entrepreneurs with a particular emphasis on previous disadvantaged persons.

One of the learners who collected her certificate of completion is Jackie Bezuidenhout. Manufacturing Technologist for Pepkor Clothing, she considered doing the short courses worth her time. “We learnt a lot and I would recommend doing these short courses to my colleagues,” said Bezuidenhout.

Written by Theresa Smith

Plugging into renewable energy

The Centre for Distributed Power and Electronic Systems is starting to flex its muscles as the biggest Research Centre in the Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering Department.

Earlier this year CDPES launched its own real-time simulation and hardware-in-the-loop laboratory, the Opal-RT Real Time Simulation Laboratory. They recently invited representatives from marine diamond mining company DebMarine Namibia to check out the system.

The company is in the process of designing a new mining vessel but does not have the in-house ability to test the capacity of proposed electrical systems before they are installed on the ship. Potentially this research could be handled by CDPES or DebMarine Namibia employees could be trained to use the OPAL-RT simulator in the CPUT laboratory in order to do the testing themselves.

While giving the DebMarine Namibia representatives a brief overview of CDPES and the Energy Institute deputy head of operations at CDPES, Dr Marco Adonis, pointed out that the laboratory in which he was standing was operating completely off the grid. The Solar MD Renewable Energy Laboratory is powered and run by a Photovoltaic back-up laboratory system and is already used as a teaching lab.

CDPES is also currently setting up a Phoenix Contact Instrumentation Laboratory and about to install a Chroma Solar PV Simulator and Inverter Testing Laboratory plus a Chroma Battery Simulator and Testing Laboratory.

“We are trying to set ourselves up as unique and to specialise with regards to our research ambit,” Adonis explained the new laboratory spaces.

CDPES is currently overseeing 36 BTech students, all on track to graduate at the end of 2018. At the recent 2018 CDPES BTech Conference the students presented papers on a host of subjects ranging from the voltage regulation of wind turbines connected to the grid to thoughts on a renewable energy-based water purification system for a rural village in South Africa.

Engineer Hermann Oelsner was invited to open the Conference and he delivered a talk on renewable energy and his ideas for setting up a desalination plant on the West Coast. Oelsner spoke about the changes in renewable energy technology over the past ten years and challenged the BTech students to think about what research was needed in a quickly changing industry.

After all the papers were delivered Dorian Anyala won best presentation for his paper “Feasibility study into the possibility of setting up a concentrated solar power plant into the Namibian national grid” while Asive Poswayo was the runner-up for his paper “Resynchronisation of grid-connected PV system after downstream faults clearance.”


Written by Theresa Smith

Exercising your way to wellness

The annual Wellness Day was well received by staff this year.

Over 130 staff members took advantage of Discovery health screenings on both campuses and CPUT Campus Health Clinics and the HIV/Aids unit tested and screened almost 100 staff members.

Human Capital – Lifestyle & Wellness specialist Samukelisiwe Mbambo said more staff members participated in the Fun Walk than the Virgin Active Zumba sessions while the shoulder massages proved to be very popular.

“Our partners for the 2018 Wellness Day sponsored soccer balls (Sanlam) and T-Shirts (IEMAS), conducted assessments on mental health (Akeso Clinics and The South African Depression and Anxiety Group), provided budgeting tools (DGSA) and information on the CPUT Omega Caro-E capsule,” said Mbambo.

The fun run which took place on the Bellville campus saw staff walk around the campus before taking to the track on the Sports Field where they encouraged each other to break into the occasional jog with much laughter.

The Lifestyle & Wellness unit has started working on their plans for next year and want to include more of the CPUT satellite campuses in their efforts.

“We have partnered with the CPUT Sports Department. Currently we have two teams, soccer and netball, and we want to launch a cycling club in 2019. We are looking into branding through caps and other fitness gear for employees who participate in Discovery Vitality activities on weekends, such as fun runs. This would allow the office to know how many Vitality members are active.

“Employees are encouraged to sign up for group or departmental fitness activities so that the Wellness office could support them,” said Mbambo.

She was excited that Virgin Active are negotiating with the Lifestyle & Wellness unit to partner with CPUT to offer Zumba classes next year.

Written by Theresa Smith

Top Civil Engineering students awarded

The Civil Engineering and Surveying Department honoured their top students of 2017 at a recent Academic Excellence Awards Ceremony on Bellville campus.

Opening the ceremony Head of the Civil Engineering & Surveying Department Ashaadia Kamalie said she sometimes felt they spend far too little time with the students who excel. “We don’t always take the time to recognise the students who do well and are ambassadors for CPUT. Also, the special relationships we have with our industry partners. We appreciate you,” said Kamalie.

Altogether there were 43 categories, with the awards sponsored by various companies from the Civil Engineering and Surveying industry.

The top students in various subjects were honoured, with awards ranging from the Parker Award for Best BTech dissertation (Thabani Thusi) to the Adkins Medlab Supplies Best Student in Surveying 1 and 2 (picked up by Denve Du Plooy who also won the country-wide Smarttech Best Student in Surveying 1 and 2 in South Africa for 2017 award).

Two students picked up four awards apiece (Jan Hendrick Bothma and Gerrit Brand) while three students got three awards each (Denve Du Plooy, Whidaad Nazier and Ridwaan Vorajee). Six students picked up two awards each, including Rahima Nordien adding to the rising number of merit awards won by females in the department.

In welcoming the students, their parents and staff to the Awards Ceremony, acting Dean of Engineering Prof Mellet Moll said he is proud of CPUT’s track record in advancing the role of women in engineering. “Especially in this department where we have such wonderful role models,” said Moll, referencing by name Kamalie and acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation & Partnerships Prof Marshall Sheldon.

The awards ceremony’s guest speaker was retired Head of the Flow Process and Rheology Centre, Prof Rainer Haldenwang, who delivered a motivating speech, recounting his life’s story and 31 years spent working at CPUT.

A CPUT alumnus, Haldenwang was one of the first people to gain his MTech in Civil Engineering as well as DTech from CPUT.

“I look back fondly on these 31 years,” he said. “I’ve done things I would not have perceived possible when I started out. I am incredibly blessed and it’s an amazing journey.  I wish young people could grasp that… It doesn’t matter where you start, it is how you grasp the opportunities that come your way,” said Haldenwang.

Written by Theresa Smith

Fostering healthy industry relationships

The Faculty of Applied Sciences recently hosted a WIL industry breakfast.

Industry representatives who regularly take in CPUT students for Work Integrated Learning stints mingled with lecturers, students and WIL coordinators at the Cape Town Hotel School Restaurant on Granger Bay for a pleasant exchange of ideas.

Students who excelled at their WIL assignments were profiled in a brochure and awarded trophies for excelling at their work.

In welcoming the attendees Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Prof Joseph Kioko, said the faculty took great pride in producing relevant and employable graduates.

“This breakfast is a way to acknowledge industry effort in making this possible and we also wish to recognise and affirm the students who do really well during WIL. I recognise that they cannot do this on their own,” said Kioko.

Roberto Isaacs, environmental manager at the City of Cape Town, shared what they have learned over the years of working with WIL students. CPUT students from the Environmental Health programme do WIL four times in a year and his department is instrumental in placing students within appropriate structures and providing mentorship and guidance.

Since the City of Cape Town does not yet employ enough environmental health practitioners to service the burgeoning population they treat the students as potential employees and prepare them for the reality of work.

“Like taking students into informal settlements when some of them have never been to one. During WIL the students are exposed to all the elements of environmental health so when they leave we want to believe they leave as all-round professionals. Real life knowledge is important,” said Isaacs.

He pointed out the quality of Environmental Health students has improved over the years as the City of Cape Town provided feedback to CPUT and the programme improved its curriculum according to the needs of industry.

Isaacs mentioned two CPUT third year Environmental Health students who won national awards at the South African Institute of Environmental Health’s recent conference.  Adiela Fakier won first place while Nonkosi Somwahla picked up second place for best WIL projects.

On a provincial level Environmental Health graduates Sinesipho Mpini won first prize and Boipelo Makotong won second prize for their community service projects at the recent Environmental Health Summit in the Northern Cape held in conjunction with SALGA.

Prof Lalini Reddy, Applied Sciences Faculty WIL Co-ordinator, was pleased by the turn out: “WIL is important because it gives students first-hand experience in the workplace, so that they enter the job market better prepared. Students have the opportunity to quickly mature by developing their holistic personality.”

Written by Theresa Smith

Working across disciplines to help learners

Education and Business students recently banded together to work on a literacy project aimed at primary school children.

Learners from the Belhar Pentech Community Care organisation travelled to CPUT’s Wellington Campus for a day of workshops geared around language and literacy.

The five students from the Faculty of Education joined three Business Management students plus a visiting student from Belgium to explore creative ways to engage the 26 learners who ranged from Grade 3 to 6.

Once the students had shown the learners around the Wellington campus they started with icebreakers and then divided the children into groups, rotating them around various stations.

Third year Education student Johan Pienaar was responsible for the debating and critical thinking station where learners were taught how to argue a point and critically question what is being said. He initially thought they would be dealing with older children so quickly had to adjust his methods: “The learners got distracted easily so in future I would look to incorporate more visual and practical resources to retain their attention,” said Pienaar.

Senior lecturer in the Department of English in the Faculty of Education Dr Hanlie Dippenaar said the purpose of the workshop was to give the students a chance to work with learners in an informal setting and to work across disciplines.

“This was a pilot project which might be developed into a longitudinal project. It could be done as a weekend camp in future,” said Dippenaar.

NGO Help2Read, which often partners with the Wellington Campus on Community Projects and Service-Learning, donated a book to each of the learners, who also received stationery from the Community Engagement Unit, which helped to plan the project.

“We would like to thank the CE Unit for the opportunity and we would be interested in doing similar projects that could include more students,” said Dippenaar.

Written by Theresa Smith

Enabling environmental health practitioners

The Environmental Health programme recently said goodbye to the last third year students for the course in its current format.

On the last day of their exams, as the programme came to a close, the staff threw the 35 students a small party.

In addition to the surprise party the students also received their Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) certificates. [The HPCSA is a statutory body which aims to protect the public by investigating unethical conduct by qualified practitioners and regulating the training of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), medical Doctors and other health professionals.]

Acting Head of Programme: Environmental Health Michael Agenbag said it made the day very special because the certificates would enable the students to register for community service.

“To illustrate the importance of these certificates and their implication for our students, our cohort of the 2015 Environmental Health students who are currently doing their BTech could not get placement for their compulsory Community Service this year at the Cape Winelands District Municipality because they did not have their HPCSA student registration certificates,” said Agenbag.

Community Service is not a requirement to graduate, but it is expected of EHPs to give back to the country. “The authorities determine where the biggest needs are, in particular in underserviced areas where the country struggles to retain health professionals,” explained Agenbag.

The current cohort of 1st and 2nd year Environmental Health students at CPUT has been studying towards a four year professional degree known as Bachelor of Environmental Health since the start of 2017.

“This degree will now become the minimum requirement for students and qualified Environmental Health Practitioners to register with HPCSA as EHPs to work within the scope of the profession,” explained Agenbag.

The new professional degree students would also have to register as student EHPs to do community service. Though the Professional Board for Environmental Health within the HPCSA has asked that students handle their own registration Agenbag says CPUT’s Environmental Health programme has decided to step in to help with administrative arrangements.

Written by Theresa Smith

Starting a foundation of hope

Student organisation The Hope Foundation donated clothes to Khayelitsha residents who lost their homes in a recent fire.

Sparked by a news report that more than 1 300 people had been left homeless after hundreds of shacks were destroyed in a blaze, The Hope Foundation teamed up with student organisation Nika Foundation to help the people in need, despite all the students being busy with November exams.

“The organisations collected 70 bags of clothes and a few bags of food from some of the CPUT residences. This was done by organisation members and volunteers by way of a door to door collection,” explained The Hope Foundation co-founder, second year Accounting student, Ntombozuko Bota.

She said they laundered and sorted all the clothes at night in a very short time frame, leading to some sleepless nights for volunteers. “It was a lot of work to do but we managed as the aim was to give within a reasonable timeframe, while people are still in need,” said Ntombozuko.

The Hope Foundation was founded in 2017 by Ntombozuko, Maphelo Tshapile and Sinethemba Mabovu and it has grown to include not only CPUT students.

“We started by looking for sponsors to help children whose families were affected by the fire in Philippi at the beginning of this year. We then donated school shoes to an orphanage in the Strand and this donation to the people of Khayelitsha is our third project.

“Our projects are dependent on donors and sponsors and we are currently looking for sponsors and donors to help us help the children of an orphanage with Christmas clothes and school uniforms for January. Our mission is to be the voice of the disadvantaged, to restore hope to hopeless souls,” said Ntombozuko.

She pointed out the most recent collection for Khayelitsha residents was a huge success only because of the students who opened their hearts to donate and the volunteers who put a lot of effort into the project.

Written by Theresa Smith