Innovative lecturer shines bright

EXCELLENCE: Dr Bronwyn Swartz.

Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering lecturer, Bronwyn Swartz, is celebrating after winning the Faculty Teaching Award in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and graduating with a DPhil Quality Management.

In her research for her DPhil at Durban University of Technology, Swartz developed an Operational Excellence (OpEx) Model for South African pharmaceutical manufacturers.

She specifically looked at the influence of culture on quality management practices and identified practices (supported by the culture) that leads to OpEX.

“I defined culture as ‘shared values’ in an organisation. Thus, if employees of an organisation values certain things, for example ‘respect for time’, the employees in that organisation will always be on time. In this way, ‘culture’ is what drives behaviour and operations in an organisation. Culture itself is a bit more complex than that and there are different archetypes within organisational culture, however, ultimately an appropriate blend of culture is the key to OpEx,” she said.

Swartz’s achievements have not gone unnoticed as she was awarded the Faculty Teaching Award in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment Award recently.

“I teach statistics and research methods. In my courses I adopted a wide range of online activities as standard practices. My courses are all heavily blended, as much as 50% face to face and 50% online facilitation.”

She added: “I’m just feeling very grateful for all the opportunities to stand on the shoulders of giants. My giants are my incredible family and supportive friends. All of my students are giants, my supervisors, my mentors – so many people at CPUT guiding me. They are all ‘my tribe’ and they made it possible. My achievements are really our achievements. Nothing can be done in isolation.”

The modest academic attributed her achievements to what she termed as the usual stuff; hard work, discomfort, thick skin and countless of failed attempts. “But if you don’t give up, you’ll never fail.”
She revealed that she and her students are in the process of developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to teach data analytics to non-statisticians.

Jokingly, Swartz said; “I really want to be a superhero, but I think the vacancy for Supergirl is already filled, so I guess I’ll just have to be a Professor one day. On a more serious note, I want to spend the next few years focusing on my research. I’m in the process of developing a MOOC. Everyone should have access to a course on how to analyse data – even if you never went to university.”

*Swartz is also finalist in the 2019 International e-Learning Excellence Awards.

Written by Aphiwe Boyce