MUT staff participate in Maritime Youth Innovation Challenge

Dr Onunka, right, with some members of the team.
Dr Onunka, right, with some members of the team

MUT staff, Dr Chiemela Onunka of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was part of a team that won the Maritime Youth Innovation Challenge which took place  at the Durban University of Technology, University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) and Transnet Port Terminal and concluded on 30 November 2018.

Dr Onunka participated along with Nonjabulo Gasa, Sandile Goqo, both from UKZN’s Mechanical Engineering and Ntuthuko Msimango Department of Electronic Engineering, in the same university.

The team provided solutions on infrastructure development and improvement which will enable Transnet Port Terminal at Durban to be more efficient. “We showed them the appropriate modern automation technology and virtual reality required to efficiently load and unload ships,” said Dr Onunka. “This will enable Transnet Port Terminal to save money and time.”

The challenge took six months to complete. The team went through various innovation presentations and emerged as winners of the Challenge. They were awarded Operations Efficiency from Transnet Port Terminals.  The Challenge was sponsored by Transnet Port Terminals, Aurecon, Adams & Adams, Oracle, Domino Foundation, DUT, Technology Innovation Agency, eThekwini Maritime Cluster and it was coordinated and hosted by Innovate Durban.

Chem Engineering staff wins big at South African Institution of Chemical Engineers

Sihle, Prof Bakare, and Dr  Lasich
Sihle, Prof Bakare, and Dr Lasich

Two Chemical Engineering lecturers were awarded at the 10th Annual South African Institution of Chemical Engineers research day held at the Riverside Hotel, Durban on 30 November 2018.

Dr Mathew Lasich, a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was one of the winners.

Sihle Mtsweni, who is an nGap lecturer in the department, came third in the Oral Presentation Category out of 17 presentations conducted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in October 2018 where participants from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and University of Stellenbosch took part.

Commenting on the achievements by his colleagues, Babatunde Bakare, Associate Professor/Head, Environmental Pollution and Remediation Research Group in the Department of Chemical Engineering, who was recently elected as a committee member on the South African Institution of Chemical Engineers Board, said it “really feels good when you see colleagues winning awards for their active involvement in research.” Prof Bakare said he was very excited to see Sihle awarded for his hard work. Prof Bakare is Sihle’s Doctoral supervisor and was Sihle’s Master’s supervisor. Prof Bakare added that they published three journal articles from Sihle’s Master’s research work in DHET accredited international journals, and made presentations in two academic conferences. Sihle is currently in the 2nd year of his doctoral studies.

Sihle said that the achievement has exposed him to what others in the field are doing. “Attending the conference at UKZN and winning was a great exposure for me. I was participating in the conference for the first time,” said Sihle.

VC welcomes a cohort of new managers

Jacob, Zolisa, Noni, VC, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, Fozia and Muzi
Jacob, Zolisa, Noni, VC, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, Fozia and Muzi

Mangosuthu University of Technology has this week welcomed five new managers to strengthen the leadership of the university. The new appointees will occupy offices in the Registrar’s division, Risk and Compliance, Operations, Legal Services and the Library.

Zolisa Gqamane has been appointed Deputy Registrar: Academic Administration. He will be responsible for student admission, registration and examinations.

Jacob Mabaso, who is the Director of Risk and Compliance, will focus on the financial health of the institution and ensuring that the university gets clean audits.

Muzi Khumalo, who is the Senior Director: Operations, said amongst his priorities would be “focusing on the safety of students within the university facilities. Team-up with other portfolios to improve the physical infrastructure of the institution”

Fozia Modhi, who is the new Senior Director: Legal Services, said her first priority is “to minimise legal matters by managing them properly, internally. This will save cost on legal matters and build relations across MUT and to ensure that the role of legal services is understood internally”. She will work closely with the VC to ensure legal compliance across the institution.

Noni Makhathini, the new Senior Librarian, said her focus would be to provide “a value-driven service where the library is more visible, modern and attractive to the young user”.

VC’s 2018 year end message

Good day everyone and welcome to the MUT year-end function. The end of a year is a good time to look back, reflect on achievements, and to look forward and see what we still need to accomplish.

It is good to see so many of you here to celebrate our year-end function. It is a pleasure to be able to tell you, once again, how much I appreciate all the good work you have done and continue to do for MUT. I know that you often put in a long day and wonder if anyone has really noticed. I want to reassure you that we do notice, we do appreciate what you do, we do value it, and we are grateful that many of you are here at MUT for more than just a job but to create a bright future for our institution.

So thank you for your dedication, your imagination, and for delivering yet another very good year.

I congratulate all the staff that improved their qualifications this year. It was a long journey for some of you. Well done, you deserve it. I also thank and welcome new staff that joined us this year. I want to express my sincere condolences to families and friends of colleagues we lost, as well as my deepest sympathies to all our colleagues that lost any loved ones during the course of the year.

Our engagements during the course of the year on the Strategy 2020-2025 have strengthened our identity as a united MUT community and provided us with an opportunity to envision a shared future that we are co-creating together. Our Strategy Statement captures our intention – which is to ensure that the University, its staff, students and stakeholders are empowered to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and protected from its long-term adverse effects of exclusion and disadvantage. I thank you for your support and courage on this difficult and arduous task.

Among our successes this year, is an emerging optimistic climate and culture within the University. There are still divisions and tensions from the past. But I am happy to inform you that they are diminishing and are being replaced by a sense of unity and tolerance of our differences. Generally, there is an emerging atmosphere of caring, giving and loving and supporting one another as we create an MUT that we can all be proud of. I am beginning to hear people say things like: “life is short, you must enjoy it”; “we must not live in the past but we must live each day of our lives as if it is our last’’; and “we must not hold any grudges, as that robs us of our true humanity”. Most significantly, there is less gossiping about people, character assassinations and rumour-mongering. I am glad that we are channelling all our energies to the good of us all. Our people are indeed our assets.

We have continued during 2018 to strengthen the academic mission of our institution. The review of our academic programmes is ongoing to ensure better alignment with the National Qualification Framework and increased prospects for the employability of our graduates. We have begun to reconceptualise student entrepreneurship around the core pillars of our mission: teaching and learning, research and community engagement. There has been little disturbance of the academic project and no disruption in the provision of support services.

We have, unfortunately, hit some rough patches in 2018. The Report of the Independent Assessors highlights some of the persisting problems in the state of governance within our University. The Report also provides us with a foundation to break with the past and begin to envision a healthy future for MUT.  We also continue to have a large number of legal cases and labour disputes. It is worrying to see the readiness of senior academics and management to take matters to the CCMA without exhausting internal university processes. This costs both the university and the staff concerned a lot in terms of time, energy and money, all of which could be better spent advancing our University. I appeal that we do things differently in 2019 in order to uphold our dignity and integrity, and protect the image of the University.

There are many opportunities likely to arise in 2019. I know that collectively we will rise to the challenge. We can look ahead into the new year with confidence, hope and resilience. We know that there are vast problems ahead: such as uncertainties around the governing Council, and challenges in student funding and housing . But we also know that we have the right resources to meet those challenges.

Please remember that during the holiday season, family and friends come first. Let us reflect on this good fortune and enjoy the holidays without thinking too much about work.

Finally, I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Thank you again for your valuable contributions to the success of the University.

Dr E Duma Malaza

Electrical Engineering staff join ECSA’s assessment team

Prof Naidoo, left, and Anil, right, with Wilson Ndlovu, Head of the Department
Prof Naidoo, left, and Anil, right, with Wilson Ndlovu, Head of the Department

Two Department of Electrical Engineering staff members have recently undergone assessment and evaluation training offered by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). The training will enable staff to assess and evaluate qualifications for accreditation at universities of technology across the country.

Anil Lonappan, a lecturer in the department, has joined the pool of professionals who will perform qualification evaluation and accreditation after undergoing the ECSA training on 14 and15 November 2018. Anil said the fact that they were now part of the ECSA assessing team was a big advantage for the department. “We can only assess programmes of other institutions across the country, not MUT as that would be clash of interest. But we can now advise the department on the requirements for accreditation.”

Ralph Naidoo, an Assistant Professor in the department, is also part of the ECSA pool and has been undergoing regular training. ECSA’s Durban branch has been offered a platinum status after two papers written by Prof Naidoo earned the branch some points.