Engineering Research Professor puts MUT on world map  

Prof Haupt, right, receiving some of his awards from the newly appointed President, Prof Shakantu

Prof Theo Haupt, the Research Professor at the Faculty of Engineering continues to lead MUT to greater heights. On 6 and 7 August 2018, MUT, under the leadership of Prof Haupt, and eThekwini Municipality, hosted the Association of Schools of Construction of Southern Africa’s (ASOCSA) 12th Built Environment Conference in Durban. The conference which was attended by delegates from Southern Africa, and the UK was themed Sustainable Construction, Transformation and Development: emerging opportunities and Challenges. “We have had to bring academics and students to discuss the main issues for Southern Africa. The conference papers presented are of world class standard and will attract cash from the government,” said Prof Haupt who emphasised the importance of involving students in the conference.

The conference also included Lifetime Achievement Awards. Prof Haupt featured strongly during the awards.  He went to the podium thrice, taking an award for being a co-author of the best paper; an award for most reviewed conference paper and an award for bringing in most delegates to the conference.  Prof Haupt’s leadership was also recognised on two other fronts – by eThekwini Municipality, who are funders of the three Chairs – MUT, DUT, and UKZN. Dr Andrew Mather, Project Executive: Coastal Policy in the Municipality, said the Municipality recognised the need to assist in developing scarce skills in the municipal area, as well as at the local universities that help develop the region. Dr Mather said they were pleased to be part of the conference, which was MUT’s initiative.

In the same event, Prof Haupt also received a Newton Advance Fellowship from the British Academy, in partnership with the London South Bank University for the next two years. This Fellowship is given to distinguished scholars and researchers in South Africa and the UK. The event also saw Prof Kahilu Kajimo-Shakantu elected new President of ASOCSA. Prof Kajimo-Shakantu is from the UFS. She said she intended to take ASOCSA forward.


MUT’s stand against women abuse receives support from great speakers

Guest speakers, from left: Ashantewaa, Jackie and Zanele

The message against women abuse and all kinds of unfair behaviour directed at women echoed from a full house of women in black at Durban’s Coastlands Hotel on 7 August 2018 when MUT celebrated Women’s Day. The message directed to women and child abusers was clear – the time for women abuse is over. Leading the call were three powerful speakers, Jackie Phamotse, Ashantewaa Archer-Ngidi and Zanele Mbokazi.

Senior Director at MarComms, Mbali Mkhize, said all over the world there were reports of women being taken advantage of. “In most cases women are suffering at the hands of people close to them. MUT has decided to join those standing against all forms of women abuse. MUT invites men and women to give all possible support to this noble position. We are sending a special plea to parents and guardians to raise their children such that they value the two genders, that way society will move a long way towards
gender parity,” said Mbali.

Jackie Phamotse, an author and business woman, talked about the dangers of social media. She said the platform has been abused by people that post undesirable messages on it. Jackie herself is a victim of cyber bullying. Bad comments have been posted on social media about her life encounters. Jackie appealed to women to first be aware of an abusive relationship and then find better ways to deal with the situation so they did not become victims. She advised women to support each other instead of pulling one another down. “Women must see the impact of action, and recognize the damage of social
media,” she added.

Zanele Mbokazi, a business woman and television and radio personality, reminded women that they could achieve more if they stood together. “Today let us silent the negative voices,” Zanele said. Among the social ills she highlighted was the level of jealousy among women.  She went to town, explaining how jealously hinders progress for women, and the society at large. Zanele asked women to reach for their inner strength.

Ashantewaa paid tribute to all the women that put their children through school. She said her mother sold chicken meat to learners from a nearby school. This way she was able to pay her children’s school fees. Also at the event MUT honoured women that have made an impact in improving the lives of others by giving them awards. Muntu Ntombela, the Principal of Menzi High School, received an award in the Women in Leadership category.  Nareshini Ranganthan was honoured in the category of Women in Philanthropy, and Joyleen Mahanetsa, an MUT alumna was awarded as a Woman in Business.



CHPC strengthens ties with MUT

Bryan, second from left, with IT&N staff, and Prof Karabo Shale, right, who organised the meeting

MUT is well on the way to preparing for the 4th Industrial Revolution. On 2 August 2018 the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) had discussions with MUT staff and students on the importance of preparing for the era that is already upon us. CHPC Director, Dr Happy Sithole, invited MUT staff to take advantage of the CHPC’s resources, and students to take part in academic competitions run by the Centre. Dr Sithole, said that researchers nowadays need high performing technological support to make a quick impact.  Prof Karabo Shale, who co-ordinated the meeting, said the High Performance Computing (HPC) will provide MUT with access to computational modelling phenomena that deal with big data in areas such as Health studies, Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Management Sciences big data analysis.  “This is, however not limited to these fields. HPC can also be used in semantics, materials, urban planning, genomics, economics, design as well as music among others,” said Prof Shale, who is a Research Professor in the Faculty of natural Sciences.

Some MUT researchers already using the CHPC facilities are Dr Njabulo Gumede, Dr Nkululeko Damoyi and Dr Matthew Lasich, all from the Chemistry department. Dr Damoyi’s research is in Computational Chemistry (CC).  “Through the CHPC in Cape Town, we are able to use internet to connect to their cluster computers in order to run the calculations and from the results be able to model chemical reactions. Nineteen MUT BTech students that I have supervised in CC research projects have already graduated,” said Dr Damoyi.

Bryan Johnston, CHPC Senior Technologist, said they would train MUT IT&N staff on basic introduction to high performance computing (HPC), hands-on introduction to the HPC system administration. Bryan said they also discussed the roadmap for future expansion, which will include donation of an additional server to MUT by CHPC.

MUT staff bring a smile to Masibambaneni Care Centre on Mandela Day

Dudu, second from left, with MUT staff, students and DSW staff

Dudu Ngcobo-Maphalala, the Manager of Masibambaneni Care Centre, a place for children with disabilities in Umlazi Township, just up the road from the MUT’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, poured her heart out in a letter thanking MUT staff, students and sponsors for the donations they made to the centre on Mandela Day.

Prof Busi Nkonki-Mandleni, Director at the Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement (IRDCE), which led the project, said the centre was part of the surrounding areas where they were doing needs analysis. “MUT community, in partnership with eThekwini Municipality and Bargain Books presented donations such as garden tools, a computer, CD player, books, toys, non-perishable food and clothes. The children were involved in stimulating activities such as artwork, face painting, reading and dancing,” said Prof Nkonki-Mandleni.  MUT Waste ambassadors (MUTWA) in collaboration with Durban Solid Waste shared the importance of keeping surroundings clean with the communities of Umhlabeni and Ezakheleni, where the centre is located.

Enactus MUT excels in a special competition in the annual national completion

Mpulo, left, receiving a cheque from Nedbank Foundation’s Tshegofatso Bokaba, middle, while Enactus MUT, Samke Mashaba, looks on

The year 2018 has been very good for Enactus MUT. The team was outstanding at the annual national competition on 12 and 13 July 2018 at Sandton Convention Centre. They won three out of six awards available, taking first place in the General Electrical Challenge, beating six teams from other universities that made it to the finals. For their trouble the team won R50 000, which Mfundo Mpulo, the President of Enactus MUT, said would be re-invested in their renewable energy projects. Enactus MUT achieved second place in scalability challenge, sponsored by Nedbank. This award was presented to teams that were able to scale their projects and to utilise a systematic approach to identify and sequence development intervention. The MUT team also won second place in Harmony Local Economic Development (LED). In this category teams were judged based on how they worked with the local municipality to uplift the local community.

Enactus MUT also participated in the annual national competitions where they acquired fifth position. “For all we achieved, we would like to thank our stakeholders and sponsors who assisted us. Some of these were Dr Papi Numbi, and Sibongiseni Masondo, both of Electrical Engineering; Prof Karabo Shale, Research Professor at Natural Sciences faculty, the office of the Dean of Students; IRDCE; and the TSC.”

In the same national completion, Mfundo, a third year Accounting student was named student leader of the year 2018 out of the 2590 Enactus students in the country.