MUT signs an MOU with Nigeria’s university

Committed! Prof Onuegbu Ugwu, left, and Prof Ramogale, right, signing the MOU while Prof Haupt looks on

MUT’s research is heading for a very strong position thanks to the MOU signed by MUT and Nigeria’s Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI), a university in Ebonyi State in western Nigeria. “Let it work,” said a happy MUT Acting VC, Prof Marcus Ramogale after the signing. Prof Onuegbu Ugwu, Director, Research and Development, signed for FUNAI.  As far as the MOU goes, the two universities will collaborate in research, which will bring synergy and save resources. This will enhance the quality of research from both institutions. There will also be an exchange of students so they could acquire relevant exposure to research in a different African country. The MOU will cut across all three MUT faculties. Prof Ugwu said collaboration between universities was a global trend.  Prof Theo Haupt, Research Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at MUT, said the reason for choosing FUNAI was two-fold. “We want to provide access, affordability and find African solutions to African problems. Also, FUNAI’s vision is very similar to MUT’s. For instance their priority areas of research are the same as ours, but also much broader. I am a very strong proponent of African collaboration,” said Prof Haupt, who added that the two universities were equal partners in the agreement that he said would be followed through. FUNAI’s research themes are agriculture, health, engineering, community services and frontiers. Frontiers include nanotechnology, biotechnology, and innovative solutions to climate change. Both Prof Haupt and Prof Ugwu said this approach would contribute to the realization of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Another common area between the two universities is that they are both keen to include entrepreneurial skills in their academic offerings. Prof Ramogale’s presence enhanced
support for this MoU at executive level.

 

MUT student wins Orlando Pirates diva competition

One for the Ghosts! Sylvia, seated, with first and second princesses

Sylvia Sanele Mthethwa, a third year Public Administration student, is now Bucs Super Diva/Miss Orlando Pirates. “I saw the competition on Facebook and decided to enter,” said Sylvia, who is an intern at HR&D. Sylvia beat 25 contestants from the whole Republic. She was the only one from KwaZulu-Natal. Sylvia says she is overwhelmed by the victory, but is geared up for the challenges it has brought her. “I will visit charity homes and talk to women and children about human trafficking, which was a theme for the competition,” said Sylvia who hails from Vryheid.

 

Acting VC reminds staff of the importance of values

Values result in happy life! Prof Ramogale and Gcina Mhlophe, middle, foreground, lead the dance after speeches

The Friday of 3 November 2017 will always be different. This is when MUT Management reminded staff of the importance of their values at a gathering theme, IIFASE – the story of our values. The Acting VC, Prof Marcus Ramogale, told staff values were part of the higher culture that defined people, and respect should be at the centre of that arrangement. People should embrace their values and live by them. “In some societies, where there was a vacuum, someone with less humane values took over, and that resulted in a lot of suffering,” he said. During this day of fun, Dr Gcina Mhlophe, a renowned storyteller, illustrated the importance of the values. She also emphasized the centrality of respect, a trait she learnt from her parents. “Don’t be an embarrassment to your University. Observe the necessary restrictions that guide our lives,” she said. Prof Peter Small, Nature Conservation head, wrote a poem that won him a prize. The poem was based on MUT’s values, which are Innovation, Integrity, Forefront, Accountability, Self-respect and Excellence (IIFASE).

SA needs to start early to bring girls into STEM – Dr Kwitshana

Dr Kwitshana, third from left, with colleagues at Morgan State University, US

“In SA we need to start early, from Primary schools to nurture the girl-child in Mathematics and Science fields and increase awareness about the opportunities,” said Dr Lungi Kwitshana, the Head of the Department of Biomedical Technology. Dr Kwitshana was a panellist at a conference co-hosted by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) from 24-27 October 2017. Dr Kwitshana had two very strong messages. “If we continue to exclude women in STEM, we exclude 52% of the global brain power from participating and contributing towards intellectual and economic development, and that we need to move research from the laboratory (bench side) to bedside and ultimately to commercialisation.”

Dr Kwitshana added that the HBCUs were willing to have exchange programmes for staff and students, with opportunities for dual qualifications where staff and students could register for post-graduate studies at MUT and HBCU. “This will help accelerate MUT’s post-graduate programmes, staff credentialing and exposure of our staff and students to the international arena,” she said.

Three more academic programmes given ‘full credit’

Gona Govender

“Hearty congratulations! Three more milestones for MUT!” This is how Acting VC, Prof Marcus Ramogale, reacted to the news that MUT now has a right to offer three more programmes, the Bachelor of Health Science: Medical Laboratory Science (BHSC:MLS), Advanced Diploma in Cost and Management Accounting, and the Advanced Diploma in Chemical Engineering. These programmes are ‘fully accredited,” said Dr Louie Swanepoel, Senior Manager: Accreditation at the Council on Higher Education (CHE), referring to the last two programmes, while the Health Professions Council of South Africa, Professional Board for Medical Technology Committee Coordinator, Lesego Ntsimane said that the MUT BHSC: MLS programme has been “approved for a period of five years.” Academic programmes are revised after a certain period of time to ensure they remain relevant.  Acting DVC: Teaching and Learning, Mr Gona Govender commended all the deans for the sterling work during the QEP workshop.

MarComms thanks Comtech teachers for their efforts

Zama Sishi and Mbali Mkhize handing the laptops to the Comtech teachers

MUT and Comtech must grow together as neighbours and partners in education! This is what Emmanuel Shandu, the new Principal of Comtech High School in Umlazi Township said when MarComms’ Mbali Mkhize and Zama Sishi, Senior Director and Director: Stakeholder Relations respectively, delivered two laptops to Nkosinathi Mpanza, Maths teacher, and Mayibongwe Sibisi, Physical Science teacher, on 2 November 2017. Zama said MarComms’ main goal was to encourage the teachers to produce more good students. Ndumiso Ndamane, now a university student, excelled in his grade 12 last year. He got 100% in both Maths and Physical Science, thanks to the two very humble teachers who said their strategy was making sure the learners understood the concepts so they could not struggle with subjects. “I first start with the basics,” said Nkosinathi. Mayibongwe said he divided the class and then worked on the learners’ strengths. Mayibongwe has a BSc degree, while Nkosinathi has B Paed degree. They both said that they were happy MUT was recognising their hard work. “We are teaching even during the weekends,” said Nkosinathi. He promised they would triple their efforts so their learners did not become part of the students that drop out from the universities.

Mbali said they hoped the laptops were going to encourage the teachers to do more. She added that MUT was looking forward to welcoming more Comtech students to MUT next year.

MUT rolls out its inaugural Master of Nature Conservation degree

Department of Nature Conservation staff. From left – Prof Peter Small, Prof McDonald and Prof Akash Anandraj

MUT proudly rolled out in January 2017 the Master of Nature Conservation degree. The  degree, the first of its kind for a university of technology in the country, develops academic ability to apply scientific methods in supervised research and/or problem solving, and the communication and/or effective implementation of investigative research findings. It focuses on strategic level management, advanced research methods and significant relevant research. The qualification is aimed at generating new knowledge within the industry and developing a career path for graduates. The programme has both coursework and research components. The latter culminates in a mini-dissertation.

Selection criteria for admission to the Master of Nature Conservation are based on both academic prowess and field experience.  Students wishing to be admitted to this qualification are required to be in possession of a Post-Graduate Diploma in Nature Conservation, or a Bachelor of Science Honours in Biological Sciences, or an equivalent four-year qualification in the same or similar field. In addition the student must have attained an aggregate of 60% in their final level major subjects.

 

Anyone wishing to apply to study for this programme must submit the title of the proposed mini-dissertation, plus the research proposal to the Head of Department: Nature Conservation, before or on 15 November 2017. Contact details for the Head of Department are: Prof Gavin McDonald, P O Box 12363, Jacobs 4026; gavin@mut.ac.za or 0319077623.

The Head of Department will evaluate each application on academic merit and ascertain whether a suitable supervisor is available, and whether suitable resources are available either within the University, or be arranged elsewhere.

All recommended applications will be submitted to the Research Ethics Committee in January, and be recommended for approval by the Faculty of Natural Sciences Research Committee which meets later in January.

All successful applicants will register for the programme in early February.

Tell me your friends and I will tell you who you are: Alumni Masters

MUT Masters, with friends and MUT staff

On 12 August 2016, a high-powered group of MUT alumni gathered for a laudatory event for one of their own at Durban’s ICC. This was a culmination of months of work between the MUT Alumni office and the ‘Alumni Masters’ as they call themselves.

The camaraderie during the event showed a very happy group of alumni who have all made it. They are the group that started off at MUT and never looked back. Soon after graduating from MUT, most of them moved to then University of Natal for further qualifications in various engineering fields and subsequently became professional engineers.

This is a cohort that grew up being told over and over about the need to choose their networks of association. They became a little family of MUT and continued to maintain connections, encouraging one another to grow further. It was thus not surprising that almost 20 years after completion, they were keen to celebrate each other’s success. The guests of honour were Mlamuli Buthelezi who had recently been appointed Transnet National Group Chief Operations Officer, TC Madikane, President South African Institute of Electrical Engineers.  and Themba Mthembu, KZN MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development. 

They all shared a common message with their alumni fellows: “There is need to support our alma mater in order to improve skills development in this country. Let’s not forget our roots and remember to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” they echoed as if they read the same speech.

MEC Mthembu emphasised a need “to understand the terrain within which we operate and a need to understand the colonial imprint that was imposed upon us  which makes us seek to stay in jobs we were qualified for.  It is thus imperative for us to become activists of change – for the youth not to be held hostage by poverty. Economic development cannot be devoured from building a non-racial society. As MUT alumni we must be aware of the massive unemployment which is a painful addition part of our society”.  Mr Mthembu reminded alumni “that not to gain the world and lose your soul wisdom is better than gold.”

Chief event organisers and fellow alumni, Raymond Cele and Sifiso Vezi (Dweba) shared a light moment on the lives ‘lived at MUT’. They recalled that the guys from Jo’burg used to be fascinated by how the females used expressions like, ‘Ngeke oh’, Awuve uyisicefe’ when they courted them. This was well before 1994 when being away from one’s hometown was an issue.

For Mlamuli Buthelezi, who had even studied at the University of Louisianna, US, his message to his classmates was: “Develop a global supply chain. Have a balance of trade. Compete in the coal industry with those of Australia, Indonesia; become thought leaders and come up with solutions. Be innovative and think like the inventors of Uber. Think about the kind of equivalents we can come up with to improve ourselves. Mlamuli mentioned that now as working individuals, they used to feel bad about the fact that black students were failing badly and they formed a Black Association for Engineers to close the gap and empower black students to also excel.

His parting message was: “We must continue to plough back to this great University which opened doors for us. Lions hunt in packs. We should do that and give back to MUT.”

It was thus that when the moment to pledge arrived, alumni pledged R365 000 while setting a target of R1m towards student bursaries.  Understanding the demise of engineering students who struggle to find Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities. This ends up delaying their graduation. The MUT Masters offered 25 WIL opportunities for MUT engineering students.

A winning innovation by MUT graduates

Third and fourth, Khulani Ngcobo and Xolisani Ngcobo, with DUT students

In an effort to find innovative solutions to present day socio-economic challenges, two MUT ICT graduates created a device and mobile application which locate missing children around the city. For this innovation they won a cash prize at the Innovate Durban Business Summit held on 15 July 2016 at the iconic Moses Mabhida stadium. This was a business initiative by the eThekwini Municipality that encourages youth to use technology to address socio-economic challenges. Khulani Ngcobo and Xolisani Ngcobo partnered with Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Vuyani Nala and Mnqobi Gumede to design a wristband that transmits an individual’s location to a mobile app that then pinpoints the individual’s location. The group was awarded a collective R11500.00 for their effort. Speaking about the prize, Xolisani said: “As recent graduates and budding entrepreneurs, the prize money will go towards further developing the app, and adding on improved features. It will also help in advancing our business.” He said they created NeoOptic Solutions – an IT solutions company, through the mentorship of their lecturers.

2017 Recognition awards

Seated, Prof Zodwa Dlamini, DVC: Research, Innovation and Engagements, with award winners

An unforgettable Founders’ Dinner was held at Durban’s Hilton Hotel on 11 July 2017, the second day of MUT’s Research, Innovation and Engagements (RIE) Week. The main goal of the event was to thank the Founders of the University for their vision of creating a University that would fill a huge gap in the South African educational landscape.

MUT has its roots firmly grounded in the community it serves. Its location in the heart of Umlazi Township, where it was established in 1979 as the first Technikon for Africans in KwaZulu-Natal, has helped in the socio-economic development of Umlazi Township, KwaZulu-Natal and beyond. Being the only university of technology firmly rooted in a township has put MUT at the vanguard of serving students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

MUT is grateful for the support received from all our stakeholders and partners. The Founders’ Dinner was an opportunity to meet and acknowledge its funders, sponsors, partners and stakeholders in general. In particular it was an opportunity to:

  • Honour men, women, groups and organisations who have worked hard to transform MUT into a new-generation university – from top alumni who continuously find ways to partner with MUT, to leaders that have been at the helm and walked with MUT to build it into a nationally respected institution;
  • Celebrate the on-going road map of developing MUT into a pre-eminent university of technology that supports the National Systems of Innovation (NSI) and the National Development Plan; and
  • Honour business excellence and the generosity of our founding fathers, subsequent donors and sponsors.

The occasion provided space to expose the great work of MUT’s strategic partners, and allowed the University to showcase its theme of ‘Engaging globally for local impact’. Six awards were handed out to deserving individuals at the event.


Most Active Alumni Award

On 7 March 2015, almost 20 years after graduating at MUT, a group of former students gathered at the Senate Chambers to launch a chapter which they called the ‘MUT Masters’. Since then they have become a little family of MUT brand ambassadors who are united in supporting their alma mater in order to improve skills development in the country.

At the forefront of the numerous efforts and positive contributions by the MUT Masters are alumni Raymond Cele, Sifiso Mdakane and Sifiso Vezi. On 12 August 2016, in partnership with the MUT alumni relations office, the MUT Master’s Bursary Fund was launched to support financially needy students who want to pursue their studies in engineering. The fund is made possible by the generous contributions of alumni and industrial friends of the MUT Masters.


Most Active Alumni – Employment & Personal Development of MUT Students

MUT is an institution that trains students so that they are “job-ready” when they graduate. But job opportunities can be difficult to come by. Aware of this fact, Herbert Msagala – a former MUT student who is now one of the leading figures at Transnet – took it upon himself to assist graduates from his alma mater.

On 6 May 2015 a ground-breaking partnership MOU was signed between MUT and a Transnet delegation under Herbert’s leadership. “We are here to launch a foundation to ensure that MUT students get jobs; are placed into graduate training programmes; and are prioritised for job placement and internship opportunities at Transnet.  We are here to take MUT from good to great,” he said at the time.

In fulfilling his many leadership roles at Transnet, Herbert has employed no fewer than 20 MUT students per year.  In recognition of his efforts, Herbert was honoured with a “Most Active Alumni” award at the Founders’ Dinner.

Another recipient of this award was Phumlani Kubheka. Way back in 1995, Phumlani was Project Officer in the SRC at MUT. Today he is Project Director for Transnet Capital Projects. Having achieved success at a young age, he is now dedicated to prioritising MUT applicants whenever job opportunities arise in his division at Transnet.  During the first meeting of the MUT Masters, he reiterated the importance of using one’s positions to give back to their alma mater. Thank you for providing work and internship opportunities for MUT graduates, Phumlani.