Prof Ramogale pays tribute to 2015-16 student leadership

Prof Glenda Gray addressing graduates and parents during the first ceremony

Prof Ramogale quoted national newspapers that carried screaming headlines that highlighted that MUT was normal while all other institutions were dealing with the fees related problems. This calmness at MUT drew the attention of the national education officials. In an email to Prof Ramogale, Prof Diane Grayson, Director of Institutional Audits at the CHE   commended MUT students for the “maturity, rationality, discipline and understanding” they had demonstrated.

Prof Ramogale said the 2016 class would be given a testimonial that would be an indication of the kind of people they were. They kept calm, focused on their studies, and this led to the continuation of MUT as the leading institution with a good throughput rate, a feat MUT has continued to carry for the past few years. For this reason, Prof Ramogale informed the audience that his office had conceptualised the idea of giving all the Class of 2016 graduates a testimonial that would make it easier for the new graduates to secure jobs. This would be a direct message from executive management laying bare the relationship between them and the graduates.

The graduation ceremonies were dedicated to four esteemed individuals that have made a huge mark in the lives of their country folks and beyond. The Natural Sciences faculty ceremony was dedicated to Prof Glenda Gray, the CEO of the SAMRC, who is one of TIME’s magazine’s top 100 most influential people. The others were Thembinkosi Madikane, MD of Igoda Projects who is also an MUT graduate of the Department of Electrical Engineering, to whom two Engineering faculty ceremonies were dedicated; and Prof Otty Nxumalo, and Dr Reuel Khoza, both for the Faculty of Management Sciences.

N-Gap lecturer graduates

Sithembile collecting her tickets

Out of more than 2000 students that will be graduating next week, there will be Sithembile Nkosi, a nGap lecturer who started lecturing in the Department of Nature Conservation in 2016. The nGAP involves the recruitment of highly capable scholars as new academics, against carefully designed and balanced equity considerations and in light of the disciplinary areas of greatest need. Sithembile will be one of the second cohort of students to graduate with the recently introduced Post-Graduate Diploma in Nature Conservation. A very “delighted” Sithembile picked up her graduation tickets at Department of Marketing and Communications (MarComms) on 3 May 2017. Sithembile is one of the first students that are currently studying towards a Master’s degree in Nature Conservation. MUT is the only University of Technology in the country that offers this qualification.

MUT welcomes a Research Manager in the office of the DVC, Research, Innovation and Engagements

Prof Makhafola

MUT’s attempts at strengthening its academic prowess by empowering its staff are getting better and better. Recently the University hired three research professors. Now MUT welcomes another Professor, Tshepiso Makhafola, as a Research Manager, and Associate Professor. He has a solid academic background. Prof Makhafola, who obtained his PhD (Paraclinical Sciences) from the University of Pretoria, will be overseeing projects in the office of the DVC, Research, Innovation and Engagements, Prof Zodwa Dlamini, particularly the SAMRC-related projects. He has published over 12 peer-reviewed papers in internationally recognised journals. His area of speciality is Phycomedicine. Among other things, Prof Makhafola will research the effects of natural products on delaying different carcinogenic processes, including suppression, reduction or inversion of carcinogenesis.  Prof Makhafola will also be involved in teaching, learning and research in the university’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Over 25 high schools attend Open Day

Learners at the Biomedical Technology stand

MUT continues to strengthen its partnerships with both primary and high schools in an effort to position brand MUT to learners in the region. More than 3000 learners from selected high schools around Umlazi and the greater Durban descended on MUT for the Open Day on 24 to 25 April 2017 at Seme Hall. The purpose of this event was to enlighten learners on programmes offered and to try and close the gap that still exists regarding the importance of applying on time for the right programme relevant to the learners’ school subjects. The event was a collaboration between MUT’s Marketing and Communications and eThekwini Municipality’s office of the Deputy City Manager which was represented by Veena Naidoo.

MUT’s academic and support departments embraced the opportunity to showcase their department programmes and gave the learners valuable information that will determine their future.  The Central Applications Office (CAO) was also present to hammer the message home – apply in time, and via the correct route!  Learners also picked up the application forms at the CAO stand. A 17 year old learner from Welbedene Secondary, Chatswoth, was one of the learners that benefited from being at the event. Collen Sukhran aspires to do ICT.  “I am so happy that I got the opportunity to come to MUT.  I want to be an IT technician.  I want to learn how to develop an App and improve the systems of technology. I learnt that there are different components that make up computers and there are so many opportunities if I study IT.”

Plans underway for MUT to host a Human Settlements’ Conference

The team that had the preliminary discussions at MUT. Maclean is second from left

The Department of Human Settlements (DHS) has sealed a partnership with MUT through the Research, Innovation and Engagements directorate after recently injecting a R3, 5million grant for the DHS Research Chair at MUT. This is not the only investment DHS has resolved to undertake for MUT. A National Human Settlements conference will take place from 5-6 October 2017 at the ICC with MUT as the conference convenor. A DHS team, led by Monwabisi Maclean, accompanied by Prof Sijekula Mbanga from Nelson Mandela University (NMU) held a historic meeting to discuss how the conference could help position MUT’s research and its strength on alternative building technologies to DHS, government and all relevant stakeholders. “The long term goal would be to develop a professional body which will show that research is an important part of DHS. The DHS partnership with universities is based on various niche areas. For example, at UNISA the niche area is public administration, NMMU’s the social sciences, while MUT’s is alternative building technologies. We envisage these niche areas being developed at post graduate qualification level in human settlements for parliamentarians and various professionals. There is ample need for these qualifications,” Maclean said.

For MUT, the highlight of the conference will be the launch of the Human Settlements Chair. The conference hopes to draw various role-players such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and eThekwini Municipality.

I want to assist in closing the gap,– new Engineering faculty Research Professor

Prof Theodore Haupt

MUT has secured the services of who joined MUT as the Research Professor in the Faculty of Engineering. Prof Haupt, got his PhD from the University of Florida, USA and has published 169 peer-reviewed papers in 69 journals. He has written two books and published seven chapters in books.  Prof Haupt’s speciality is Construction safety.  Prof Haupt is a man on a mission. He spotted a gap at MUT and decided he was going to take it as a challenge. “I want to be part of a team that will assist MUT to have a stronger programme qualification mix (PQM), approved by the CHE. The programme must have academic offerings from Pre-Tech to PhD so that MUT will be able to attract students for all levels of study. This will close the gap that is currently existing. But for this to happen, MUT staff must have PhDs so they would be able to supervise Master’s and PhD students. This will bring in a lot of funds to MUT as Master’s and PhD students will write and publish papers,” he said. Prof Haupt is supervising seven MUT staff doing Master’s and two doing PhDs at UKZN. Prof Haupt said he is expecting the gap to close in the next five years.

MUT enhances its international presence

The MUT delegation at the SA Embassy, in Ireland

Prof Zodwa Dlamini’s mission to put MUT in the global map is fast gaining traction. From 8-15 April 2017, Prof Dlamini led a 12-member delegation which included two student leaders to the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Ireland. The delegation discussed areas of collaboration with their DIT peers, and got first-hand experience in a world-class institution. The delegation’s interaction with DIT Management gave it an assurance that the collaboration was going to bear results. “My philosophy is that the starting point for a vibrant research, innovation and engagement environment should be strategic benchmarking at a global level. For 2017, I set my target very high, that the first effort towards this goal should be with a first world country. DIT was happy to work with us. I then set the ball rolling by mobilising funding from an external source and I am grateful that MUT has drawn the attention of funders,” said Prof Dlamini. An MoU is about to be signed and will focus on immunology, mathematical support, data analytics, research capacity building, and innovation. The MoU will assist MUT to access DIT’s strategic partners that MUT would not have been able to access on its own. These are Google, Siemens, Microsoft and other companies usually found in the Forbes 100 list.  The delegation also visited the SA Embassy in Ireland. The Embassy committed itself towards making the partnership with DIT succeed. The student leaders, Vezi Simelane and Sandile Mbonambi, said “The trip was an eye-opener in many fronts. It made us dream bigger for our future and the future of the student body we lead.”

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Annual Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching & Learning Awards feature students

Inaugural winners! Mbongeni, Fisani and Phakamani, with Dr Makua, seated

The 5th annual Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching & Learning Awards that took place last Friday, 7 April 2017, had a new item – Recognition of Student Academic Excellence Awards. Dr Manyane Makua, Senior Director, Teaching and & Learning Development Centre (TLDC), said the reason they decided to include the students in the awards was that students were a reflection of the excellent work by the lecturers. The two are a mirror image of each other.

Three students from the University’s three faculties won cash each, and other prizes for their efforts. The inaugural winners were Phakamsani Thwala, a second year Construction Management & Quantity Surveying student, Fisani Shandu, a second year Marketing student, and Mbongeni Khoza, a second year ICT student. These students were awarded for obtaining over 80% average marks during the last examination, and became the best students in their respective faculties.

The 2017 VC Teaching & Learning Awards winners were: Prof Logan Naidoo, from the HR&M department; Kevin Ramsarghey, from the Accounting department; Nkululeko Damoyi, from the Chemistry department; and Adesoji Jaiyeola, from the Civil Engineering department. All four won silver trophies, cash, and other prizes. Vukile Mgijima, from the Communication department won a bronze trophy, and like others, he received cash, a tablet, and other prizes. All winners will attend the 2017 Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) conference to be held in November, with all expenses paid by the TLDC. The event was graced by Prof Helen Bond from the Howard University, Washington DC, and Prof Mahlapahlapana Themane, from the University of Limpopo. Both professors had been keynote speakers during the annual colloquium that preceded the VC’s awards on 5 and 6 April 2017.

MUT’s TSC contribution to small business impresses Parliamentary Portfolio Committee

From left – Committee member; Prof Zodwa Dlamini, DVC RIE; Xoli Ngubane, TSC Manager; Honourable Maseko; Barlow Manilal, TIA CEO, and TSC technologists at the TSC

The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, Honourable Lindiwe Maseko, MP, hailed MUT’s Technology Station in Chemicals (TSC) when she was leading a delegation that visited MUT on 29 March 2017. Honourable Maseko said: “What we have observed is that TSC is working with ordinary people in an effort to improve their lives and contribute to the economy. This is very impressive. The Department of Higher Education must ensure that there is infrastructure to support the innovation hubs at universities.”  The fact finding visit will assist the Committee to report accurately in Parliament.

Honourable Maseko was bowled over by the attitude of the small business people that are being trained by the TSC. After listening to the presentations, Honourable Maseko said the TSC’s clients were able to do more with what they had, and they had a vision. The TSC’s clients produce a wide range of products, which include detergents, body lotions, and perfumes.

The delegation, which included members of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), who were led by its CEO, Marlow Manilal, did a tour at the TSC, and were more than impressed by the set up.

MUT Enactus leader invited to world summit in Colombia

Nkululeko Msomi

A letter signed by David Jones, co-Founder of One Young World, was a big step towards a dream for one Nkululeko Msomi. The letter reads thus: “This letter serves to confirm that Nkululeko Msomi from South Africa, has been selected as a suitable representative of his country and generation for the One Young World Summit 2017, taking place from 4 – 7 October, Bogota, Colombia.” The organisation’s website says: One Young World is the preeminent global forum for young leaders aged 18-30 and gathers the brightest young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections and develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Nkululeko, a Chemical Engineering student, and a PRO of MUT Enactus, was more than happy when he received this news.  “What I tweeted attracted One Young World’s attention. I have always wanted to get a chance to present sustainable engineering ideas on a global platform.” Nkululeko advocates a better management of the resources without harming the environment. He says innovation is key to what people do. Nkululeko adds that this is a stepping stones to getting involved in UN programmes and the World Economic Forum, which will be in Durban in May 2017.