MUT-LSBU collaborate to give engineering students the entrepreneurial edge

Seated, Pyle, Student Enterprise Manager, LSBU;  Rahimunnessa, Senior Student Enterprise Manager, LSBU;   and Dr Mariam Akinlolu, Project Leader. Standing, are MUT staff, graduates, and Victor Smith of KwaZulu-Natal Master Builders Association, left, at the workshop

On 26 April and 28 April 2022, the MUT staff, some graduates, and members of industry representatives, took part in a workshop conducted by a delegation from the London South Bank University (LSBU).

Syeda Rahimunnessa, Senior Student Enterprise Manager, and her colleague, Amy Pyle, Student Enterprise Manager at LSBU, said the main focus of the workshop was on how to embed enterprise and digital skills in the construction curriculum at the University.

The workshops were part of a collaborative partnership between MUT and the LSBU. Another main player in the partnership is the KwaZulu-Natal Master Builders Association.

“The purpose of the workshop was to develop resilient industry ready graduates with an agency to create their own economic opportunities. The project also aims to tackle unemployment in the construction sector, support innovation and job creation in this sector, and expose students to entrepreneurial thinking and digital skills,” said Syeda Rahimunnessa, Senior Student Enterprise Manager, LSBU.

The project is in response to changes in the education sector and commerce sectors, and the construction sector. These changes call for a relook at the higher education curriculum, and to ask what Dr Manyane Makua, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, called “tough questions”. All the presenters took a cue from Dr Makua, when he said that the time for graduating people that would be job seekers was over. Dr Makua also said the time to interrogate the relevance of the programmes provided to students had come. He said MUT had to strengthen its efforts of changing students’ mind-set to becoming job creators. The University already has a pilot entrepreneurial programme run by the Faculty of Management Sciences.

The two-day workshop was a step towards expanding the programme to the Faculties of Engineering and Natural Sciences. The two-day workshop was mainly aimed at the students in the Department of Civil Engineering.

Commenting on the presentation by the team from LSBU, Ntombifuthi Mthembu, Lecturer in the Department of Human Resources and Management and MUT’s Entrepreneurship Coordinator, said there was alignment between what her department is doing in its programmes and what LSBU was doing.

“We both adopt a practical approach to teaching entrepreneurship. Even though they are coming from the Engineering side, their approach is like ours,” said Mthembu.

The Acting Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, Phakamani Bhengu, said with the right resources in place for implementation purposes, he had no doubt Engineering students would benefit greatly.

He said that was going to assist students in looking beyond being prospective employees upon the completion of their studies but be able to open up businesses in their field of study and provide employment opportunities.