MUT Co-op Education bids Farewell to JICA

Ms Lindiwe Myende with Azaki-san
Ms Lindiwe Myende with Azaki-san
Ms Lindiwe Myende with Azaki-san

December 2018 sees the close of the JICA EIP project in South Africa.  As such, it was a bitter sweet moment as the MUT Co-operative Education team bid farewell to the Mr Ezaki Hideyukii (Ezaki-san, as the WIL practitioners have come to address him), the JICA Expert that was assigned to help MUT implement the training.

Ezaki-san has been working with MUT since 2014.  He says his mandate was to explore possibilities to implement the EIP within the context of the universities, an element of which was to find ways to implement the training with minimal disruptions to the university timetable. He also says that this forced him to understand the contexts of the different institutions so that he could recommend implementation strategies for each university. At MUT, Ezaki-san worked very closely with Co-operative Education to explore various ways to implement the training within the constraints of the timetable and limited venues. “I am very proud that we have managed to reduce the time period for this training from the initial two weeks workshop to Ninety (90) minute slots training that MUT is currently piloting”, Ezaki-san said. He also remembers, fondly, how he once had to work with 120 students in a very small venue.

For us at MUT, it has been a pleasure to work with Ezaki-san and the entire JICA team.  He had become part of our team. One of our strong memories is that of Ezaki-san working with the MUT team to “unclutter” and prepare the venue that we are currently using for training, when we first acquired it. So committed was he to the successful implementation of the EIP at MUT.

MUT drone project among SASA’s top 10 innovations

Dave's drone at work
Dave’s drone at work

The MUT drone project has been selected by the South African Space Agency as one of its top 10 innovations in the country. The innovative Dave Pons, a lecturer in the Agriculture department, said the drone technology could read real time satellite data.  Dave and IRDCE’s Dr Makhosi Buthelezi are offering an agricultural solution to 17 small holder farmers in Bergville, Midlands, KZN. Dave said the technology would help farmers produce more crops. Dave is combining his expertise with artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate farmers’ crops in real time. “Once the farmers are registered, the drone takes images and electronically stitches them together and geotags the boundaries of each field. AI is used to identify the crop and assign a crop quality index to the field,” said Dave. Dave added that MUT pays a subsidy to farmers which is calculated based on area, crop, and quality; and that the amount was sent to the farmers via SMS. The farmers are then able to purchase agricultural goods at the beginning of the season.  Dave expects that the KZN Agriculture department will roll out this project which is managed by MUT.  Dave is also the inventor of the patented Ceiling in a Can.

Engineering staff team up to assist MUT neighbours

Some of the interlocutors, with Prof Agbola standing against the wall
Some of the interlocutors, with Prof Agbola standing against the wall

During the roundtable discussions that took place on 31 October 2018,  academics from the Engineering faculty decided to combine their expertise to help MUT’s immediate neighbours. They will work towards creating the innovative Human Settlement’s service delivery, with the focus on off-grid water and sanitation innovation, grey water re-use technology, smart sewerage platform and alternative energy supply. Prof Babatunde Bakare, from the Chemical Engineering department said their effort was to support the MUT Human Settlement Chair. “We want to find solutions to the problems faced by communities immediate to MUT,” said Prof Bakare. Joseph Bwapwa, lecturer in the Civil Engineering department, said their efforts would also raise the research profile of MUT and benefit senior students with their research projects. Joseph described the project as a win-win situation.  The project will be supported by the Human Settlement Chair, Prof Babatunde Agbola.  The other members of the team are Dr Kaniki Tumba, Dr Chrispin Mulangu, Prof Theo Haupt, Dr Papi Numbi, and UKZN’s Building Environment staff, Prof Matthew Dayomi.  The roundtable discussion was also attended by the NHBRC.

 

MUT visits Botswana to recruit students

MUT visits Botswana to recruit students
MUT visits Botswana to recruit students

During the presentations to staff, MUT VC, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza informed MUT employees that one of the aspects of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 was to diversify the student population. Although MarComms has been reaching beyond the country’s orders, Dr Malaza’s approach made the team look wider.  On 21-23 October 2018 MarComms team engaged Botswana’s education department officials and parents in Gaborone, in an effort to recruit learners to enrol at MUT. Innocent Dimba, MarComms’ Schools Liaison Officer, said the officials showed great interest in MUT. “The officials said they would like to see their learners venturing out to MUT to earn more knowledge.  They invited MarComms to the next exhibition.” Innocent added that different cultures were part of the diversity. During the presentation at one of Gaborone’s malls, many female learners showed interest in Biomedical Sciences.

 

Great chance for stability to continue as Student Affairs empowers student leadership 

SRC members with some staff during the workshop
SRC members with some staff during the workshop

The recently elected SRC has been given an opportunity to start their tenure from a position of strength, thanks to the Department of Student Affairs’ far-looking vision.

The department ran a three-day induction workshop from 29-31 October 2018 to equip the SRC with the knowledge that will assist them interpret all governance-related issues. Mthoko Ntuli, the Student Development Officer in the department said they wanted the SRC to have a solid idea of how the University was governed. “The purpose of the workshop was to give the SRC a platform to interact with all the departments at MUT. Sometimes problems arose as a result of lack of information. We decided to run the workshop to close the gaps, and make sure everyone understood the other’s stand point. This will empower the student leadership to handle student issues as they will now have substantive knowledge of what happens in the University in general,” said Mthoko.

The President of the SRC, Codesa Gwala, said the workshop was necessary to empower the student leadership to fulfil its mandate. “We are now in a position to deal with issues because we have learnt a lot about how the University operates. We can now add or challenge issues based on the information we have acquired,” said Codesa.

He added that before the workshop they were familiar with a few departments they had to deal with as students. Now they are looking at things from a student leadership perspective, and they are now aware of the realities of what happens at the University. This will assist them to achieve what they promised students during their election campaign. He said a combination of their ideas and the experience of the HODs would result in quality service delivery.