IMG 20200226 WA0017 300x226WSU and the government’s Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) bring to a close a project that has seen WSU bolster its academic profile by increasing research output, developing the curriculum and improving staff qualifications in the institution’s science, engineering and technology faculty.

At the conclusion of the project this year, following three years of persistence and perseverance, 13 of the 27 participants of the programme had progressed far enough to eventually produce research papers that were subject of peer and public scrutiny in a colloquium held at the Potsdam Site recently.

“Central to this initiative was to capacitate and upgrade the academic status of the engineering courses so they can fulfil the requisite standards of DHET. WSU faced a big problem in this regard as many of the lecturers didn’t have the necessary qualifications – many had BTech qualifications whilst very few had masters and PhDs,” said chair of research development for the merSETA project.

Approximately 27 academics from the university’s civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programmes offered at BCC and Butterworth Campus benefitted from a lucrative partnership that saw merSETA injecting funds to the tune of R24 million over the past three years.

Showcasing their academic gains to fellow academics and a local technical high school at the colloquium, the academics traversed a plethora of disciplines and themes under various titles, namely, amongst others:

  • Stress intensity failure rate – Propagators of flexible pavement
  • Machinability of 2205 Duplex Stainless Steel
  • Syngas: A renewable energy source
  • Heat transfer during hot rolling of stainless steel
  • Effects of problem-based learning in higher education electronics course
  • Characterization of mechanically formed AA5754 components

Through his doctoral research, titled “Stress intensity failure rate – Propagators of flexible pavement”, Butterworth Campus mechanical engineering lecturer and PhD student at Central University of Technology, Samuel Abedije, has invented a device for road pavement analysis.

“The proposed system and method models a roadway section by moisture, temperature and traffic load data to simulate the impact of traffic load and environmental conditions on a particular section of a road pavement.”

Traffic data is ingested from a plurality of different external sources to incorporate various approaches estimating traffic characteristics, such as base axle load which is incorporated into a road condition model to analyse pavement conditions on the roadway in order to analyse road condition behaviour and/or predict road performance,” said Abedije.

Visibly impressed with the various presentations, Port Rex Technical High School pupils weighed in on the day’s academic festivities.

“The session was very informative as we got a glimpse of what is expected from us at university level. It however further validated my decision to study megatronics engineering because I want to be a megatronics engineer,” said Lena Matota, a grade 12 learner at the school.

Dr Fourie said plans are afoot to solicit more funds from merSETA to continue with the partnership in order to expand the empowerment of the staff in the engineering courses.