IMG 20190726 WA0029 300x226The resounding success of a three-year R26 million agreement penned by WSU and MerSETA in 2016 to improve teaching and learning in the engineering departments will see the project receive yet another sizeable cash injection.

Thanks to the second agreement being signed recently to expand on the initial pact, a further R39 million will be pumped into WSU’s coffers from 2020 to 2023 in an effort to supplement strides made in the first agreement to enhance research activities, empower academic staff development and enrich and expand academic programme offerings in the engineering courses.

“Because we were able to secure more funding as compared to the previous agreement, we’ll also be aiming at effecting structural reform in the engineering and IT sector by providing skills development training courses to 10 SMMEs and five unemployed youth at a total cost of about R810 000,” said Community Engagement and Internationalization Director Mzolisi Payi.

At the conclusion of the first agreement in December 2019, the staff development efforts of the project saw a total of three lecturers graduating with Masters degrees, whilst two secured their PhDs.

By the end of 2020, a further eight lecturers will be graduating with Masters degrees, and one with a PhD.

“We’ve assisted the staff by paying for their studies at various universities across the country so they can improve their qualifications, whilst also training them as to the processes of undertaking post graduate studies and by supporting them in the writing up of their research papers and dissertations,” said Payi.

The previous agreement also invested heavily in strengthening and developing the engineering departments’ academic programme, with a host of interventions being employed, including undertaking employer and graduate studies on programme desirability and re-curriculation of the National Diploma and BTech programmes for the introduction and offering of HEQSF-compliant Diploma and Advanced Diploma programmes.

“To this end, we’ve prepared and submitted applications for offering of BEngTech (Hons) degrees in engineering, as well as engaged with stakeholders and completed the application for offering MEng degree in engineering,” said Payi.

With regards to the third of the previous agreement’s legs, Research Development, a plethora of workshops were organized for staff to familiarize and train them on concepts such as, amongst others, Proposal Writing; Quantitative Data Manipulation; Qualitative Data Manipulation and Publication writing.

A mammoth R31 million is set to be spent on teaching and learning in the current agreement, including on the acquisition of state-of-the-art research equipment; development of institutional capacity in the application of virtual reality interfaces; and enhancement of institutional capacity in application of simulation software.

Central to the triumph of the project have been three project managers, namely Dr Ferdie Gerber, who was in charge of Academic Programme Development; Dr Stoffel Fourie, who oversaw Research Development, and Dr Anthony Masha, who was charged with overseeing staff development.