/ 20 September 2013

Achieving greatness through determination

Achieving Greatness Through Determination

Central University of Technology Free State (CUT) has taken the role of education to the next level, delivering a well-structured and inspirational platform from which students can leap into bright futures.

The values and vision of CUT are upheld through robust programmes and consistent excellence in education.

“CUT prides itself in its distinctive programmes that are aimed at capacitating our students for the workplace environment,” says David Makhoali, president of the student representative council at CUT.

“We are uncompromising with change and excellence. We are a cut above the rest in so many ways.”

CUT has done more than just talk about a vision for the future, they have actively engaged in it.

Over the past few months they have seen the approval and accreditation of new academic programmes, new courses in renewable energy solutions and remarkable achievements within research and product development.

The Sustainable Renewable Energy and Design and Studio Art programmes planned for 2014 are the first of its kind in South Africa, and are precisely what the country needs to build a sustainable and healthy economy and environment.

“CUT’s focus on sustainability and, in particular, education for sustainability started in 2010 as part of vision 2020, our goal for the future that is about quality social and technological innovations,” says Mthembu.

“The Solar Flower is the outcome of a well thought-out renewable energies and technologies strategy emanating from this vision.”

The device that emerged from the Solar Flower Project allows staff and students to recharge their devices while on campus, thereby removing reliance on the grid and giving students, who may not have electricity at home, access to power for their devices.

The engineering and information technology programmes offered by CUT have also been recognised as delivering the highest standards of excellence in education and were accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa (Ecsa) in April 2013.

Professor Henk de Jager, deputy vice chancellor for academics, said: “Knowing the engineering fraternity and the low success rate of programme accreditation by Ecsa over the past few years, this is indeed an outstanding achievement for CUT and the best outcome by a university of technology for years.”

This is not the first time that CUT has shown high standards and achieved recognition within a highly competitive environment.

Thanks to CUT’s Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, South Africa will be hosting the 14th international conference on additive manufacturing called “Improving Your World Layer-by-Layer” in October 2013.

The university is one of three to beat 406 applications for a research Chair at the South African Research Chairs Initiative and has also been awarded funding for the next five years in the field of medical product development through additive manufacturing.

In addition to providing research opportunities to the majority of postgraduate students in various fields of engineering, these centres also support the South African manufacturing industry and statutory research bodies in the production of prototypes, final products and production moulds used in additive manufacturing technologies.

The reason behind these awards and accolades is easy to understand in light of the university’s achievements in this demanding field.

CUT recently developed a solution that created pre-operative models of a patient’s skull to assist surgeons in planning complex surgical procedures down to the finest detail.

This advancement has reduced operating times and the chances of complications, such as infection or blood loss.

In addition, CUT has managed to take the financial state of the university from almost empty coffers to a hugely successful investment profile and a 50% rise in revenue.

This increased investment has seen development across infrastructure, programmes and student support, an impressive achievement in economically unfriendly times.

One initiative that has arisen as a result of this is the vice chancellor’s Prestige Scholarships and Bursaries for Student Excellence awards that were created in 2011 to support top students financially and academically.

“The number of students who obtain the bursary grows every year,” says Mthembu. “In 2013 we awarded 121 students with bursaries and will continue to support them in the one way that really makes a difference to their lives and studies, financially.”

CUT has placed a strong emphasis on research within the university that will inspire students and staff to drive change in South Africa and the rest of the world.

The Sustainable Water Resources and Environment Research Group in the department of civil engineering is undertaking research to understand human-environment dynamics and their impact on water resources so as to improve governmental decision making and find solutions to the ever-present water shortage issue.

The staff and students from the faculty of management sciences have not been idle either.

They worked together to publish a book called A Practical Guide to Guest House Management in May 2013, which provides the tourism and hospitality industry with a resource to assist both guest house owners and managers in finding financial and reputational success.

It isn’t all heads down to desks and microscopes and computers.

The CUT Ixias took part in the sixth FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International and went head-to-head with eight of South Africa’s top universities and won the coveted title of Varsity Shield Champions.

This tournament plays a vital role in developing the country’s rugby and 26% of players sign contracts as professionals.

The CUT soccer team has managed in 2012/2013 to secure a place on the South African Football Association second division.

Many of these young athletes potentially have successful football careers as a result.

It is, like everything else at CUT, an achievement that takes students into successful careers and gives them the opportunity to make the most of their lives.