/ 18 October 2013

Training for sustainable living

Training For Sustainable Living

The SB13 Southern Africa conference ran from October 15 to 16 2013 and the Central University of Technology (CUT) has played a pivotal role in its development and bringing together some of the greatest minds in the built industry to discuss a resilient and regenerative built environment.

Within the confines of the Cape Town conference centre there are many who have walked the halls of CUT and at least six of those who come from the university have penned paper submissions.

CUT is an institution that believes wholeheartedly in the value of education and the role it plays in building a better future.

With a curriculum that expands over 40 academic programmes, 13 masters and 21 doctoral programmes each year, CUT strives to improve the impact that the institution has on social and technological innovation in the region.

"The conference is about resilience, change and regeneration," says Professor Alfred Ngowi, dean of engineering and information technology.

"These are essential considerations within any long-term built environment strategy, and there is no better way to promote these and to ensure that they are carried through into the future than through a robust and exciting educational programme."

A glimpse into the curriculum on offer by CUT shows plenty of scope for education within the built environment.

Courses range from biomedical technology to renewable energy technologies and civil engineering.

It is the foremost higher education institution in the heartland of South Africa and is dedicated to quality education and training in science, engineering and technology. Since 1990, 34 876 students have graduated from CUT.

Today CUT has expanded to other campuses and online to ensure that students from all backgrounds are given access to a superb education.

A campus of knowledge
"Not everyone has the privilege of studying at the main campus on a full time basis," says Ngowi.

"So we have opened selected learning programmes at CUT's Welkom Campus and Kimberley Regional Learning Centre. The latter offers programmes in conjunction with the Northern Cape Higher Education Institute. In addition, some of our learning programmes can be used via the internet."

CUT ensures that its staff upholds a clearly defined leadership charter to inspire excellence and quality in education and its values are certainly worthwhile.

The university expects its managers to provide vision and direction, to develop and manage the units they are responsible for, develop people and students and engage with internal and external communities.

Those are just some of the tenets outlined in this charter, but the focus on people and growth and community is clear.

This is also not the only conference that CUT is taking part in over the next month, with the 14th Annual International RAPDASA 2013 conference, which takes place toward the end of October 2013.

The conference, titled "AM — Improving your world layer-by-layer" has been designed to offer a showcase to demonstrate cutting-edge work taking place in South Africa across a variety of industries.

AM, or "additive manufacturing", is a technology that has the potential to improve the quality of life and change the country for the better and it is something that CUT is very passionate about.

"Our Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing at CUT specialises in AM and is one of the best equipped of its kind in the southern hemisphere," says Ngowi.

"However, it's not our only centre as the Centre for Built Environment is also on hand to provide a strategic link between the academic programmes and industry."

The Centre for Built Environment offers training and consultancy with the end goal of developing sustainable financial independence, to be able to swiftly react to rapidly changing driving forces identified in engineering and built environment and to focus on sustainable technology and innovation.

Here people will find hands-on training alongside a focus on operational and management support and project monitoring.

"There is also the product development and technology station, which has been funded by the Technology Innovation Agency and supports small medium and micro enterprises in becoming globally competitive," says Ngowi.

"Some of the projects developed on campus include a low-cost hearing aid and a keyboard for disabled users."

In addition there is also the Fablab, which gives learners the opportunity to work with modern manufacturing techniques and technologies so they can produce models of potential innovation.

CUT also aims to gain enough funding to launch a medical device innovation platform at CUT.

A sustainable future
CUT believes in an integrated approach to advancing sustainable development as both an organisational and academic priority.

The sustainable development plan is central to its Vision 2020 objectives, which have been designed to make CUT an isle of innovation that will help to shape the future.

"This will change the way we operate and think and act, both inside and outside of the campus," says Ngowi.

CUT is focusing on four major areas where it will be active in fostering socioeconomic development and the protection of resources and the environment.

These areas include the consumption of energy and resources, organisational support for local and regional organisations, education for sustainable development and engagement in research to support sustainable development.

Today, the conference is another step closer towards a sustainable future within the built environment, and tomorrow will see those who studied at CUT entering the world with all the knowledge they need to successfully keep this vision alive.

This university is going ahead to ensure that the future is filled with people who understand the value of the built environment and its role in ensuring that the environment is protected.

This article forms part of a supplement paid for by the Central University of Technology. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by the institution