Editorial Team Concept, Design & specific Photography - College of ...

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Editorial Team Concept, Design & specific Photography - College of ...

ISBN number 978-1-86840-654-8

Produced by Public Affairs &

Corporate Communications,

University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Tel: 033 260 5808

e-mail: crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

Editorial Team

Professor Dasarath Chetty

Smita Maharaj

Vicky Crookes

Deanne Collins

Concept, Design & specific Photography

Lightship Communications


w w w . u k z n . a c . z a


COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE,

ENGINEERING & SCIENCE

T H E P R E M I E R U N I V E R S I T Y O F A F R I C A N S C H O L A R S H I P


THE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE, ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE is proud of

its contribution to the University, country and region and boasts some of the best teaching

and research facilities on the continent. Researchers in the College lead many national and

international teams, and support from government agencies and international foundations

exceeds R150 million annually.

DURBAN – A SUBTROPICAL SEASIDE UNIVERSITY CITY

The University of KwaZulu-Natal is situated in the

subtropical seaside city of Durban and in the Midlands

city of Pietermaritzburg, capital of the province of

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. With an inviting outdoor

climate KwaZulu-Natal’s two World Heritage sites lure

the explorer. Surf, snorkel or scuba dive in the sea or

hike the majestic Drakensberg mountain range only

two hours away. Go wild game or bird viewing in the

internationally renowned national parks, famous for

the successful conservation of the Black and White

Rhinos. Durban is a city whose local authority has

received numerous awards for their management

of the city. Pietermaritzburg is the seat of provincial

government and is located in the centre of the scenic

KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, close to numerous nature

reserves and parks. The city has a rich architectural

heritage, with many fine examples of Victorian and

Edwardian buildings.

PIETERMARITZBURG – THE MIDLANDS CAPITAL OF KWAZULU-NATAL.

A STONE’S THROW FROM THE DRAKENSBERG WORLD HERITAGE SITE

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Photographs – Cover: Ms Maryann Francis, Professor Graham Jewitt, Professor Mark Laing, Mr Alistair Nixon, Mr Roger O’Neill

Inside cover: Middle – Professor Trevor Hill


A MESSAGE FROM THE DEPUTY VICE-CHANCELLOR

AND HEAD OF COLLEGE

2


PROFESSOR PETE ZACHARIAS

THE UNIVERSITY AND THE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE,

ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and

Science is home to over 7 000 students and approximately 1 200 staff.

The College is committed to equity and excellence and over 24 percent of

the staff and 46 percent of the students are Black Africans. Increasingly,

women are excelling in the College and we are proud that 37 percent of

our staff and students are women. In addition the College attracts students

and staff from around the world. Over eight percent of our students come

from 40 countries around the globe. Nearly 1 500 – 20 percent – of our

students are in Masters or Doctoral studies.

The College comprises two Faculties. The Faculty of Engineering

represents 38 percent of the College, with 2 600 students and nearly

250 staff. The Faculty of Science & Agriculture comprises over 4 300

students and 950 staff.

Both Faculties operate over three campuses at Howard College, Westville

and Pietermaritzburg. The Faculty of Engineering is based at Howard

College. Four of its five Schools operate from here with the remaining

School based on the Pietermaritzburg campus. The Faculty has a

significant research operation at the Westville campus which has unique

facilities for research into high voltage power transmission. These

facilities are available in only three other places in the world, and are

integral components of the Science and Technology Innovation Park at

the Westville campus.

The Faculty of Science & Agriculture is a complex operation delivering

excellent undergraduate and postgraduate programmes on the same three

campuses as Engineering. The operation at the Howard College campus

supports the delivery of training in the basic sciences for Engineering

students, and also offers statistics and computer skills for students in Law

and Humanities. There are 10 Schools in the Faculty, together with the

Centre for Science Access. The School of Geological Sciences operates only

from the Westville campus and the School of Agricultural Sciences and

Agribusiness only from the Pietermaritzburg campus. All other academic

units operate on both Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses, offering a

full range of programmes at all levels.

3

Photograph – Mr Roger O’Neill


The Centre for Science Access was the first on

the African continent and has been in operation

for over 15 years. This programme, which has

served as a blueprint for several universities in

South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, is designed

to facilitate access to degree studies for students

who have had a disadvantaged education that

under-prepared them for university study. This

programme is widely recognised as the premier

science bridging programme. We are extremely

proud of the significant contribution the

programme has made to advancing Black African

scientists and engineers in South Africa.

The Faculty of Engineering’s UNITE programme,

a unique one-year course of study, is specifically

designed to prepare students for the rigorous

demands of the engineering profession. This

programme has a proud record and will celebrate

20 years of its existence in 2008. Our Engineering

students enjoy substantial support from

collaborating industry sponsors.

The Faculty of Science & Agriculture houses a

wide range of sophisticated equipment in the

electron microscopy and imaging units on the

Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses and

in its academic and mechanical instrument

workshops, its specialist scientific glassblowing

unit and its electronic workshops – placing the

College at the cutting edge in respect of research

and teaching equipment and tools. These Units,

as well as those in the Schools of both Faculties,

are staffed by over 500 highly-qualified and skilled

technical and administrative specialists. We also

have a 400 hectare Research and Training Farm

located at Ukulinga, just seven kilometres from the

Pietermaritzburg campus. Apart from some of the

oldest ecological experiments on the continent,

Ukulinga also boasts internationally recognised

research facilities for poultry production.

The College has always maintained a direct link

between teaching and research. Our staff and

postgraduate students consistently produce 40

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Photograph – Professor Graham Jewitt


percent of the University’s research outputs which

drives our teaching strengths. We have several

Research Centres, many of which are recognised

internationally. Their specific achievements are

detailed in this brochure. A number of them

have combined the pursuit and development of

knowledge with community-outreach goals. The

African Centre for Food Security and the Farmer

Support Group have achieved the Southern

African Development Community (SADC) Centre

of Excellence status, as world leaders in the

advancement of human development. Most

disciplines across the College have field trips and

projects that comprise considerable components

of the curriculum, thereby ensuring that our

students learn in real situations under full field

conditions.

national and international teams, and support

from government agencies and international

foundations exceeds R150 million annually.

Our province provides an ideal environment to

study Agriculture, Engineering and Science at one

of the finest universities on the African continent.

Our wide range of research and development skills

and programmes prepare our students for the

lucrative job market or as entrepreneurs! I invite

you to join us or work with us to be part of this

exciting team.

The College is proud of its contribution to the

University, country and region. We boast some

of the best teaching and research facilities on

the continent. Our researchers lead many

PROFESSOR PETE ZACHARIAS

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Photograph – Mr Tony Bruton


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UKZN – THE PREMIER UNIVERSITY OF AFRICAN SCHOLARSHIP


RESPONDING TO UKZN’S VISION, MISSION

AND GOALS

From the classroom and laboratory to the field, the

College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science is

committed to the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s

vision of becoming the Premier University of African

Scholarship. It strives to play a transformational role

in the development of South Africa and the continent

while providing a meaningful contribution to global

knowledge production.

Since its inception in 2004, the College has

accomplished a great deal in its short existence. It fully

embraces the principles and core values of the newly

merged institution and has emerged as an undisputed

leader in the areas of teaching, research and

community outreach. Through its varied activities,

the College focuses its synergies on scholarship at

the highest level, and reflects a commitment to the

University’s seven strategic goals:

GOAL ONE

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING

AND LEARNING

Lecturers in the College are frequent recipients

of the University’s annual Distinguished Teachers’

Awards. Two of the four 2006 awardees are from

the College and one third of all awardees are

current or past staff of the College.

The Centre for Science Access and UNITE are two

of the county’s leading access programmes in

providing educational opportunities to students

from under-prepared backgrounds.

Teaching and Learning within the College is

significantly enhanced by a recent infusion of over

R182 million in new teaching facilities, state-ofthe-art

laboratories and improved equipment.

In 2006, the College excelled in graduating the

highest number of PhD students.

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GOAL TWO

PRE-EMINENCE IN

RESEARCH

GOAL THREE

RESPONSIBLE COMMUNITY

ENGAGEMENT

The College has the highest research output in

the University and produces the most research

publications.

The College boasts a high number of National

Research Foundation rated researchers:

2 ‘A’ (leading international researcher),

28 ‘B’ (internationally acclaimed researcher) and

50 ‘C’ (established researcher) rated researchers.

Of the 18 recipients of the annual Vice-Chancellor’s

Research Award from 1995 to 2007, 10 were

members of the College of Agriculture, Engineering

and Science.

Four of the recently established Department of

Science & Technology and National Research

Foundation National Research Chairs reside within

the College.

There are over 45 well-established research groups

active within the College.

Farmer Support Group, the community

development and outreach division of the Centre

for Environment, Agriculture and Development,

provides scientific knowledge and support to

smallholder farmers. It is a SADC Centre of

Excellence in Community Participation, Appropriate

Technology and Indigenous Knowledge.

The Pollution Research Group, a continental leader

in the area of water and sanitation, collaborates

with the eThekwini Municipality on planning and

policy development.

The Mathematics Support Programme (MSP),

involving staff and students from Mathematics and

Engineering, develops high school learners’ skills

and expertise in Mathematics and the sciences.

The Amagugu Esizwe Maloti-Drakensberg

Transfrontier Project addresses conservation and

community-development issues in six communities

in the northern Drakensberg mountains.

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Photographs – Ms Vicky Crookes, Gijima KZN


GOAL FOUR

AFRICAN LED

GLOBALISATION

The African Centre for Crop Improvement trains

African plant breeders in the applied breeding of

African crops for increased drought tolerance and

improved food security, with the ultimate aim of

alleviating hunger in Africa.

The African Centre for Food Security contributes

towards building and sustaining the critical mass of

African expertise required for effective food security

policy and practice across the continent. It has

been appointed by the African Union and the New

Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as the

lead agency in the food security activities of the

Comprehensive African Agricultural Development

Programme. It is formally recognised as the SADC

Regional Centre of Excellence in Vulnerability

Assessment and Analysis.

The Centre for Environment, Agriculture and

Development’s annual African Leadership

Seminar promotes a people centred approach to

conservation in Africa. It engages high profile

experts, researchers, senior conservation policymakers

and managers from a range of southern

African countries.

GOAL FIVE

INSTITUTION OF CHOICE

FOR STUDENTS

The College offers a wide range of internationally

recognised and accredited degree programmes,

some of which are unique to UKZN. For example,

it offers the only comprehensive Food Security

training programme in the world and the only

African plant breeding programme in Africa. In

addition, UKZN is the only institution in South

Africa to offer a fully accredited Agricultural

(Bioresources) Engineering degree.

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The College boasts the widest constellation of

agricultural and related disciplines (11) of any

university in Africa.

Scholarships and bursaries attract students wanting

to pursue studies in scarce-skilled areas, e.g.

Agriculture and Engineering.

Most of the qualifications within the College are

offered in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, providing

students with a choice of campus.

GOAL SIX

INSTITUTION OF CHOICE

FOR STAFF

College management rewards and acknowledges

commitment, dedication and hard work.

GOAL SEVEN

EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE

MANAGEMENT

Within a year of the College’s existence, an entire

leadership team, comprising a new gender, equity

and age profile, was appointed

Members of the College Management team have

played an integral part in formulating policies,

processes and systems that ensure efficiency and

service-delivery within the University.

10

The College has injected considerable capital into

the creation of world-class physical infrastructure

that promotes academic endeavour and attracts

superior staff. Examples include new buildings for

the Schools of Biological and Conservation Sciences

and Environmental Sciences at Westville and

Pietermaritzburg, respectively.

College staff have made specific contributions to

student management systems that are recognised

as ‘best practice’ nationally.

Many College staff are active and leading members

on a range of University and national bodies.

Photographs – Ms Vicky Crookes, Mr Jean-Louis Janeau, Professor Mark Laing


RESEARCH

Research underpins the College and its varied

activities. It reflects the University’s vision and mission

by being innovative and by applying its efforts to

Africa’s challenges and problems. Success in this area

is indicated by the huge volume of international and

national peer reviewed and rated journal publications

produced annually by researchers within the College.

The following groups, Units and Centres are an

indication of the range of research endeavours actively

pursued by the College:

• African Centre for Crop Improvement

• African Centre for Food Security

• Amarula Elephant Research Programme

• Applied Analysis and Differential Equations

Group

• Applied Physics Group

• Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit

• Atmospheric Research Group

• Bioresources Engineering Research Group

• Centre for African Parrot Conservation

• Centre for Electron Microscopy

• Centre for Environment, Agriculture and

Development (CEAD)

• Centre for Environmental Management

• Centre for Plant Growth and Development

• Centre for Radio Access and Rural Technologies

• Centre for Research in Environmental, Coastal

and Hydrological Engineering (CRECHE)

• Centre of Composite and Smart Materials

• Condensed Matter Group

• Discrete Mathematics & Graph Theory Group

• Fibre-Processing Research Group

• Fluidisation Research Group

• Forestry and Forest Products Research Centre

• High Voltage Alternating Current (AC) Research

Group

• High Voltage Direct Current Centre (HVDC)

• Hydrology Research Group

• Inland Invertebrate Initiative

• Laser Users’ Group

• Marine Research Initiative & Estuarine Research

Programme

• Mechatronics and Robotics Research Group

• Mineral Processing Research Group

• Molecular Biology Unit

• Motion Control Group

• National Wetland Rehabilitation Research

Programme

• Pollution Research Group

• Positional Communication System Unit

• Power System Dynamics Group

• Quantum Research Group

• Science and Technology Education Centre

• Science and Technology Innovation Park

• Signal and Image Processing Group

• Space, Plasma and Atmospheric Research Group

• Sustainable Resources Research Unit

• The KwaZulu-Natal Bioinformatics Node (KBN)

• The Specialised Scientific Computing Unit

(SSCU)

• Theoretical and Computational Physics Group

• The Thermodynamics Research Unit

• Vibration and Research Testing Centre (VRTC)

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Photograph – Mr Tony Bruton


UKZN FACT FILE

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has

international links with over 250 institutions.

The University is rated as one of the top 500 Universities

in the world.

In 2004 the University was rated second highest in terms

of research output in South Africa.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science has the

highest research output within the University and produces

the most research publications.

UKZN has established a Memorandum of Understanding

with the Msunduzi Municipality and the Pietermaritzburg

Chamber of Commerce.

Two of the four lecturers nominated by the University for the

2006 Distinguished Teachers’ Awards come from the College

of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Of the 18 recipients of the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Research

Award, 10 were members of the College of Agriculture,

Engineering and Science.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal possesses the widest

range of Agricultural disciplines (11) at one South African

institution. Of the five areas identified as lacking critical

skills by the National Education and Training Strategy for

Agriculture, four are addressed by programmes within the

College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

These areas are:

• Agricultural Production (plants and animals)

• Agricultural Economics

• Agricultural Development

• Agricultural Engineering

• Veterinary Science

The African Centre for Food Security is the only facility in the

world offering transdisciplinary training and named degrees

in the field of Food Security. It has been appointed by the

African Union and NEPAD as the lead agency in the food

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security activities of the Comprehensive African Agricultural

Development Programme. In addition, it is formally

recognised as the SADC Regional Centre of Excellence in

Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis.

The African Centre for Crop Improvement, established in

2002, trains African plant breeders in sub-saharan Africa in

the applied breeding of African crops using conventional

and biotechnological breeding tools. The Centre receives

support from the Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates

Foundations.

Four of the recently established Department of Science and

Technology and National Research Foundation National

Research Chairs, in Evolutionary Biology and Gravitating

Systems, reside within the College.

An Open Source Software Computer Laboratory, donated

by the Shuttleworth Foundation, identifies the University as

one of the leading tertiary institutions in the adoption and

development of Open Source Software.

The Centre for Science Access and the UNITE Programme

both operate within the College and are leaders in providing

access opportunities to undergraduate students from underprepared

backgrounds.

The Vibration and Research Testing Centre (VRTC), which

conducts research, testing and investigations in the field of

conductor mechanical oscillations, is one of only four such

facilities in the world, and the only one in the southern

hemisphere.

Collaboration between the University and Eskom has

resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

for the development of a Science and Innovation Technology

Park that will be built on the University’s Westville campus.

Photograph – Mr Justin du Toit

In partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, the

Pollution Research Group is working on planning and policy

development in the area of water and sanitation. The

Municipality has agreed to sponsor the project to the tune of

R1 million a year for five years.

UKZN is the only university in South Africa to offer a degree

14


in Agricultural (Bioresources) Engineering that is fully

accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa.

UKZN and The State of Queensland in Australia signed a

Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on joint

resource projects in the area of ‘Modelling Climate Change

and its Impact on Various Aspects of Agriculture’.

The College, in its quest to nurture women scientists, has

established a scholarship programme for high achieving

women students at the undergraduate level. Known

at the Women in Science, Engineering and Agriculture

(WOSA) Prestige Scholarship, it is fully funded by the

Carnegie Corporation of New York and includes a student

enrichment programme.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation has set up a scholarship

and bursary fund for undergraduate students majoring in

one of the disciplines in the School of Agricultural Sciences

and Agribusiness.

The College has recently invested over R182 million in new

teaching and research facilities, state-of-the-art laboratories

and equipment.

A Science and Technology Education Centre is being

established on the Westville campus. It will showcase the

University’s scientific achievements and promote the public

understanding of science, engineering and technology

(PUSET) within the region.

The School of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness and

the UKZN Foundation have established an endowment to

secure the future of agriculture. The proceeds will support

a campaign to market careers in the agricultural sector.

The target for the endowment is R3.5 million.

Photographs – Professor Andrew Kindness, Mr Victor Kongo, Mr Alistair Nixon,

Mr Roger O’Neill, Mr Job Rotich

15


COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE,

DEPUTY VICE-CHANCELLOR and Head of College

DEAN

FACULTY OF SCIENCE & AGRICULTURE

SCHOOL OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES AND

AGRIBUSINESS

Agricultural Economics

Animal & Poultry Science

Community Resources

Crop Science

Dietetics and Human Nutrition

Food Security

Forestry

Horticultural Science

Plant Breeding

School of Biochemistry, Genetics,

Microbiology and Plant Pathology

Biochemistry

Genetics

Microbiology

Plant Pathology

School of Chemistry

Applied Chemistry

Chemical Technology

Chemistry

School of Computer Science

School of Environmental Sciences

Agrometeorology

Geography

Soil Science

School of Geological Sciences

School of Mathematical sciences

School of Biological and

Conservation Sciences

Botany

Cellular Biology

Ecology

Entomology

Environmental Biology

Grassland Science

Marine Biology

Zoology

School of Physics

Applied Physics

Computational Physics

School of Statistics and

Actuarial Science

Actuarial Science

Biometry

Statistics

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Centre for Science Access

BSc4

Science Foundation Programme


ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE

DEAN

FACULTY OF ENGINEERING

COLLEGE ADMINISTRATION

School of Bioresources Engineering and

Environmental Hydrology

School of Chemical Engineering

School of Civil Engineering,

Surveying and CONSTRUCTION

Civil Engineering

property development

Quantity surveying

construction management

Land Surveying (geomatics)

School of Electrical, Electronic and

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering

Electrical Engineering

Electronic Engineering

School of Mechanical Engineering

UNITE Programme

17


SCHOOL OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES AND AGRIBUSINESS

SECURING THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE

18

Based on the Pietermaritzburg campus, the School

of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness (SASA) has,

for almost 60 years, provided agricultural training and

education and engaged in research.

The University boasts the widest range of agricultural

disciplines at one South African institution. Coupled

with its location, on the eastern side of South Africa,

it has a strategic advantage in terms of solving major

problems related to food security and wealth creation

in Africa. Qualifications are continually reviewed and

revised, ensuring they match market demand and the

requirements of professional training.

The School comprises the following disciplines:

Agricultural Economics (including Agribusiness and

Agricultural Management), Animal and Poultry Science,

Community Resources, Crop Science, Dietetics and

Human Nutrition, Food Security, Forestry, Horticultural

Science and Plant Breeding.

Programmes offered by the School are founded in the

pure sciences but possess an applied and practical base,

making an effective contribution to the livelihoods

of target communities. Of the five areas listed by

the National Education and Training Strategy for

Agriculture as lacking critical skills, three are addressed

by the programmes in this School, namely Agricultural

Production, Agricultural Economics and Agricultural

Development.

Postgraduate training is a key area of strength in the

School. Twenty-five percent of current postgraduate

students are from 19 different African countries, which

impacts considerably on capacity development in

Africa. The School has the second highest research

output of the College, with topical and relevant projects

undertaken in the focus areas of Plants, Economic/

Social, Food Security and Animal and Poultry Science.

Photograph - Dr Maxwell Mudhara


Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness is well

connected in terms of partnerships, and staff represent

the School on various international and local scientific

forums, committees and review panels. Community

engagement informs teaching and learning activities

and provides students with ‘hands on’ training.

Ukulinga Research and Training Farm, a 400 hectare

farm situated near the campus, provides an invaluable

resource for all disciplines within the School. It is used

extensively as an “outdoor laboratory” for research and

the training of students. It also includes a sustainable

small-scale farming section.

Programme, the Centre offers undergraduate and

postgraduate training programmes that draw on

the expertise of over 30 scholars from a variety of

disciplines. It possesses a thriving research culture and

works closely with other universities and organisations

to facilitate development and provide policy and

programme support. Recently it won the bid for formal

recognition as the SADC Regional Centre of Excellence

for Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis.

Located within the School, the African Centre for Food

Security contributes to building and sustaining the

critical mass of African expertise required to alleviate

hunger on the continent. Endorsed by NEPAD as

the lead agency in the food security activities of the

Comprehensive African Agricultural Development

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Photographs – Mr James Hartzell, Mrs Marianne Hundley, Mr Alistair Nixon


SCHOOL OF BIOCHEMISTRY, GENETICS, MICROBIOLOGY

AND PLANT PATHOLOGY

The School hosts the African Centre for Crop

Improvement (ACCI), catering for students from all over

Africa. It trains PhD students in the applied breeding

of African crops for increased drought tolerance and

improved food security, with the ultimate aim of

alleviating hunger in Africa. The ACCI enjoys funding

from the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates

Foundations. The Centre collaborates with a wide range

of international organisations and has been adopted by

the World Bank as an education and training model.

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WIDE-RANGING EXPERTISE

The School of Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology

and Plant Pathology comprises 28 academic and

31 support staff across the Pietermaritzburg and

Westville campuses. Research in the four disciplines

yields important insights and practical applications

in medicine, agriculture, industry, education, forensic

science and preserving and sustaining the environment.

Geneticists work with susceptibility to HIV/AIDS,

while Microbiologists improve the quality of life of

South African society by looking at environmental

microbiology and studying drug resistant strains

in human infections. Plant Pathologists study plant

diseases to improve crop yields and reduce diseases

and infections. Biochemists improve diagnostics for

malaria and trypanosomosis, ultimately leading to

the rapid and accurate diagnosis of disease, and the

reduction of morbidity and mortality in humans and

animals.

In an effort to promote access to learning, several

learner related innovations have been established. A

Science Education Research Group (SERG) identifies

student learning, conceptual and visualisation

difficulties, and promotes remedial action. CARD, the

Conceptual and Reasoning Difficulties Resource, caters

for researchers and teachers in science, mathematics

and technology education. The School has developed

courses in scientific communication and research project

communication for training of postgraduate students.

Summary booklets covering core concepts and subject

based terminologies assist second language students.

Computer simulations of experimental projects and

multimedia teaching methods hone student skills and

promote learner-based developments.

The School has a rich post-graduate and research

ethos with over 90 students studying for MSc and PhD

degrees. Research is funded by the European Union

6 th framework, Rockefeller Foundation, South African

Malaria Initiative, South African Medical Research

Council, South African National Research Foundation,

South African National Research Foundation Thuthuka,

South African Water Research Council, South African

Department of Science and Technology, and the

Protein Research Foundation. PhD graduates have

obtained positions at the Universities of Cambridge

(UK), Imperial (UK), Yale (USA), Georgia (USA), Jiessen

(Germany) and Monash (Australia). Collaborations are

in place with scientists in Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda,

Portugal, Scotland, France, Venezuela, Australia,

Germany, Belgium, Holland and the United States.

Photographs - Mr Ikechukwu Achilonu, Professor Walter de Milliano


SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL AND CONSERVATION SCIENCES

RISING TO THE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION CHALLENGE

Established in January 2005, the School of Biological

& Conservation Sciences represents the largest School

in the Faculty of Science & Agriculture and the largest

such school in South Africa. It has over 50 academic

staff and operates across three campuses, based at

Durban, Westville and Pietermaritzburg. Students have

access to excellent facilities, resources and staff, as well

as a broad range of curriculum options in the School’s

strategic foci, notably terrestrial ecology, conservation

biology, cellular biology, physiology and marine

biology.

BSc students may choose a focused Programme

(Biological Sciences or Ecological Sciences, each with

more than one stream) which offers some flexibility

in choice of modules. Alternatively, they may opt for a

general BSc degree, with one major from the Biological

Sciences (Botany, Cellular Biology, Entomology,

Environmental Biology, Grassland Science, Marine

Biology or Zoology) and one from a discipline outside

the School. Students may also pursue a BSc Agriculture

programme in Grassland Science. In addition, a BSc

Honours programme, coursework and research MSc

programmes, as well as PhD training, is offered.

The School of Biological and Conservation Sciences

produces the most research publications within the

University and includes several staff with National

Research Foundation (NRF) ratings in various

disciplines. One of the recently established DST/NRF

National Research Chairs (in Evolutionary Biology)

currently resides in the School. The research ethos

21

Photograph – Mr Roger O’Neill


22

of the School is reflected in the large postgraduate

component, comprising 40 Honours, 105 Masters

and 79 Doctoral students in early 2007. Projects are

supported by several research centres and units that

are housed in the School, notably the Centre for Plant

Growth & Development, Inland Invertebrate Initiative,

Pollution Research Group, Amarula Elephant Research

Programme, and the Research Centre for African Parrot

Conservation.

The School provides several facilities that enable the

local community to engage in the scientific experience,

including the University Botanical Garden, Herbaria,

and the SF Bush Zoological Museum. In addition,

School research projects often involve participation by

local communities, as in surveys of endangered fauna

and flora, lion and elephant monitoring and communal

grazing management.

The School collaborates with both national (SA

Sugar Research Institute, Natal Museum, eThekwini

Natural Science Museum) and international partners

on research programmes such as Darwin Initiative

projects aimed at establishing a cryobanking service

for plant genetic resources for sub-Saharan Africa, or

building capacity to reduce South Africa’s illegal trade,

particularly in endangered birds, through forensic

application of genetics.

Photographs – Ms Vicky Crookes, Dr Dave Druce, Mr Justin du Toit


SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY

A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL PLAYER

Combining a tradition of excellence stretching back to

1910 and a recent investment of R80 million in state-ofthe-art

infrastructure and instrumentation, the School

of Chemistry is a major international player in research

and teaching.

With 35 academics, 52 technical and administrative

staff and a postgraduate school of over 100 students,

the School of Chemistry is now the largest research

Centre of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, and one of the

best resourced. In terms of nuclear magnetic resonance

(NMR), it boasts two high field (600 and 500 MHz) and

two medium field (400 MHz) spectrometers, facilitating

investigation into materials that are separated from

plants, compounds synthesised in the laboratory and

industrial substances. Alongside the NMR arsenal there

are state-of-the-art mass spectrometry (LC-MS and GC-

MS) and X-ray diffraction facilities that give the School

an important technological edge in research.

The two operating Centres of the School, Westville and

Pietermaritzburg, complement each other. The much

larger Westville Centre feeds off the energy generated

by the huge expansion of chemical-related business in

the Durban area. The Pietermaritzburg Centre accounts

for about 30% of the School and operates on a quieter,

more intimate, level. Both Centres, however, adopt

the same holistic approach to teaching and research in

which every student, from first year onwards, is treated

as a prospective postgraduate. Each Centre also runs

a programme geared towards improving student

understanding of the academic-industrial interface.

Chemical Technology in Pietermaritzburg and Applied

Chemistry in Westville receive substantial support from

industrial partners and sponsors.

The School has an active research profile in the four key

areas of Chemistry: Analytical and Chemical Technology,

Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Physical

Chemistry. In several of these research areas, staff

have formed groups or teams of researchers in order to

achieve the appropriate critical mass of expertise. This

ensures thriving research projects, acceptable levels

of funding, and good nuclei of postgraduate students

within each branch of chemistry.

Research reflects innovation and a strong commitment

to social and environmental issues. Focus areas include

African Medicinal Chemistry; the synthesis of new

compounds which are potential anti-malarial drugs,

more efficient sunscreens, and catalysts for important

industrial processes; safeguarding the environment by

detecting heavy metal and pesticide pollution, and

planning suitable clean-up procedures using the most

modern analytical instrumentation. Chemistry’s future

lies in producing a top-class workforce for the chemical

industry, collaborating internationally and generating

quality research.

23

Photograph – Ms Vicky Crookes


SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE

these include: image processing and computer vision,

artificial intelligence, simulation and modelling,

bioinformatics and graphics. Research projects are

significantly strengthened through collaboration and

partnerships with well known organisations such as

the KwaZulu-Natal Sugar Industry, where simulation is

used to model the supply chain system; ThoroughTec,

who employ students to create real-time simulations

of heavy equipment; the Shuttleworth Foundation and

the National Defence Force.

Image processing and Computer Vision are vital

components of modern security systems. Researchers

in the School are involved in the construction of

systems that track movement and detect threatening

gestures. Genetic Programming and Neural Networks

are other areas of expertise where applications range

from chemical process tuning to feature classification.

The School of Computer Science has been awarded

a research grant from the National Bioinformatics

Network to set up and run a local Bioinformatics node

of the national network. This operation takes place on

the Pietermaritzburg Life Sciences campus.

24

A FOCUS ON PROGRAMMING

The School of Computer Science produces graduates

that are highly sought after by KwaZulu-Natal based

companies and national employers. With a focus

on programming, the School offers general Science

degrees and more focussed programmes that provide

exposure to commercial information systems as well

as the scientific and intensive programming aspects of

Computer Science.

Academic staff and students engage in a wide variety

of research endeavours that cover both theoretical

and applied areas of Computer Science. Some of

The School prides itself on its computing resources,

designed for one-on-one interaction between staff

and students and managed by experienced teams of

technical support staff.

The Shuttleworth Foundation, recognising the

University as one of the leading tertiary institutions

in the adoption and development of Open Source

Software, has donated a R1 million Open Source

Software Computer Laboratory. This facility boasts 100

machines that run on the Linux operating system. It

has already been utilised by over 3 000 students across

a broad spectrum of disciplines. Open Source Software

is an effective way of generating knowledge, adding

economic value and delivering on skills development

and transformation.

Photograph – Mr Asok Rajh


SCHOOL OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

ADDRESSING OUR GREATEST

GLOBAL CHALLENGE

The School of Environmental Sciences is driven by

the mission to excel in teaching and research, and to

critically engage with all levels of society, to achieve

equity and respond to environmental challenges. The

School comprises the disciplines of Geography, Soil

Science and Agrometerology, and offers undergraduate

and postgraduate programmes in Rural Resource

Management and Agricultural Extension.

Research activities in the School reflect a strong

partnership approach. Nationally, a research

agreement has been signed with the Department of

Agriculture and Environmental Affairs for the purpose

of investigating the use of different remote sensors and

techniques to identify, map and monitor some of the

major current and emergent invasive alien plant species

in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Department of Land Affairs

has funded a baseline study for the implementation

of the Communal Land Rights Act. Internationally,

the School is collaborating with the Open University

and the London School of Economics in a project on

“Democracy in Durban”, funded by Leverhulme Trust,

while a co-operative project with the Vrije Universiteit

in the Netherlands is investigating the impact on farm

dwellers’ livelihoods of the growing trend in KwaZulu-

Natal’s commercial farming sector of moving towards

wildlife-based forms of production.

The School includes the Centre for Environment,

Agriculture and Development (CEAD), the product of a

merger of three other Centres: the Centre for Environment

and Development, the Centre for Rural Development

Systems and the Farmer Support Group. The focus of

this new Centre is on the dynamic interaction of human

and natural systems. It offers a broad range of services

in teaching (postgraduate programmes in Environmental

Management, Protected Area Management and Land

Information Management), research, and community

development aimed at producing qualified professionals,

delivering knowledge and improving human resources

at grass-roots level.

Community initiatives form a central focus of the

School of Environmental Sciences. Staff have been

interacting with scholars from previously disadvantaged

backgrounds in an attempt to raise awareness of the

plight of the environment. Regular GIS short courses

conducted by the School serve to re-skill practitioners

in this important area of research. A successful

“Tropospheric Ozone over Africa” workshop attracted

African, European and American delegates and

highlighted the importance of Africa as a continent in

the tropospheric ozone budget.

25

Photographs – Professor Trevor Hill, Professor Mike Savage


SCHOOL OF GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES

COMPREHENSIVE RANGE OF MODULES

26

The School of Geological Sciences is the second largest

University-based Geoscience Unit in South Africa. It is

the only academic unit in Africa that offers Engineering

Geology as a qualification at both undergraduate and

post-graduate level.

Cognisant that Geology is an integral and essential part

of the mainstream economy of South Africa and its

neighbouring states, the School offers a comprehensive

range of under-graduate and postgraduate modules

covering all sub-disciplines of Geology. Although

historically a male-dominated field, the discipline has

seen a dramatic change over the past seven years.

Currently more than half the student population is

female. The student profile is also racially representative

of South Africa, with over 60% of the undergraduate

student population from the Black African group.

Graduates from the School play an important role in the

utilisation and management of the natural resources

of the country and the region. They are sought after

in sectors such as Mining and Mineral Exploration,

Minerals Research, Engineering Geology, Geotechnical

Engineering, Government and Academia.

Outreach and community interaction are pursued

diligently by the Geology Education Museum, located

on the Westville campus. This unit engages in a number

of activities aimed at educating the youth and instilling

in them an interest and passion for science.

Staff members are involved in a number of research

projects, all aimed at enhancing understanding of the

way the earth works now and in the geological past.

Research encompasses the fields of Environmental

and Engineering Geology, Petrology, Geochemistry,

Structural Geology, Marine and Coastal Geology, Ore

and Mining Geology and Tectonics. The School has a

close association with the Marine Geoscience Unit of

the Council for Geoscience with which it is involved

in offshore investigations around the coast of southern

Africa and further afield.

Staff members have mutually beneficial links with

a number of national and international institutions

and with industry e.g. University of Cape Town,

University of Johannesburg, Rhodes University,

University of the Witwatersrand, Australian National

University, University of Canterbury (NZ), James Cooke

University (Australia), University of Lund (Sweden),

University of Mainz (Germany), University of Nice-

Sophia Antipolis (France), University of Paris XI, Ruhr

University (Germany), University of Ulster (Ireland),

Chinese Academy of Sciences, US Geological Survey,

Woods Hole Institute (USA), Richards Bay Minerals and

Angloplatinum.

Photographs – Professor Colin Jermy, Mr Wade Kidwell, Dr Tanja Reinhardt


SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES

MAKING SCIENCE COUNT

The School of Mathematical Sciences, with over 50

permanent members of academic staff, is the largest

in South Africa. It offers a comprehensive list of

undergraduate modules ranging from service courses

for engineering, economics and management to

general mathematics courses for science and agriculture,

as well as highly specialised ones for mathematics

students. At postgraduate level strong fields of supervision

are Cosmology and Astrophysics, Applied Analysis and

Differential Equations, and Discrete Mathematics.

The School has an outstanding research profile. Over

the last few years more than 20% of South Africa’s total

research output in Mathematics has emanated from

the University’s School of Mathematical Sciences. In

addition, five members of staff feature among the 10

most prolific South African mathematicians.

The Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, the

largest research unit within the School, has strong links

to the South African Large Telescope (SALT) and the

South African Astronomical Observatory. The Unit is

engaged in the Southern Cosmology Survey (SCS),

which is a leading international scientific collaboration

between UKZN and institutions in the United States

(Princeton, Pennsylvania, Rutgers) and Chile (Catolica).

The group is also involved in research agreements with

Lesotho and India.

Staff active in the Applied Analysis and Differential

Equations Group investigate models emanating from

Epidemiology, Mathematical Finance, Mathematical

Biology and Engineering, using various methods.

Several bilateral international agreements exist with

organisations such as the National Research Foundation

(NRF) - Royal Society and the NRF-Polish Academy of

Science.

Discrete Mathematics deals with a modern aspect

of Mathematics that has a significant impact on

applications in the fields of science and engineering,

e.g. computer science, telecommunications information

security, and operations research. Three members of the

Discrete Mathematics Group are NRF ‘B’ rated scientists,

making it one of the strongest research groups of its

kind in South Africa. The group has well established

research links with prominent universities all over the

world, including Carnegie Mellon University, Vanderbilt

University, University of Montreal, Warwick University

and University of Birmingham.

The popularisation of Mathematics is a key focus of the

School’s outreach programmes. Activities are geared

towards upgrading the skills and knowledge base of

learners and teachers within the KwaZulu-Natal region,

with particular emphasis on rural areas.

27


SCHOOL OF PHYSICS

28

VIBRANT PROGRAMMES

With over 30 academic staff, the School of Physics

offers vibrant teaching and research programmes

specifically designed to meet the current needs and

challenges of the country. The undergraduate teaching

facilities on the Westville campus are the most modern

in South Africa, owing to a R12 million expenditure on

infrastructural changes.

The School offers a Physics major under the general

BSc degree at both of its centres, as well as additional

focused programmes. The Applied Physics Programme,

offered on the Westville campus, is designed to bridge

the gap between the pure scientist and the engineer,

incorporating exciting applications in the fields of

energy generation, nuclear technologies, medical

physics and remote sensing. The Computational

Physics Programme, on the Pietermaritzburg campus,

focuses on the use of computer technology to model

physical systems and real-world problems.

The leading research programme in the School is the

Quantum Research Group, with its primary thrust in

quantum computing and cryptography. This effort has

been bolstered by a large grant from the Innovation Fund

and a number of international bilateral collaborations.

The Theoretical and Computational Physics Group

conducts research in areas ranging from fundamental

quantum mechanics to computational modelling of

materials. It has received a major boost through the

School’s hosting of the Regional node of the National

Institute for Theoretical Physics, which aims to build

a strong theoretical physics base in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Applied Physics Group is committed to research

in image processing techniques and solar-thermal

systems as alternate renewable energy sources. This

group benefits from a Solar-Sterling Collector, donated

by Eskom, as well as funding from the Norwegian

Council of Universities’ Committee for Development

Research and Education (NUFU).

Other research groups within the School that enjoy

strong international collaborations include the Space,

Plasma and Atmospheric Research Group, the Laser

Users Group, and the Condensed Matter Group.

Community outreach programmes focus on utilising

the School’s teaching and research expertise to inform,

educate and uplift the general community, in particular,

disadvantaged groups. Its flagship programme, “Be a

Physicist for a Week”, exposes Grade eleven learners to

the typical life of a research physicist in South Africa.

Concerted effort is made to ensure that female learners

form part of this programme.

Staff at the School regularly participate in workshops

with physical science teachers in order to contribute

to training in the new Further Education and Training

(FET) Curriculum.

Photographs – Mr Bhekani Dlamini, Mr Pieter Wolmarans


SCHOOL OF STATISTICS AND ACTUARIAL SCIENCE

A P R E M I E R C E N T R E

The School of Statistics and Actuarial Science is one

of the premier centres in Africa for the delivery of

quality education, research and service in the statistical

sciences. It comprises the disciplines of Actuarial

Science, Biometry and Statistics.

Well-developed undergraduate Statistics and Biometry

programmes equip students for a competitive market

place. Graduates in these fields have excellent

employment opportunities and are snapped up by

organisations in the business and banking sector,

industry, research and academia.

UKZN is the only institution in the province to offer a

degree in Actuarial Science. The main objective of this

programme is to build a solid foundation in actuarial

techniques with a special emphasis on the financial/

investment component. A fully-fledged Honours

Programme in Financial Mathematics provides the

skills required to operate at the cutting-edge of today’s

sophisticated and increasingly complex financial

markets.

Conscious that the discipline of Statistics is a scarce

skill within South African society, the School is

committed to capacity building within communities

and schools. A statistical consulting service provides

members of the public and researchers with advice and

assistance on statistical matters. Staff participate in

an active campaign with the South African Statistical

Association’s Education Committee whose main focus

is to upgrade teachers’ skills by writing notes and

workbooks, running workshops, presenting seminars

and visiting rural schools to provide motivation and

assistance. UKZN is the only university in South Africa

that runs a series of workshops on the statistics content

of the new school syllabus each year.

Collaborative initiatives include a Memorandum of

Understanding with the Centre for the Aids Programme

of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and a research/

collaborative agreement with SAPPI. These joint

ventures also provide rich sources of research topics

for staff and postgraduate students. Communication

regarding future collaboration between the School and

the Medical Research Council is underway.

29


THE CENTRE FOR SCIENCE ACCESS

A RICH LEGACY

The Centre for Science Access (CSA) is located in the

Faculty of Science and Agriculture and is one of the

University’s key mechanisms for redressing inequities

in the natural and physical sciences. The Centre

caters for students from disadvantaged schools who

have the potential to succeed, but lack the necessary

entry requirements and preparation to gain automatic

admission into science-based degrees.

The CSA comprises two programmes that have long and

distinguished histories of helping learners achieve their

true potential: the BSc4 Programme, with two streams

– BSc4 (Augmented) and BSc4 (Foundation) – and the

Science Foundation Programme (SFP). In addition to

academic subjects and skills, these programmes place

particular emphasis on developing the life skills of

students, providing a solid foundation for their future

studies.

The BSc4 Programme targets learners with matriculation

exemption who fall marginally short of

Faculty entrance requirements. These students take

on a reduced load of first-year modules coupled with

additional tutorials, practicals and a language course.

Their first year of study is spread over two years,

resulting in a four-year, as opposed to a three-year,

science degree. The SFP is aimed at learners whose

matriculation performance is well below the Faculty’s

entrance requirements and offers them a full year of

foundational pre-university modules. These include

subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics,

Physics and Scientific Communication.

Following successful completion of the first access

year, the majority of students pursue degrees offered

by the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, while some

move to other scientific fields, such as engineering and

medicine. The Centre has already produced over 700

graduates in these combined fields.

The Centre for Science Access not only provides

opportunities for a generation of South Africans whose

education might have ended at secondary school level,

but also contributes to addressing key national needs

in the sciences.

30

Photograph – Mr Roger O’Neill


SCHOOL OF BIORESOURCES ENGINEERING AND

ENVIRONMENTAL HYDROLOGY

C R E A T I N G L I V I N G S O L U T I O N S F O R

THE 21 ST CENTURY

The School of Bioresources Engineering and

Environmental Hydrology, situated on the

Pietermaritzburg campus, enjoys an international

reputation for teaching and research and offers both

undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Agricultural

(Bioresources) Engineering and Hydrology. UKZN is

the only university in South Africa to offer a degree in

Agricultural (Bioresources) Engineering which is fully

accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa.

Cognisant of the ever increasing demand for engineers

who care for and possess the skills and experience to

work with our biological resources, the School focuses on

creating living solutions for the 21 st century. Teaching

and research activities in Bioresources Engineering

go well beyond farm boundaries; they include water

resources management, forestry, mining rehabilitation,

machinery design, food processing, transport, irrigation

design and management, controlled environments and

animal husbandry.

A leader in the area of hydrology and hydrological

research, the School possesses the largest and oldest

Hydrology academic programme in the country.

The Hydrological Research Group is also the largest

university group of its kind in South Africa, enjoying

local and international funding.

World class facilities complement the School’s excellent

research and teaching programmes. Ukulinga Research

and Training Farm houses a workshop, computer

controlled engine test bay and control room, as well

as a soil and water laboratory. On campus, unique

hydrological tests are conducted in the Soil Physics

Laboratory.

Research conducted by staff and students is driven

by industrial and agricultural challenges. It seeks to

develop innovative tools and solutions for technological

advancements and sustainable environmental

management. This is clearly reflected in some of

the work conducted by postgraduate students. The

refinement of a vehicle scheduling system developed

by staff and postgraduate students is already estimated

to be saving the sugarcane industry millions of rands.

Another invention, a semi-mechanised sugarcane cutter,

has been developed in conjunction with the South

African Sugar Research Institute. Research in hydrology

focuses on the improved understanding and modelling

of hydrological processes, as well as the development

of software tools that assist with the implementation of

the National Water Act and the management of South

Africa’s water resources.

The School’s mission is to continue producing

environmentally conscious graduates with the necessary

management and development skills, enabling them to

utilise, process and manage our valuable resources in

an effective and sustainable manner.

31

Photograph – Ms Vicky Crookes, Mr Joe Spencer


SCHOOL OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

32

E X T E N S I V E T E A C H I N G A N D

RESEARCH COMPETENCE

The School of Chemical Engineering is the largest in

South Africa. The Chemical Engineering programme

is fully accredited by the Engineering Council of

South Africa and internationally under the Washington

Accord. The dynamic four-year undergraduate

programme shifts progressively from fundamental

science at the start, to applied science and engineering

at the end. Final year students are exposed to reactor

technology, distillation and biochemical engineering,

as well as major laboratory and design projects.

Access to top-quality facilities where students gain

hands-on experience is an essential component of the

learning process. Facilities include a well equipped

workshop with excellent technicians, state-of-the-art

laboratories for thermodynamics and instrumental

analysis, and pilot plants for gasification, mineral

processing, distillation, pyrolysis and reverse osmosis.

A full range of analytical equipment complements

these resources, providing critical tools for research

and analysis.

Focused research groups with close industry ties

reflect a commitment to sustainable development,

environmental conservation and social responsibility.

The Bioprocessing and Chemurgy Group was recently

awarded the SAIChE Gold Medal for innovation. The

team designed and patented the Suprayield process

for the low-cost, environmentally friendly commercial

production of furfural – a pesticide, plastics precursor

and industrial chemical made from renewable

resources.

Integral to the School of Chemical Engineering is the

Pollution Research Group. Formed in 1970, it applies

process and biochemical engineering principles to

industrial problems. This professional group undertakes

contract research and supervises postgraduate

students in a number of fields, including cleaner

production, wastewater treatment and computational

fluid dynamics. It is an active member of a number

of noteworthy organisations and agencies. Some of

these include the National Water Advisory Committee,

a United Nations environmental programme to

promote sustainable consumption and production in

the brewing industry, as well as a secondment to the

South African Water Sector Tsunami Relief Programme

for the Maldives (sanitation policy development).

The Pollution Research Group has been instrumental

in establishing the UKZN eThekwini Municipality

partnership. An agreement has been signed whereby

the Municipality will provide financial support for

planning and development in the area of water and

sanitation. The Group will receive R1 million a year for

five years towards this project.


SCHOOL OF CIVIL ENGINEERING, SURVEYING AND CONSTRUCTION

S O L U T I O N S F O R T H E A F R I C A N

CONTINENT

The School of Civil Engineering, Surveying and

Construction comprises programmes in Civil Engineering,

Property Development with postgraduate options in

Quantity Surveying and Construction Management, and

Land Surveying. Each programme is designed to produce

graduates capable of competing in the international

arena as well as providing solutions to both unique and

routine problems on the African continent.

Areas of expertise in the Civil Engineering Programme

include structural engineering and design, geotechnical

engineering, environmental engineering

and environmental fluid dynamics. Water and

environmental issues are an area of strength and form

the predominant focus of the research conducted

within the discipline. The Centre for Research in

Environmental, Coastal and Hydrological Engineering

(CRECHE), an active group that promotes sustainable

practice, deals with the interaction between engineering

and the natural environment. Current active

projects include the management of landfill emissions,

the dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere and

coastal waters, spatial rainfall modelling and estuary biohydrodynamics.

UKZN is one of only two universities in the country to

offer a fully accredited BSc degree in Land Surveying.

Staff contribute significantly to the community by

undertaking contract research work and consultancy.

Tourism within the province has benefited considerably

as a result of their projects. Some of these include the

development of a GIS database of potential sites in the

Cato Manor area, and the mapping of tour routes for

proposed tours in the Durban metro area.

A highly successful rock art mapping project has placed

the discipline of Land Surveying on the map. With the

assistance of funding from Lotto, a web-based GIS spatial

database of 3D geometric and colour images of the rock

art paintings of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains

World Heritage Park has been established.

A new three-year BSc in Property Development provides

students with the technical competence to understand

the factors which influence the design form, procurement

process and production of buildings and civil engineering

structures.

Students seeking to hone their skills and specialise in

a specific area have the option of continuing with a

one-year Honours degree, majoring in either Quantity

Surveying or Construction Management. Both these

programmes are accredited by The Royal Institution of

Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the South African Council

of Quantity Surveyors (SACQS). Recently, a course work

Masters Programme, a vitally important contributor

to meeting the continuing professional development

needs of construction/property professionals, has been

established.

33

Photograph - Mr Carl Grossman


SCHOOL OF ELECTRICAL, ELECTRONIC AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING

34

C O N T I N U O U S A N D R A P I D G R O W T H

The School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer

Engineering is the largest School in the Faculty of

Engineering, offering three related programmes

designed to cater for the varied needs of undergraduate

and postgraduate students, as well as the engineering

profession. The disciplines of Electrical, Electronic and

Computer Engineering are in a state of continuous and

rapid growth. Recognising the challenge of teaching

in such an environment, the central philosophy of the

School is to ensure that students gain an enduring

capacity for continuous and effective self-education

throughout life.

Electrical Engineering deals with the critical industry of

power generation, transmission and power utilisation.

Students are exposed to the theory and practices of

this diverse field and work with anything from large

power generation facilities to microcomputer based

systems.

Electronic Engineering is related to the vast discipline of

electronic information processing and distribution. This

discipline includes all aspects of telecommunications,

the design of microcomputer systems, signal and image

processing and electronic hardware design.

Computer Engineering is concerned with the use of

computer systems in the management, control and

dissemination of information. Students specialise in

the fields of networking, and hardware and software

design for computer and embedded systems.

Research activities within the School are grouped

according to areas of specialisation and are driven by

active and well established research groups. Some of

these areas include: High Voltage Engineering, Power

Systems, Machines and Drives, Control, Digital Systems,

Communications, Signal and Image Processing and

Materials Science. State-of-the-art research-focused

laboratories and equipment are maintained, calibrated

and upgraded on a continuous basis. Research groups

maintain close ties with industry and collaborate on

issues of technological advancement and change.

The School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer

Engineering secures consulting work and research

funding from a large number of industrial partners

including Siemens, Telkom, Alcatel-Lucent, Armscor,

Tongaat-Hulett, South African Breweries and Sappi.

Acutely aware of the need for profession engineers

to keep abreast of the technological advances in

the electrical sciences, the disciplines within the

school regularly run customised courses for specific

industries.

Photograph – Mr Anandhan Naidoo


SCHOOL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

REINFORCING INNOVATION

The School of Mechanical Engineering makes a

significant contribution to industry and engineering

science through its teaching programmes and its well

established research centres.

Teaching focuses on fundamental engineering

science principles and their practical applications.

This is reinforced by innovative laboratory work and

experiments. Computer aided design and analytical

tools are used in problem solving and engineering

analysis. The final year curriculum, which is design

focused, requires students to address present day

industrial problems culminating in a comprehensive

engineering project.

Students’ final year design projects bring the School and

the University international exposure and recognition.

Africa’s first solar car was designed and manufactured

by students and staff in the School of Mechanical

Engineering. Built from aluminium and composite

materials, the car uses solar cells to absorb energy from

the sun and charge lead acid batteries that provide the

power to drive the car. Although the main objective of

the design team is to compete in the World Solar Car

Challenge in Australia, a key aim is to draw attention to

alternate transport technologies.

Photograph – Ms Maryann Francis

The Vibration and Research Testing Centre (VRTC), a

world-class laboratory that conducts research, testing

and investigations in the field of conductor mechanical

oscillations, enjoys support from Eskom and the

Department of Trade and Industry. It is one of only

four such facilities in the world, and the only one in the

southern hemisphere. The VRTC plays a vital role in

South Africa’s manufacturing sector because producers

of vibration control devices have no local means of

testing and researching products.

The Mechatronics and Robotics Research Group

provides a state-of-the-art research and education

environment for its senior undergraduate and

postgraduate students. It collaborates with national and

international universities as well as providing practical

solutions to local industry problems. Research includes

the development of new theories and methods in

Computer Integrated Manufacturing, encompassing

the fields of Mechatronics and Robotics.

The internationally recognised Centre of Composite

and Smart Materials and Structures is at the forefront of

innovation and technology. One of its inventions, the

smart bolt, is an innovative way to measure the stresses

and loads placed on a structure. This invention could

benefit the mining industry by keeping more accurate

logs on the structural integrity of mines. It is cost

effective, simple to implement and has real potential

to save lives.

35


UNITE PROGRAMME

B R I D G I N G T H E G A P

The UNITE Alternate Access Programme originated as

a partnership between industry and the University to

enhance the success of Black engineering students.

It addresses two key imperatives: advancing the

University’s goal of promoting access to learning for

historically disadvantaged members of South African

society; and creating an enabling academic and

professional platform by providing sound academic

training in engineering sciences and organisational life

skills.

UNITE applies a dynamic and proactive methodology

to learning and teaching. The academic curriculum is

holistic and designed to lay solid foundations in the

engineering sciences in preparation for the mainstream

syllabus. The curriculum is presented through

mixed-mode delivery, consisting of formal lectures

supplemented by intensive small group tutorials.

Applied projects bridge the gap between theory

and practice. Students enjoy close interaction with

lecturers, tutors and residence mentors. Professional

awareness is complemented by vacation site work and

industry visits.

Community initiatives are a core focus of the programme.

These activities range from on-campus career talks and

applied projects, to outreach programmes at various

schools in the KwaZulu-Natal region. UNITE reaches

approximately 2 000 learners each year.

36

Photograph – Mr Noel Powell

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