Steve Mbappe and Nicholas Wiles from the Technology Station in Electronics with the smart automatic hand sanitizer they developed to curb the spread of bacteria in hospitals.
“The idea behind this project was to address the real world problem of hygiene in hospitals and find an innovative solution. Research by the client called Makazi Concepts, has shown that there are instances where doctors and nurses do not wash their hands prior to consulting with patients,” said Kobus Vorster, manager of the TSE.
Vorster said the TSE play an important role at the University in terms of research, innovation and taking a project from a concept to an implementable solution.
“The TSE is one of eighteen technology stations in the country and one of three such stations within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE). These technology stations form part of the CITSIs at the University.”
He explained that the stations at TUT vary according to geographical location and expertise:
- The Technology Station in Chemicals (TSC) is located at the Ga-Rankuwa Campus;
- The Institute for Advance Tooling (IAT) is at the Soshanguve South Campus; and
- The Technology Station in Electronics (TSE) is situated at the Pretoria Campus and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Campus.
According to Vorster, the TSE deals primarily with the manufacture and design of prototypes, training of students, and consulting with clients on their needs, the development of products and processes.
The TSE receives the majority of its projects directly from industry clients or the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) referred them to TUT.
Vorster explained that a brief of the specific project with the specified requirements is sent to the TSE. The staff, who work in teams that can configure themselves and the facilities around the projects they have to work on, then discuss the projects and assign them to a specific design group to complete aligned with the agreed requirements specification of the customer.
A project can take anything from a few months to a year to complete, dependent on the labour intensive nature of the development. It is important for the team to ensure that projects adhere to the clients’ requirements; hence, it could take from six months to a year to form a concept and develop a prototype that will demonstrate the clients’ original concept in the physical environment.
Vorster added that the TSE recruits and offers opportunities for designers who studied at, or who are still enrolled at TUT, from various engineering backgrounds. These designers form part of their multidisciplinary team in the development of prototypes for individuals and businesses.
A number of these designers have since completed their undergraduate studies and are ready to enrol for Masters’ degrees.
- The CITSIs are formal organisational structures that promote research, innovation, partnerships and community engagement in order to maximise the capacity of the University to address complex problems, conduct research, educate students, and serve the needs of the state, the nation, and the world.