Daniel Tendai Chitima, a Master’s student in Industrial Engineering.
UPGRADE concentrates on increasing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) capacity as well as improving the knowledge and skills in university administration. FIU leads the project, with the US Embassy in South Africa providing financial support to South African partner institutions. These include TUT, the University of Limpopo (UL), University of Pretoria (UP) and University of Mpumalanga (UMP).
The project’s main objective is to strengthen the South African partners’ postgraduate STEM capacity, reinforce capacity in the administration of STEM programmes and build the sustainability of the partnership through the MoU. This will include possible scholarships, private sector involvement and linking up with other funding opportunities.
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement said both universities are globally recognised for research, education, innovation, and commitment to societal impact. “By combining our strengths and deepening our collaboration, we can magnify the impact to address a number of global challenges,” she explained.
The two universities have already identified a number of areas of collaboration:
- Research and practice in the STEM education and addressing challenges in the area.
- STEM education projects and programmes.
- Collaborative online international learning opportunities.
- Research collaboration with US universities.
- Research funding in the US and partnership opportunities.
- Research administration at US universities.
- Selection of students from participating universities to link with FIU staff and students.
Dr Zamxaka added that the MoU presented an opportunity for students to learn new skills and prioritise the publication of results in scientific journals with FIU faculty co-authorship.
“Our students already have an opportunity to participate a four to six week-long internship programme at the FIU Miami campus in September/October 2022. The 46 candidates from South African partner universities who applied, went through a rigorous selection process, however only five could be funded for the internship programme,” she said.
Daniel Tendai Chitima, a Master’s student in Industrial Engineering at TUT, was selected as one of the top five students from the South African partner universities.
Speaking about the opportunity, Chitima said: “I am excited about the chance to participate in the UPGRADE internship programme at FIU. It will expose me to international best practices in postgraduate research and I will draw upon the FIU curricula to enhance my technical and research skills. In addition, I will acquire new skills aimed at prioritising the publication of results in scientific journals, which will contribute to improving the quality of my current master's research project and possible future academic pursuits.”
*12 top-ranking applications from TUT’s PhD and master’s students have been selected for Virtual Exchange Programmes.