SASEE conference encourages academics to strike balance between humanity and technology 

by Mosima Rafapa

27 July 2023

The Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE), in partnership with the South African Society for Engineering Education (SASEE), hosted the 6th Biennial Conference at Glenburn Lodge in Muldersdrift from 11 – 13 July.

SASEE Conference 2023.
Hosted under the theme “Humanity in Engineering Education”, this year’s conference brought to the fore issues related to digital technologies in education and practice. The conference also sought to encourage local and international scholars and experts in engineering education to constantly interrogate educational approaches with the purpose of creating healthy, sustainable learning environments for the benefit of the future of engineering education.

In his opening address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Technology, Professor Ben Van Wyk, reminded academics of their essential role in shaping future engineers through the curricula they develop, as well as the approaches they use to deliver the content. 

He encouraged academics to harness the latest neuroscience developments to improve learning and teaching in engineering, emphasise holistic thinking and to integrate sustainability into the curriculum. “Get to know your students, their backgrounds and their challenges. Adapt to their needs and embed cross-cutting computational thinking skills and AI tools in syllabi to future-proof graduates,” said Prof Van Wyk.

Key-note speakers included:
Sue Fuller-Good, an Energy Incubator, who took a 360 degree look at critical skills that give you energy, sustainability and the edge in your work.

According to her, your brain can't work in this world by itself. It needs a body to support its success. You can't lead a project if you can’t lead yourself. Wellbeing is a skill like golf, and to master it requires insight, practice and coaching to correct your errors and shine the light where you can't see.

Richard Perez from the University of Cape Town’s Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika, talked about Design that has become too important to be left only to the designers. His area of specialisation is adopting a design led mindset as a driver of innovation and strategic leadership.

Matheus de Andrade, Assistant Professor at the UCL Centre for Engineering Education spoke about integrated and connected engineering mathematics from his perspective and focus on designing and delivering engineering mathematics teaching to large-scale, multidisciplinary cohorts

Focal points discussed during the conference included:

  • The responsibility of educators to train engineers, technicians and technologists who understand the related risks and ethical responsibility to society and humanity.
  • The task of preparing future engineering professionals who can design and implement sustainable solutions for a more harmonious existence of all humans with nature.
  • Produce engineering graduates who have agency and purpose in the world, equipped to address the needs of society for the sustainable existence of equitable life on earth.
  • The responsibility to establish and maintain a balanced and sustainable connection between humanity and technology through engineering education.

In conclusion, Dr Grace Kanakana, Executive Dean at FEBE, said the conference brought together scholars who are committed to influencing positive transformation across civil society, academia, government and business. 

“We are excited and grateful about the outcome of the conference. It was a special opportunity to build relationships and share ideas. The conference allowed us a space to nurture support one another personally and professionally, as well as foster lifelong connections of cohesion,” she said.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
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