SARAO visit explores potential collaboration with TUT

by Kgaugelo Selane

23 August 2023

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory recently visited the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) to explore potential collaboration and funding opportunities for students. The delegation was hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement, Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka and Faculty members from ICT, Science, as well as Engineering and the Built Environment. 

SARAO visits Technology stations.

SARAO aims to identify potential areas of mutual interest and provide support to students in pursuing their academics, career and research endeavours. Hence, the SARAO visit to TUT demonstrates a crucial step in the pursuit of cultivating collaboration between academia and research facilities.

“We are truly honoured by the SARAO visit and look forward to the prospect of collaboration that will contribute meaningfully to the University’s production of future-ready graduates who are empowered to make a difference in society,” said Dr Papu-Zamxaka.  

The proceedings of the day included tours, discussions and presentations by the faculties. The discussions revolved around ways in which the parties could collectively contribute to the advancement of knowledge and innovation. 

The first stop was at the French South African Institute of Technology (F'SATI). Prof Anish Kurien, Prof Nico Steyn and students from F’SATI demonstrated innovative projects in robotics, artificial intelligence and assistive health devices they are developing. They also highlighted the strengths of their programmes and research capabilities. 

The second stop was at the Soshanguve South Campus’s 4IR Research Chair Holder, Prof Pius Owolawi from the ICT faculty’s lab. During the visit, research projects and innovative equipment, which included a drone being flown, were showcased as part of their presentation. The visit concluded with robust discussions between students and SARAO executives, who were literally blown away by the knowledge and quality of the students.

The last stop was at Ditsela Place in Hatfield where the Gibela Research Chair led by Prof Khumbulani Mpofu - the heart of resolving manufacturing value chain challenges - is housed. Martin Manmohan, Project leader for the RMCERI incubator took the visitors through their work, highlighting that the incubator was established to take university developed Intellectual Property to the market. Also present was one of many entrepreneurial advancements – the XR-lab, a virtual reality start-up that is at the cutting edge of virtualising learning environments for reduction in capital laboratory setting-up costs. The team pointed out that this is done while improving learner and industry manufacturing simulation of scenarios. Such cases were highlighted during the tour to enlighten the partners on the University’s readiness to contribute to collaboration with SARAO from an entrepreneurial perspective. 

The visitors expressed an interest in VR development, applications developed at Spiral 8 and the additive manufacturing capability in fabrication of parts and computer aided design. The visit also shed light on the development of new technology-based enterprises and cooperatives, which are critical enablers to a thriving economy.

The presentations delivered by the different faculties and environments showcased the potential and expertise that they have to offer, leaving the window open for SARAO to explore potential opportunities to collaborate with them on research, funding and innovation initiatives.


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