Faculty Of ICT Executive Dean, Dr Etienne Van Wyk.
The FoICT Research Day focused on the needs to deliver a well-prepared cohort of the next generation researchers, postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows to the market; and creating an enabling environment that will allow researchers to thrive and to establish a critical mass of contented research leaders who inspire and mentor others. The priority areas that provide TUT with a sustained reputation for a solution-focused approach, as well as digitalisation of the research environment, were also highlighted during the day.
This year’s presentations of research and innovation projects looked at a number of emerging technologies: internet of things; extended reality; cybersecurity, data science and analytics; artificial intelligence and machine learning; image processing and computer vision; business computing, management and innovation; as well as system integration.
Dr Van Wyk pointed out that the Faculty recently concluded three important MoU’s with the MICT SETA, Sentech and PSETA respectively. “The PSETA agreement was the first project to commence at TUT’s Institute for the Future of Work (IFoW). This contract research project looks at the skills required by the public sector for future ICT support staff. Secondly, the MICT SETA agreement provides financial support for a Research Chair in 4IR as well as students bursaries and development of projects in the 4IR space. Lastly, the Sentech agreement provides funding for the establishment of a centre of excellence in cybersecurity and data science.”
Keynote speaker, Prof Vukosi Marivate, discussed the topic, ‘building the Africa AI we want’. He highlighted that attendees should look at the revolution with critical eyes and always be ready to challenge, learn and innovate.
In terms of FoICT’s research outputs, the projected number of research units for 2022 will be double the research outputs unit for 2021. The increase in research outputs units is attributed to the high number of staff members at the Faculty who recently obtained their doctorates, coupled by the increase in the number of Master’s and Doctoral students who published with their supervisors. In addition, the Faculty is implementing various measures at the Faculty to increase research outputs.
Despite the limited staff capacity at the Faculty, over the past five years a total of 135 students in postgraduates research qualifications, 118 Master’s and seventeen Doctoral students have graduated. Last year, it initiated a flagship project in digital agriculture and there are already twenty-two projects on the use of artificial intelligence in farming.
Amidst the eleven participants who presented their research this year, a panel of judges identified the best researchers, who received tokens of appreciation for their hard work.
In closing, Dr Van Wyk said: “Let us celebrate the spirit of inquiry and the power of research to shape a brighter tomorrow for all.”