This meeting marked a significant milestone in the academic and scientific landscape of South Africa, as both institutions recognised the pressing need to train the next generation of scientists and engineers in the specialised field of nuclear science. NECSA, which is gearing up for the construction of a second nuclear reactor, identified TUT as the ideal partner to fulfil this critical mandate.
One of the primary objectives of this partnership is to address the scarcity of skills in nuclear science and engineering. South Africa has long recognised the importance of nuclear technology in various sectors, including energy, healthcare and industry. However, there is a shortage of experts in this specialised field, making collaboration like the one between TUT and NECSA crucial for the country's scientific and economic growth in preparing future-ready graduates.
During the meeting, TUT delegates received a comprehensive overview of NECSA's history and its significant contribution to the advancement of science as well as the South African economy. NECSA has played a pivotal role in the development and application of nuclear technology in the country, making it a key player in the nation's scientific landscape.
The discussion between TUT and NECSA was wide-ranging. Key points of discussion included the development of an overarching MoU that encompasses the Faculty of Science as well as the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, through field excursions and in-service training opportunities for TUT students, allowing them to gain hands-on experience in NECSA's nuclear facilities.
Furthermore, NECSA has expressed its willingness to provide guest lecturers to TUT for specialised modules in nuclear science and engineering. They will also offer TUT researchers and postgraduate students access to NECSA's cutting-edge instrumentation, thereby enhancing their research capabilities and promoting impactful research, innovation, engagement and technology transfer.
According to Prof Yvonne Paul, Faculty of Science Acting Executive Dean, , collaborative efforts in securing funding for research, postgraduate and undergraduate studies in nuclear sciences were discussed, including the provision of bursaries. “Both institutions are working towards the long-term goal of developing a Nuclear Science Programme, aligning it with the qualification benchmark of North-West University. Both TUT and NECSA are committed to establishing an engagement team that will drive this initiative forward. This team will not only facilitate decision-making processes but also oversee the successful implementation of the collaboration plan. The partnership holds the promise of addressing the skills gap in nuclear science and engineering while contributing to South Africa's scientific and economic development,” said Prof Paul.
As South Africa looks to the future, collaboration like the one between TUT and NECSA, exemplify the nation's commitment to advancing science and technology, ultimately benefiting society. This partnership marks a significant step toward a brighter, more scientifically robust future for the country.