Demonstrating the importance of STEM

Demonstrating the importance of STEM

Ms Welile Nyembe: HOD Additive Manufacturing department demonstrating how the 3D manufacturing operates

Selina Rapulane

This year, from 29 July to 2 August, the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) participated in the National Science Week and Sasol TechnoX, which were held were in Mpumalanga at the Mondi Science Centre in Piet Retief and Secunda respectively. The VUT was represented by the Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park (VUT SGSTP) at both NSW and Sasol TechnoX, while academic departments of Industrial and Chemical Engineering joined by the Student Recruitment Department represented VUT at the Sasol TechnoX.  Every year in late July to early August, South Africa celebrates the NSW. It is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) that communicates awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Various stakeholders are invited to demonstrate the importance of these disciplines and the different career pathways available when learners choose these subjects. At these exhibitions around the country, the language of science is expressed to the fullest. The focus is not only about promoting science or STEM, but the annual themes bring the conversation of science to the doorsteps of communities.

The VUT team decided to impart knowledge of Additive Manufacturing at the events and how it plays a role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) because, as stated by the Minister of Communications, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, on her last visit to the VUTSGSTP: “The 4IR is an era we are living in already and this is where our people are active.”  She backed up her words by giving examples of the digital gadgets that we depend on for daily survival, such as cell phones, GPS and cameras and how technology has made things simple.

At Mondi Science Centre, most teachers and students did not know much about additive manufacturing, but the VUTSGSTP staff came prepared to explain the concept to them. They flew the flag high by giving lessons on 3D printing, an entry level into the additive manufacturing world, and shoemaking as is done in the Centre of Footwear Entrepreneurship. The teachers and students were overwhelmed by the depth of knowledge and were surprised to know that the precinct gives short courses in these disciplines for free.

“It gives me so much pleasure to communicate the importance of science and technology, especially to a group of learners who are passionate about the discipline. I always look forward to the NSW,” said Ms Welile Nyembe: HOD Additive Manufacturing department.

Meanwhile, at the Sasol Techno X, the VUTSGSTP showcased product design and development and the capabilities of the machines (which machines?), showing how far technology can go. The Idea to Product (I2P)/FABLAB staff printed samples to show learners the amazing layer by layer process in 3D printing.

Learners enquiring at the VUT stall during the 2019 Sasol Techno X

Towards the end of this exceptional exhibition, a gala dinner was held where winners of the show were announced. VUT took third place for the best exhibition under the category of universities.

“I am so happy with the outcomes. This really shows that working together to reach a goal pays off. I am happy with the announcement and I thank everyone who was involved in making this exhibition a success,” said Mr Moeketsi Montshitsi: Public Relations Co-ordinator at VUTSGSTP.

VUTSGSTP strives to live by one of its strategic goals, which is to foster research, innovation and technology development. This can be achieved through meaningful exhibitions and training in science and technology.

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