Universities discuss the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Universities discuss the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Mr David Mauchline: Additive Manufacturing Specialist presenting a talk on: “First steps using the Sintratec Additive Manufacturing Technology to bring digital objects to functional parts”.
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and its Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park (VUTSGSTP) attended the South African Technology Network (SATN) International Conference at Elangeni Hotel in Durban from 11-13 September.
The theme for the conference was: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: The role of Universities”.
According to a SATN booklet given to delegates: “Universities have always emphasised their role in shaping future technology by being the test-beds for innovation and educating future generations. Traditional education has contributed greatly to the current levels of industrial evolution and technological advancement. However, for higher education to deliver future generations with the right set of skills and knowledge, an imperative question has to be asked regarding how higher education would be affected by the fourth industrial revolution and how the delivery of education will be transformed.”
Science Park Team
The fourth industrial revolution is explained as the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the ‘Internet of Things’, robotics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are changing the way we live and work.
The conference was officially opened by programme director Mr Alan Khan: Senior Director, Division of Corporate Affairs at Duran University of Technology (DUT).
SATN Chairperson, and Vice-Chancellor of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Prof Lourens van Staden welcomed the delegates. In his speech he said: “It’s a pleasure and honour to welcome you all on behalf of the SATN, to the 2018 conference. Your input and participation in this conference, focused on the role of the university in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is key as to how we as institutions of higher education will live with the impact of this revolution.”
He thanked all their partners, in particular their main partners, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Durban University of Technology (DUT).
“Thank you once again for your attendance and participation. Umuntu ngu muntu ngabantu,” he said as he closed his welcoming address.
The Honourable MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube delivering a message of support
The Chief Executive Officer of SATN, Dr Anshu Padayachee, continued to put the conference in context: “Over the last three decades, the last three revolutions, there has been a revolution of learning and I think that’s something we should consider.
“With the many things that we thought about to discuss, that which plays a role in our nation and nations around the world, this whole issue of the Fourth Industrial Revolution was one. And, being academics and the people that create this intelligencia, the knowledge-makers and so forth, we thought that this would be [important to discuss], as this is our space where we can plan for the future generations,” he said.
The honourable MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube gave a message of support: “On behalf of the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, we wish to express our gratitude for this invitation to deliver the message of support at this important conference. For us, the provincial government, The Fourth Industrial Revolution is no longer an abstract or academic subject, but this is a reality of our modern times. Recently we have seen how Saudi Arabia became the first country to have a robot called Sophia, the biggest accommodation company as we know in the world, is Air B&B, and yet they do not own a single hotel room, similarly, the biggest transportation company, Uber as we know it, does not even own a single vehicle. Today, slowly but surely, university students are able to attend lectures from many parts of the world via their smart gadgets. Such has been the scale and scope brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The disruptive technology and trends are changing the way we live and the way we work. The transition towards a knowledge-based society and an innovation-based economy is based on a hill of advances and technology, as well as research and development. There can be no doubt that with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, innovation and knowledge production have become critical instruments through which global competitiveness of any society can be measured.”
The conference’s opening address was given by Dr Adriana Marais who describes herself as a theoretical physicist, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa and aspiring extra-terrestrial. She presented on: “The Allure of the unknown – The reason I want to go to Mars”. Dr Marais is one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates in the running to move to the red planet in the next 10 years. While sharing her passion for the allure of the unknown and her views on the expansion of the society beyond this planet, she played a video titled “One-Way ticket to Mars. The video was about the three biggest unknowns which are: life, space and time. The video summarised a project to establish the first human settlement on Mars.
“She mentioned that, she can’t imagine a bigger opportunity than being able to explore a new planet for the very first time and share the adventure with earth.
She was followed by the Keynote Speaker, Prof Seeram Ramakrishna: Director of the Centre for Nanofibres and Nanotechnology National University of Singapore.
The conference had four themes over three days.
For day one, the first theme was: The Fourth Industrial Revolution, International experience and trends. The second was: The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for higher education.
On the second day, the theme was: University industry partnerships in the changing world of work and on the third day it was: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and sustainable futures.
There was an impressive line-up of speakers who were uniquely skilled and knowledgeable to debate the subject, as well as highlight the key aspects and changes that will be brought upon by the revolution. They shared their thoughts, suggestions and experiences in their individual countries and how they are preparing themselves for the changes.
From VUT and VUTSGSTP, the representatives were Mr David Mauchline: Additive Manufacturing Specialist who presented a talk on: “First steps using the Sintratec Additive Manufacturing Technology to bring digital objects to functional parts”, Ms Dikeledi Selepe and Prof Ahmed Wadee who spoke about: “Nursing Education and Training for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and from a partnership between VUT and North-West University, Dr Annete Harmse, Prof Dawid Jordaan, Prof Anita Seugnet Blignaut and Prof Ahmed Wadee who presented on: “ Higher Education Institutions , ICT Graduates and Skills required for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
The conference offered the opportunity to explore how institutions in other countries are addressing the challenges presented by the phenomenon, understand the demands of business and industry, showcase innovations and network with all the stakeholders.