Brand new facility for department with proud transformation record

09 September 2002
WORK has begun on a multi-million rand project to revamp the Upper Campus, the focus of which will be a new building to house UCT's renowned Chemical Engineering department. The facility is seen as a significant development for the University's ongoing transformation and equity programmes. Presently the chemical engineering department graduates the most black and female engineers in the country.

Council has approved design proposals for the new facility, to be constructed at the northern end of the Snape laboratories, and a lead donation towards its funding has been committed from Anglo Platinum and Anglo American. Tenders have been awarded and construction will start immediately, with a completion date set for October 2003, allowing occupation for the start of the 2004 academic year.

Chemical engineering has made great strides in the arenas of transformation and equity. Head of Department Professor Sue Harrison was the first woman to head an engineering department in South Africa and over 40% of first year chemical engineering students are women. The department has also produced more black chemical engineering graduates than any other university in South Africa.

"Chemical engineering has become a thriving, dynamic department, based on a philosophy that applied and fundamental research provide a critical underpinning of relevant teaching at all levels," Harrison explained. "Such has been the department's growth that it's activities have spread to other buildings on Campus, which has meant that it is time to consolidate."

Chemical Engineering also has a high percentage of women on it staff, including UCT alumna Dr Alison Lewis, now working in process engineering in the waste treatment area, Dr Jenni Case in academic development and research into engineering education, Dr Stephanie Burton, a biochemist who joined the team a year ago from Rhodes University, bioprocess engineer and alumna Dr Kim Clarke, and long-term researcher Dr Dee Bradshaw. Bradshaw, also a UCT alumna, has played a leading role in the Department's research thrust, most recently through her co-ordination of the Department's Depressant Research Facility.

Former head of department Professor Jean-Paul Franzidis, who now heads an international collaborative research project from his new home at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre in Australia, said: "They provide a healthy balance to the traditionally male-dominated discipline of engineering and are excellent role models to the women students, of whom the Department has a greater proportion than any other engineering discipline at UCT."

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