Engineering education buoyed

09 October 2006

MEC Marius Fransman has generated new engineering bursaries.

UCT's role in producing professional engineers in South Africa has been boosted with a new government initiative and an award of more than R16-million from the Department of Education.

Official figures released this year by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) have revealed that over the period 1999 to 2004, UCT produced 17% of the country's engineering graduates and 47% of all black engineering graduates.

For this reason, the Minister of Education has awarded an amount of more than R16-million to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (EBE) to enhance the faculty's capacity to produce more engineers and built environment professionals for the country. The award forms part of the national Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA ).

The University of the Witwatersrand received R13.4-million, the University of KwaZulu-Natal R14.1-million and the University of Pretoria R4.1-million.

On October 2, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works held a media breakfast at the Mount Nelson Hotel where it was announced that Masakh' Isizwe Centre of Excellence is opening applications for next year.

At the beginning of 2006, the department established the Masakh' iSizwe Centre of Excellence with the intention of making available professionals in engineering and built environment fields to the province, the country and the continent.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo said that UCT has 34 students in various disciplines studying on these bursaries. These include civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, construction management, architecture, quantity surveying and land surveying.

Minister Marius Fransman, MEC for Transport and Public Works, drew attention to "the skills challenge" in South Africa.

Professor Cyril O'Connor, Dean of EBE said in an email: "The greatest need we have is to improve the staff/student teaching ratios and to recruit more and better-trained tutors. It will also help us to manage the extra load we have assumed as a result of the university's agreement to increase intake into EBE programmes as part of our response to ASGISA and the joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition initiatives."

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