The EBIT Research Strategy is based on the existing availability of world-class experts conducting research, not only within their particular disciplines, but who also engage in cross-cutting research and innovation over multiple academic departments, schools and faculties.
The UP Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT) drives five Synergistic research areas:
Big Data Science and ICT
Within EBIT, Big Data Science and ICT are considered strategic research focus areas through teaching and research in the fields of big data, data management, machine learning, statistical learning, internet-of-things, data fusion, digital forensics, cybersecurity and visualisation, among others. In support of this, the Faculty has launched a Master’s in Information Technology (Stream C: Big Data Science) degree with participation from multiple academic departments across different faculties. It is also in the process of developing an interdisciplinary Data Science Institute at the University.
Energy is a key priority area for development in South Africa and the broader African continent. EBIT research in this focus area relates to energy efficiency, demand-side management, advanced materials for energy systems, clean renewable energy, nuclear and energy modelling. The Graduate School of Technology Management also contributes to this research focus area through the development of innovative approaches towards energy management. Visibility on an international level is propelled by research into smart grids for energy in collaboration with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), research through the Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Safety and Security (CNSS) in partnership with the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), the NRF and Eskom.
An understanding of the security, efficiency, reliability and sustainability of South Africa’s water resources is essential for development. Through this research focus area, EBIT participates in research related to the creation of a so-called ‘Water Energy Nexus’ and the development of expertise in water resource engineering and management. This includes a focus on the development and utilisation of hydropower as a viable renewable energy source in South Africa and on the quality and treatment processes for, among others, the management of biological wastewater and the production of drinking water. Collaboration with the Water Institute in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences is of key importance for success in this research focus area.
Minerals and Materials Beneficiation
EBIT research through this research focus area has the potential to lead to the up-scaling of South Africa’s mining industry. Research activities relate to fields such as mechanisation and automation, explosive engineering, risk management, safety and health. Minerals beneficiation also focuses on promoting long-term industrialisation and industrial diversification whilst assisting the South African minerals and metallurgical industry to become more competitive. This includes developing expertise in minerals and energy recuperation from waste products. The interdisciplinary nature of this research focus area warrants collaboration with other faculties within the University.
Smart Sustainable Cities and Transportation
A key priority for this research focus area is the establishment of a Building Sciences Living Laboratory to provide a multidisciplinary platform for research in energy efficiency, smart buildings, smart grids, smart transportation, green retrofitting, social learning spaces and occupant behaviour, specifically related to the African continent. Another key priority is the development of the experimental farm facilities for research into future transportation systems for rail, road and autonomous vehicles as a collaborative effort between EBIT, Transnet, the Railway Safety Regulator and SANRAL. This research focus area calls for input from a wide range of EBIT departments, as well as other faculties to achieve optimum results.