The University of Pretoria’s (UP) School of Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT (EBIT) has been ranked first in South Africa and Africa according to the 2020 US News and World Report Rankings on the Best Global Universities for Engineering.
“The EBIT Faculty is proud of its recent achievement and this is largely due to the tremendous effort of the leadership in the various departments, our committed lecturers and dedicated students through the wonderful support of our alumni, government and industry partners,” said Faculty Dean Professor Sunil Maharaj.
Starting from humble beginnings in 1956 with only 64 students, today EBIT has around 8 000 enrolled undergraduate students. Over the years, the School of Engineering has experienced remarkable growth and development, producing around 28% of graduate engineers in the country in 2019. In 1971 it became the largest school of engineering in the country. It is one of four schools in the Faculty of EBIT and comprises the departments of Chemical; Civil; Electrical, Electronic and Computer; Materials Science and Metallurgical; Mining; Mechanical and Aeronautical; and Industrial and Systems Engineering.
Being rated the number one school of engineering in South Africa is a remarkable achievement and is celebrated with great pride, although it does not come as a surprise as the school was listed among the top 1% of engineering schools worldwide in the Web of Science in 2016. Since 2001 the School of Engineering’s nine undergraduate programmes have been subject to internationally recognised accreditation processes by the Engineering Council of South Africa, which are conducted every five years. Accreditation is granted in terms of the prescribed standards of the Washington Accord, which is used to assess the education of professional engineers in 17 countries. This confirms that the faculty is highly ranked globally, and its undergraduate programmes are accredited by national and/or international statutory bodies.
The faculty’s research activities have been gaining momentum since the mid-1970s. Through its various research focus areas, the School of Engineering continues to contribute to high-quality research, making UP a leading research-intensive university in Africa and beyond. It has 19 externally funded research chairs and 13 institutes and centres that attract high-quality students and staff. In order to be a globally competitive leader, the faculty actively collaborates with international universities and other innovative institutions around the world. Among these is an exchange programme with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA, which has benefited many students in the mechanical and aeronautical engineering fields, allowing selected students from UP to study at MIT for a year and MIT students to study at the UP’s School of Engineering for a year.
The school prides itself on its outstanding facilities, including the following:
- The Mining Virtual Reality Centre in the Department of Mining Engineering is a world-class virtual reality centre—a first for Africa. The centre was developed with the visionary support of Kumba Iron Ore, a member of the Anglo American plc group, to enhance education, training and research in operational risk across industries through an innovative approach to information optimisation and visualisation. This facility has been extended to include other areas as well.
- Since 2013, the school has had its own study centre called the Mining Industry Engineering Study Centre, which is designed and equipped to support the on-campus study needs of the engineering students in a computer laboratory and also provide facilities for individual and group work. It has over 800 individual study cubicles and 30 discussion rooms which students may book for their group discussions.
- There are outstanding lecture halls and laboratories in the Engineering 3 Building, which was added to the School of Engineering in 2013.
- The latest addition to the School of Engineering is the state-of-the-art Engineering 4.0, which was developed in collaboration with SANRAL SOC Ltd. This facility provides a space to find innovative solutions, using a transdisciplinary approach, to challenges regarding future transportation and smart cities. The proximity of this hub to the N4 highway allows easy access to an active test lane where the faculty will collect real-time data to measure and model transport systems using big data analytics, design and test Internet of Things sensors and devices, and work on future automotive engineering and railway systems, among other projects.