Celebrating 30 years of excellence in engineering, project and technology management

Posted on January 15, 2018

The Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) in the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, commemorated 30 years of excellence in engineering, project and technology management on 24 November 2017.

The event was hosted by Prof Elma van der Lingen, Head of the Department of Engineering and Technology Management and chair of GSTM. Guests were provided the opportunity to celebrate the Department’s success and accomplishments by taking a journey through the milestones that characterised the development of the GSTM from the perspective of its successive heads of department: Prof Gideon de Wet (1987–1991), Prof Antonie de Klerk (1991–2000), Prof Tinus Pretorius (2000–2016) and Prof Elma van der Lingen (2016 to date).

Engineering management as a discipline was introduced at the University of Pretoria with the establishment of an industry-sponsored Chair for Engineering Management in 1987. Prof De Wet was the first chairholder and developed a Master’s in Engineering Management (MEM) programme. A first group of 45 students was admitted in 1989, and since then, between 40 and 60 practising engineers from across the industry spectrum have registered for the programme each year.

Building on the successes achieved during these early years, a separate department was established in the former Faculty of Engineering in 1994. The Department of Engineering and Technology Management was the first and only one of its kind in South Africa. Prof De Klerk became its first Head of Department.

Towards the end of 1999, the University embarked on a restructuring of its academic structure. This brought about the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (a consolidation of the former Faculty of Engineering and certain departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences related to the built environment, as well as those related to information technology). This also brought about the establishment of the GSTM in 2007 as a fourth school in the new faculty.

In 2000, Prof Pretorius was appointed as Head of the Department of Engineering and Technology Management. Under his leadership, the Department went from strength to strength, and postgraduate student numbers soon exceeded 1 000. The Master’s in Project Management (MPM) programme, which had been established in 1999, grew from an initial 45 students to between 70 and 80 students registering for the programme each year.

In 2004, a Master’s in Technology Management (MTM) programme was introduced, which was aimed at graduates with an honours or master’s degree in Management of Technology. The MTM degree prepares these candidates for leadership roles in business through professional postgraduate education.

The GSTM is registered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the USA as a global education provider and claims to be the capital for project management research and training in Africa. In 2008, the MPM programme received international accreditation from the PMI’s Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs.  

Today, the School offers a variety of programmes related to engineering management, project management, and technology and innovation management. Several individuals from industry are involved on a part-time basis. The GSTM offers internationally recognised programmes at honours, master’s and doctoral level. Its programmes address different needs in the field of technology management, project management, engineering management, life cycle management and asset management.

A strong focus on research ensures competitive education. Research also ensures relevance to the market in terms of increased competitiveness, optimising product life cycles, technology transfer and the positioning of technological abilities within the international context. The GSTM’s academic and research offering and consultation services to industry contribute to relevance, competitiveness and excellence. Collaboration with both local and international institutions is of great importance to the GSTM.

Following the retirement of Prof Pretorius at the end of September 2016 after 16 years of heading the GSTM, he was succeeded by Prof Van der Lingen, who is focused on ensuring that the Department maintains its reputation of excellence in the globally evolving discipline of engineering, project, and technology and innovation management. Building on the success achieved over the past three decades, she is confident that the GSTM will equip postgraduate students and industrial leaders with the ability and management skills that are needed to enhance the potential of technology to the benefit of the national and international community.

Published by Marlene Mulder

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