UP and Eskom establish partnership to further telecommunications research

The event took place on Thursdaym 20 November, afternoon at the Hatfield Campus of the University.

The agreement between EBIT and Eskom Academy of Learning will run for a period of five years starting from next year (2009). Funding of R1.8-million per annum will be put into this partnership bringing the total funding amount to R10-million over five years.

The purpose of the partnership can be summarized as follows: To promote study and research in the field of wireless and fixed broadband multimedia communications networks, products and services; Further the interaction between academic institutions and the industry in general and specifically between UP and Eskom; Further education and teaching specifically in the fields of RF Communications, Digital Transmission Technology, Digital Network Technology and Utility Telecommunications at an undergraduate and postgraduate level in conjunction with the research and product development efforts of the Broadband Wireless Multimedia Communications (“BWMC”) research group; To investigate, develop and implement a Masters Degree in Telecommunications Engineering so as to address the shortage of high-level skills in the various specialization fields.

This joint venture will be run and managed under the auspices of the Sentech Chair in Broadband Wireless Multimedia Communications (BWMC). The Chair is located within the University’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering.

“For South Africa to improve it's global competitiveness, it needs to develop globally competitive researchers and high caliber graduates in Telecommunications (ICT). This alliance aims to address this skills shortage both for the utility and for the South African economy, whilst at the same time increasing our research outputs," said Dr Sunil Maharaj – the Sentech Chair in BWMC at the University’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering

According to the agreement, Eskom should derive real benefits from the sponsorship in terms of interaction with experts in the fields of telecommunications research, teaching, research outputs, short courses in related fields, interaction with undergraduates and postgraduates through student projects.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr L Pillay – Manager of Eskom Academy of Learning reiterated that when Eskom established its Academy of Learning, the aim was not to compete with universities. Instead, it was to establish partnership and collaboration with universities especially in the area of skills development.

“It is important for us to develop skills in the country through partnerships of this nature. This agreement between Eskom Academy of Learning and the University of Pretoria is a win-win situation for both partners,” he added.

Mr Pillay pointed that Eskom’s Academy of Learning started its relations with the University of Pretoria few years ago through a number of courses that both parties offered.

“With the latest agreement, there will be lot of research opportunities,” he said.

Professor Roelf Sandenbergh – Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology at the University of Pretoria said that the agreement meant that the two partners can complement each other to develop new technology as they are both committed to the training of engineers.

“As two great institutions, we can make something very special for South Africa,” he said.

Prof Sandenbergh indicated that the School of Engineering at the University of Pretoria was nearly twice the size of its nearest competitor. The relatively high success rate of students in the programs in engineering of between 60 and 70% is an indication of the quality of the teaching and the dedication of the staff and students to learning.

Prof Sandenbergh believes that the dedication of staff and collaboration with the industry enables the University to meet the highest standards. Each year, the University experiences growth and increase in the number of prospective students enrolled for engineering related programmes. The institution has also ensured more access for students from the previously disadvantaged communities through it successful extended programs.


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