Posted on December 11, 2018
Students at the University of Pretoria’s Information Design Department had the opportunity to showcase innovative apps that they developed, and which all tap into a social need, to a packed Merensky Library auditorium. The showcase was themed “Designing a Sustainable Future for Africa” and was held to create awareness about the role that technology, particularly mobile technology, plays in our everyday lives.
Over the past few years, Praekelt Consulting – which builds human-centred systems using technology that aims to transform businesses and society – has sponsored several UP students with its bursary programme, and is furthering this relationship by providing bursaries to students in the information design field. “Praekelt is ready to formalise its ongoing partnership with the University of Pretoria,” said Dawood Patel, Managing Director of Praekelt. “As an organisation, we will commit to funding a bursary programme for many years to come to make sure that the student projects presented today become a reality, and to help Praekelt build awesome digital products in the future.”
Praekelt’s products aim to reach everyone in Africa and push the boundaries of the digital user-experience and technology. “Praekelt is an organisation that leverages mobile technology to solve some of the world’s largest problems,” said Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, in his welcome address. “The organisation has a direct link to the University of Pretoria – as the Faculty of Humanities, we are really proud about that.”
UP alumnus Gustav Praekelt, founder of Praekelt Consulting, was in attendance and praised the quality of graduates from the Information Design Department. “We were motivated to work with UP because of the clear leadership in design, specifically in the Information Design Department, because it’s recognised both nationally and internationally for its work,” said Praekelt, who graduated from UP with a BSc in Computer Science and Philosophy. “Some of the leading designers are a product of UP, and we wanted to build on the long relationship we’ve had with the university and to help the next generation of designers to get more experience and be exposed to real-world scenarios to be better designers.”
He added that the organisation’s purpose is to meet the “real needs of people through design”. Giving back to the technology community is of utmost importance to Praekelt, who believes that mobile technology will transform Africa.
“The showcase was a validating experience, and we enjoyed having our work acknowledged by the department and big organisations like Praekelt,” said Cy van der Spuy, a third-year Information Design student, adding that he’s certain that as students they will have a solid design foundation to make products that will help people in terms of improved mobile technology.
“Academic and industry partnerships have a symbiotic relationship,” said Prof Reddy. “And our relationship with Praekelt cements ties that foster opportunities of exposure to cutting-edge facilities and resources. While industry also looks to academia for solutions by turning out graduates whose skills-set align to industry requirements, I believe our graduates have much to learn from working with Praekelt that a university experience may not fully provide.”
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