SU’s Industry Showcase highlighting academic excellence

The Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU) celebrated another successful collaboration between academia and industry by hosting the first Cape Town edition of its already successful Industry Showcase at the Century City Conference Centre on Thursday, 23 May 2024.

The annual SU Engineering Industry Showcase featured seminars on various cutting-edge topics, including machine learning, manufacturing and environmental impact assessments. The 5 academic departments, namely Chemical, CivilElectrical & Electronic, Industrial and Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering, were well represented at the Showcase. They provided insights into current trends and challenges and highlighted potential cross-sector research applications.

Prof Celeste Viljoen, Acting Dean of the Faculty, welcomed guests and delivered an overview of the Faculty, adding: “With a strong focus on real-world industrial issues, the University’s research contributes to academic progress and aims to produce concrete societal benefits.”

Cape Town’s Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis delivered the keynote address and emphasised the essential role of engineering in addressing the city’s challenges. “We are truly blessed in Cape Town with world-class tertiary institutions right on our doorstep, and the outstanding academic track record of a university like Stellenbosch draws many people from across the country,” he remarked.

Hill-Lewis highlighted the synergy between the city’s developmental projects and the themes covered in the showcase, such as energy, automation and environmental impacts. “Almost all our challenges require an engineering solution,” he added, underscoring the importance of engineering in public sector projects aimed at transforming Cape Town into a smart, sustainable city.

The showcase featured an impressive lineup of organisations, including Astron Energy, Mediclinic, Deloitte and Dragonfly Aerospace, with Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, also supported the event. Wesgro CEO Wrenelle Stander spoke on the importance of innovation and competitiveness for the Western Cape. She outlined five critical success factors needed to build a thriving innovation system, namely increased access to capital, growth and retention of the talent base, investment promotion, a conducive business environment, and positioning Cape Town as Africa’s Tech Capital.

“Using Sweden as an innovation success story, we see how strategic investments and partnerships can transform a region into a global competitor,” she said, highlighting the benefit of a collaborative approach among the public sector, industry and academia.

Adriaan Scheerers, CEO of Pragma, complimented the event’s relevance and networking opportunities. “The event was well attended by industry, indicating a strong market need to collaborate with universities. The topics addressed were aligned with industry needs and future strategies,” he said.

Dr Msizi Myeza, CEO of the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), echoed this sentiment, underlining the value of networking and information sharing facilitated by the event. “The networking luncheon was particularly beneficial, allowing us to connect with like-minded individuals and establish new relationships that could potentially lead to future collaborations,” he said.

Reflecting on the event, Prof Petrie Meyer, Acting Dean of the Engineering Faculty (together with Prof Viljoen), expressed his gratitude to the organising team and presenters. “The decision to hold this event in Cape Town has already proved to be an excellent one, with several potential collaborations discussed. This was a wonderful show in our 80th year,” he said.

As the Western Cape continues to position itself as a hub of technological innovation and engineering excellence, the Industry Showcase stands out as a key event to foster collaboration, exchange knowledge and develop solutions to address the challenges of the future.

For a complete list of research presented, click here.

Photograph: Prof Celeste Viljoen during her welcoming presentation and Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis delivering the keynote address.

[Article by Amber Viviers]