[Article by Amber Viviers]
The Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU) recently welcomed members of the board of MTN South Africa when they paid a visit to the MTN Mobile Intelligence Lab (MTN MIL). In this multidisciplinary environment, engineering solutions are developed and research contributions are made that apply to everyday challenges. The lab is situated within the faculty’s building.
The visitors included MTN SA Chairman Michael Harper, MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi and 40 other directors and executives of MTN SA. Students presented innovative projects and research to the MTN SA team throughout the innovation showcase.
The lab and its inhabitants are funded by MTN SA, with financial support provided to students for academic requirements and development funding for their projects. The collaboration between the faculty and MTN SA is not new. For example, the Department of Electrical and Electronic (E&E) Engineering has received funding from MTN SA for research initiatives since 2012.
Professor Thinus Booysen, Professor in Engineering and the Research Chair in the Internet of Things at SU, is also the director of the lab and said it was a privilege to host the board. “We showcased the numerous projects we are working on at the MTN Mobile Intelligence Lab.”
The lab was established in 2014 as an initiative from MTN SA to initiate projects to improve everyday problems that will ultimately influence the world. The lab’s academic focus explores the next frontier in mobile technology and computing, telemetry, cloud computing, mobile value-added services (VAS) and intelligent transport systems (ITS).
A large part of MTN SA’s funding is towards the smart and electric minibus taxi project. “We did studies on the electrification of taxis, and we’re also looking at things like cashless payment systems, facial recognition of darker skin tones, occupancy detection and driver behaviour monitoring,” said Prof Booysen.
He added: “We are also working with Golden Arrow on the electrification of their bus fleet, and they were kind enough to make one of their busses available for this event. So, this is just another example of how the university works together with industry partners for everyone’s benefit.”
Harper said it is a privilege for MTN SA to support the endeavours of the lab. “Thank you for showcasing excellence in Digital and Technological Innovation driven by you (Prof Booysen) and your very capable students. There are some truly fascinating projects,” he said.
MTN SA Director Mike Bosman thanked Prof Booysen and his talented group of students for a very interesting afternoon. Marius van Rensburg, GM: Strategy at MTN SA and Mrunal Bhagwan, Senior Manager: Strategic Research and Insights at MTN SA, facilitated the visit.
Photograph: Attendees listening intently to one of the students’ presentations.