27 July 2018 Photo Anja Aucamp
Grant furthers development of eco cars and green buildings
An Eco-vehicle project will also be funded by the merSETA grant. The development of eco-vehicles by students of the UFS will take place over the three UFS campuses and will include racing in competitions.

A grant for R36,6 million was approved by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA), which will be used for educational interventions in Maths and Science, as well as the continued development of a green building index and the development of a green manufacturing use index through the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Engineering Sciences division.

An Eco-vehicle project will also be funded by the merSETA grant.

In total, the grant will fund nine programmes, spanning a period of three years from 2019, concluding in March 2022.

The UFS has established a number of initiatives that contribute to the skills needed for the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) in South Africa, including Maths and Science programmes in the lower grades (Family Math and Science) that support Math and Science school teachers, mentoring programmes for teachers in the higher grades, dedicated interventions for learners who show aptitude for Maths, and bridging programmes for learners whose matric results are not a true reflection of their potential. These projects will also benefit from the merSETA funding.

Maths and Science

The challenges regarding Mathematics teaching and learning in South Africa are common knowledge. This includes teachers who lack the necessary content knowledge as well as teaching skills, inadequate teaching resources at school and at home, the lack of parental involvement, and challenges around the language of learning and teaching.

Engineering

The quest for sustainable resources remains one of the top-five challenges facing the global population. A substantial amount of the grant (R14,62 million) is earmarked for energy/engineering-related initiatives.

Engineering Sciences is currently developing a Green Building Index, which involves techniques to optimise energy use in existing buildings. A merSETA grant awarded in 2017 is funding this project for the retrofit greening of buildings. 

The recently-awarded grant will fund the preliminary testing, identification, and possible development of new high-performance materials to be utilised in green buildings. The grant will also enable the UFS to conduct research on the development of a Green Manufacturing Index for specific sections of the manufacturing sector in South Africa. 

The merSETA-funded work related to optimising energy use in manufacturing, will be released into the public sector and can be used by smaller businesses for their manufacturing processes and to reduce their carbon footprint. Funding has also been awarded to conduct a series of workshops throughout the country to present the information to engineers, architects, and others working in related industries.

Eco-vehicle

The development of eco-vehicles by students of the UFS will take place over the three UFS campuses and will include racing in competitions.

Through the Eco-vehicle programme, senior undergraduate students will work together in teams to build eco-vehicles powered by solar energy. Five teams associated with the five UFS Student Life Colleges (situated on the Bloemfontein Campus), will compete against one another. Teams will work on design and build; finance and fundraising; logistics, public relations, and marketing; race execution and safety; as well as outreach and education (to secondary schools).

The UFS will design a Skills Programme (NQF 6) for each focus area in order to develop the skills and knowledge of participating students. Experts in the field of sustainable energy will be used to develop and present these short learning programmes.


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