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17 April 2019 | Story Leonie Bolleurs
Science ambassadors
Friends Tekano Mbonani and Chaka Mofokeng are pursuing graduate degrees in respectively Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape. The two got together and decided to reach out to the high school, Leseding Technical Secondary School, where they came from.

It was a full house as more than 120 learners packed the hall at the Leseding Technical Secondary School in the Free State, where two young Astronomy researchers had come home to tell their younger peers about their studies and career prospects across South Africa.

Chaka Mofokeng and Tekano Mbonani are both former learners at the high school. Currently pursuing graduate degrees – for Mbonani in Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS), and for Mofokeng in Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape – the two friends got together and decided to reach out to the high school where they came from.

The event took place in January before schoolwork, tests, and exam preparations are occupying learners’ minds, inviting them to think about the big picture – the future, and how to be part of it. This is timely, because in July last year, the MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in the Karoo. The MeerKAT is the first step to the international SKA telescope project, but it is already one of the best radio telescopes in the world and has placed South Africa firmly on the world map of radio astronomy and engineering.

Building a bridge
“This project enables us to build a bridge between secondary and tertiary institutions. Currently focused on senior secondary students, we aim to promote science through outreach events and activities. Using science and technology-based activities and events, such as stargazing at an observatory or exploring the universe in a planetarium, we want to attract these future secondary graduates. We also provide mentorship, hoping to help them improve their academic performance in matric,” said Mbonani.

For a whole morning, they spoke about their journeys, about science, about the skills that scientists acquire during their studies and all the opportunities such studies open up in an era where the 4th Industrial Revolution is predicted to reduce the number of jobs in many traditional professions. They addressed their peers in both English and Sesotho.

Astronomy in South Africa contributes to critical-skills development. Investing in the MeerKAT, for example, meant that over a thousand bursaries were made available through the SKA South Africa Human Capacity Development programme. Young scientists like Mofokeng and Mbonani have the opportunity to be part of MeerKAT science projects through their studies, using machine learning and other skills that are high in demand in today’s world. This was one of the messages they brought home.

Gaining new skills

“As an Astronomy research student, I have gained skills such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, communication and writing, programming, and teamwork, among others. These are requirements for most companies and institutions. With the unfolding of the 4th Industrial Revolution, such skills sets make young and aspiring scientists the perfect candidates for making the most of future opportunities,” reflected Mofokeng.

Most of the learners said they have never attended a science-outreach event. They were inspired by the young scientists’ stories and nearly half of them said they could see themselves pursuing a career in science. The learners also expressed a strong interest in more events of this kind, as well as mentorship during Grades 11 and 12 from peers at university. They asked about the salaries earned by astronomers, how long the studies take, and where astronomers are working in South Africa.

This initiative, started by two bright young scientists, hopefully marks the beginning of many more events of this kind. Mofokeng and Mbonani are already planning what to do on their next trip home.

News Archive

UFS implements access control measures on our Bloemfontein Campus
2014-11-21



Photo: Hannes Pieterse

Online Application form: non personnel

Map with access gates on the Bloemfontein Campus


Accessing the Bloemfontein Campus from 3 November 2014

Access control during major events on the Bloemfontein Campus

Q&A




The University of the Free State (UFS) has been tightening security measures on its Bloemfontein Campus for quite some time now. Purposefully, we have consolidated several safety measures to keep our students, staff and visitors – the heartbeat of our university – protected.

Our most significant step in this endeavour is now in the process of implementation. All five entrance gates to the campus are being equipped with strict access control.

The first phase of the process was implemented beginning of August 2014. Gates 2 (Badenhorst Street) and 4 (Furstenburg Street) were equipped with card readers. Only persons with valid access cards can enter and leave through these gates. Existing staff and student cards are equipped to be read by the short-distance card readers at the gates in order to activate the booms.

At this stage, staff and students are swiping their cards against the card readers at Gates 2 and 4 or holding it not further than 20 mm from the reader for the boom to open. Card holders now physically stop in front of the boom in order to get access to the campus.  

The duel-frequency card:

The dual-frequency cards available at the Card Division on the Thakaneng Bridge are currently out of stock. New cards will be delivered on Friday 14 November 2014.

The special offer of R30 per access card has been extended to the end of November 2014. To qualify for this offer, staff and students may pay the R30 for a dual-frequency card at the bank or cashiers on the Thakaneng Bridge no later than 28 November.  The cost of dual-frequency cards will increase to R60 per card from 1 December 2014.

Please note that only people with vehicles need to apply for dual-frequency cards.

Students and staff will, however, still be able to gain access to the Bloemfontein Campus with their current cards (in the case of staff and students who haven’t purchased dual-frequency cards yet). As is currently the practice at the gates in Furstenburg and Badenhorst Streets, you will have to stop when you reach the boom, swipe your card past the card reader, the boom will open and you will be able to drive through.

Staff and students using their dual-frequency cards should:

-       Reduce speed
-       Hold the card in a vertical position at the driver’s side window, in the direction of the long-distance reader (see photo)

It is therefore not necessary to stop in front of the boom. On holding your card upright, in line with the card reader, the gate will open automatically and you will be able to drive through (keep your card outside your window; the card reader cannot operate through tinted windows).

Please note that this arrangement only applies to incoming lanes. On leaving the campus, the card has to be swiped. This is due to the number-plate recognition technology installed at exits for additional security.

If the long-distance reader does not work, the dual-frequency card can still be used at a tag reader. 

Applying for your new card:

Electronic fund transfers: Absa Bank: 1 570 8500 71, Ref: 1 413 07670 0198, OR pay the R30 at the UFS Cashiers, Thakaneng Bridge. Please note that the price of the cards will increase to R60 from 1 November 2014.

Take your existing personnel or student card, together with proof of payment, to the UFS Card Division, Bloemfontein Campus, Thakaneng Bridge, to have your photo taken and your new dual-frequency card issued.

Permission to access specific UFS buildings or facilities linked to your existing card, will be automatically linked to the new card.

The new card is marked ‘dual’ on the back in the right, bottom corner.

The UFS Cashiers will provide assistance between 09:00 and 14:30, and the UFS Card Division between 09:00 and 15:00.

Implementation of full access control


Full access control will be implemented on the UFS’s Bloemfontein Campus from 3 November 2014. This means that access control will be implemented at all gates on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Who is using which gate? See Q&A for more information.


Gate 3 (Wynand Mouton Drive) is earmarked for use by official card holders. These include students, staff and persons doing business on campus. Parents dropping and fetching their children for sports, as well as service providers of the UFS, such as architects, may apply for valid cards. These persons will have to provide proof that they have business on campus (complete online application form and sign declaration).

All visitors to the campus will be referred to the Visitor’s Centre at Gate 5 (DF Malherbe Drive). This include, among others, parents, family and friends of students, as well as conference delegates. It is estimated that the Visitor’s Centre will be completed at the end of November (note that the gate at DF Malherbe Drive will be operational by 3 November 2014). Visitors will sign in at the Visitor’s Centre and, depending on the business they have on campus, they will only be allowed on campus for a certain period of time.

•    Lane 1 at Gate 5 will be used by visitors and service providers to enter the campus. Only card holders will be able to use lane 2.
•    Buses and trucks can also enter the campus through Gate 5.

The construction at the Main Gate at Nelson Mandela Drive is to build one extra lane for incoming traffic. The project is estimated to be completed at the end of October 2014.

•    For outgoing traffic, lane 1 (furthest from the guardhouse) and lane 2 will only be used by card holders and lane 3 (closest to the booth) will be used by service providers.
•    For incoming traffic, lanes 2 and 3 were set aside for use by only service providers. Lanes 1 and 4 will be used by only card holders.

Pedestrians

All gates for motorists will also be equipped with a pedestrian thoroughfare on completion of the project. Persons using these pedestrian gates also need to use their cards to get access to the campus.

Pedestrians who are visitors, but aren’t in possession of a valid access card, should please go to the Visitor’s Centre at the gate in DF Malherbe Drive where they will be helped.

More information

For more information on access control at the UFS, please watch our videos and read the Q&A or e-mail your enquiries to accesscontrol@ufs.ac.za.  


Issued by:    Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Tel: +27(0)51 401 2584 | +27(0)83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za


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