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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

New digital planetarium first of its kind for Sub-Saharan Africa
2013-10-10

Mr Andrew Johnson, Sky-Skan engineer, explains how the dataprojector of the new digital planetarium functions.
10 October 2013

The University of the Free State (UFS) is the first in the world to boast a modern digital planetarium which was erected within an existing observatory.

It is also the first planetarium of its kind for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“What makes the project unique is the fact that we convert the existing observatory structure into a modern digital planetarium. It hasn’t been done anywhere else,” says Andrew Johnson, engineer at Sky-Skan, the company supplying the equipment and also installing it.

Andrew has worked on similar projects, with his company installing digital planetariums around the world.

What makes the planetarium so special is the fact that it offers visitors an inclusive experience.

“Previously visitors could only watch projected stars and constellations, but with the digital planetarium they can now experience a journey through space which feels very close to reality.”

Andrew points out that, apart from stargazing and travelling through space, the digital planetarium allows the audience to visit planets, explore the secrets of the oceans or even organs in the human body.

The planetarium will also be used for concerts, state-of-the-art presentations, theatre productions, as well as meetings, conferences and exhibitions.

The auditorium can seat approximately 90 adults or 120 children.

The digital dome that was recently fitted into the existing observatory structure, is a 12-metre seamless aluminium screen complemented by a powerful surround-sound system and multiple data projectors from Sky-Skan. This results in an immersive experience of the digital universe, as well as the recreation of the macro and micro cosmos an a variety of other environments.

The planetarium will be officially opened on Friday 1 November 2013 by Derek Hanekom, Minister of Science and Technology. Prof Matie Hoffman from the Department of Physics at the UFS is delighted at this visit from Minister Hanekom.

“This recognition and national interest demonstrates the importance and contribution of the first digital planetarium in Sub-Saharan Africa to science and astronomy.  It is also evidence that a facility like this is important for the training of the next generation of scientists.”

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