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18 March 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Solar car Team
Excited about a first for the UFS, Team UFS is entering the 2020 Sasol Solar Challenge. From the left, front, are: Fouché Blignaut, Mechatronic Engineering; Nathan Bernstein, Agricultural Engineering; Lucas Erasmus, Physics; middle: Barend Crous, Manufacturing and Instrumentation; Hendrik van Heerden, Physics (team leader); Antonie Fourie, Physics; Prof Danie Vermeulen, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (team director); Prof Koos Terblans, Head of the Department of Physics; Theo Gropp, Mechanical Engineering; back: Louis Lagrange, Head of the Department of Engineering; and Mark Jacson, Electronics.

An interdepartmental team from the University of the Free State (UFS) has announced that it will enter and participate in the 2020 Sasol Solar Challenge, scheduled to take place from 11 to 19 September this year. 

For the challenge, Team UFS will build a self-propelled manned vehicle that uses solar power systems to travel from point A to point B. The 14-member team of the UFS will travel on public roads from Pretoria to Cape Town via a predefined route over eight days. They will compete against more than 15 other teams, both local and international. The team that finishes with the greatest distance covered within the allotted time, will win the race. Teams will race every day between 07:30 and 17:00.

The four drivers to operate the vehicles will be selected from participating UFS departments in the coming months.

First solar car for the UFS
Dr Hendrik van Heerden from the Department of Physics has been planning the solar car project – Lengau (meaning Cheetah in Sesotho) – over the past year. He will start assembling the car in the next month together with colleagues and students from both the Departments of Physics and Engineering Sciences (EnSci).

Not only is this a dream come true, but it is also an opportunity for the UFS to show that they can do this. “We do not need the backing of a large and long-established engineering department to build a car like this, a young and vibrant team can do just as much!”, says Dr Van Heerden, who plans to complete the car within a few months, ready to be calibrated and tested later in June.

Capacity in green and sustainable engineering
“The ability of Team UFS to participate is possible due to recent research developments on photovoltaic technologies (solar cells) in the Department of Physics, a well-established leader in the field of surface and material sciences. The university also has established capacity in the fields of photoluminescence and nanomaterials (nanomaterials in energy storage). Additionally, with the establishment of EnSci, the university has expanded into this field, which will bring building capacity in the area of green and sustainable engineering to the project,” says Dr Van Heerden.

Promoting development into green technologies and 4IR
According to Dr Van Heerden, it is clear that the university wishes to become a strong role player in the development and utilisation of green energy, as can be seen in the implementation of relevant technologies on its various campuses. “Thus, for the UFS to be recognised in this research area, it is important to participate in related ‘green’ events where staff and students can build their capacity of practical knowledge by constructing participation equipment such as the solar car.”

He believes that this project has the potential to become a strong base for student training and capacity building in all technological fields, which can promote base development to 4IR.

News Archive

2011 Leadership group meets for the first time
2011-08-01

 

Photo: Hannes Pieterse

The long application process, panel interviews and nail-biting wait finally came to an end the past week, when the cream of our first-year class of 2011 gathered in the Scaena Theatre on our Bloemfontein Campus, for their first group meeting as the selected Leadership for Change cohort.

These 150 students, from all our faculties, will over the following year be groomed to be leaders, not only at the university, but also in their respective fields and chosen careers.
The first group of students will depart for their respective universities in America and Europe on 22 September 2011, where they will spend two weeks. The second group of students will depart for universities in Japan in January 2012.

Although they have all passed a gruelling selection process, the real hard work is only starting now for these bright young students.

The programme will take place in four phases. During the preparation phase, which has now kicked off, students are prepared for the experience ahead, while being made aware of exactly what to expect from the programme.

In the study-abroad phase, students will be placed at 15 partner institutions in various countries, and will be divided into groups of six to twelve people. According to Prof. Aldo Stroebel, Director of International Academic Programmes, the groups will be diverse, in that there will be a mix of races, genders and study fields, which should guarantee dynamic interaction.

During the group’s first meeting this week, they were informed of the important goals of the Leadership for Change Programme, by Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs.

He imparted the gravity of their selection on the students by saying, “You may not get it yet, but I understand the reason we are all here. I understand that by looking at what you achieve after this programme, we can tell what the country could possibly achieve in the future. It is immensely moving to see the way you all carry yourselves, since I can see something special and unique in each of you.”
“You are all here, not because of which school you went to, or your race, or who your parents are, but because you all show potential to be something great.”

Prof. Stroebel reminded the group that despite the excitement that they all have about visiting universities in America, Europe and Asia, these visits should be seen as study trips.

“You may have three days to acquaint yourselves with the surroundings, but after that there will be very little sightseeing and a lot of hard work.”

They will participate in programmes designed by their respective host institutions, aimed at exposing them to different cultures, lifestyles and beliefs.

They will be accompanied by our staff, who Prof. Stroebel says will grow with the students, as they will be expected to guide the students through their tasks and assignments and interact with them on a daily basis.

Upon their return, there will be a debriefing phase, during which they will be expected to provide feedback on their experiences, as well as submit assignments which they will be assigned at their respective institutions.

The final phase is known as the impact phase, as this will see the students apply what they have learned in a positive manner and help drive the university to the future and to becoming a world-leading tertiary institution.

 

Media Release
1 August 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za


 

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