UP, CSIR to train smart technology researchers

The University of Pretoria (UP) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have vowed to work together to create a platform to train new researchers.

The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in the areas of smart transport, cities and environments earlier this week.

“The cooperation means that UP can focus on creating a pipeline of potential researchers in these areas,” said UP’s head of civil engineering department Professor Wynand Steyn.

Smart transport, cities and environments were said to form part of an integrated system which encompassed digitised transportation systems, parking management, reduced traffic congestion and also addressed environmental problems.

The aim thereof was to reduce energy consumption levels of transportation, maximise productivity in industry and provide citizens with a higher quality of life.

“In order to work towards smart cities, there is a need to develop researchers with advanced skills in robotics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and satellite technology.

“To this end, researchers will be trained through complementary skills at UP and the CSIR,” Steyn said.

The training would further develop the skills needed to design, construct, maintain and rehabilitate the roads network in the country.

CSIR smart mobility cluster manager Kenny Kistan said their collaboration was an integral component of the strategic initiative to address transport and infrastructure challenges in the country and continent.

“This will undoubtedly contribute to improving and advancing economic activity. This partnership will enable us to share our expertise to accelerate technology solutions in South Africa’s smart mobility sector.”

UP vice-chancellor and principal Professor Tawana Kupe said while the memorandum was signed as the world fought the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, it required them to look at innovative and unconventional ways of doing things in the higher education sector.

“It is a big wake up call to think and do things differently, if we want to take the lead as South Africa, with our universities playing an essential role in co-creating the continent we want beyond Covid-19,” he said.

Kupe said the collaboration with the CSIR would cement UP’s position as a leader in this field, making a distinct contribution to these goals.

“Collaborations are imperative for finding solutions to national and global challenges.”

CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini said the collaboration with the university had a long history and has always been productive, adding the agreement was a testament to the enduring partnership between the two institutions.

“Our collaborations with higher education institutions such as the University of Pretoria enhance CSIR’s research, development and innovation activities through the production of high-quality knowledge, technologies and innovations in the chosen sectoral areas of focus.”

This article first appeared on Rekord East and was republished with permission.

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