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ICT Faculty launches 4IR Research Chair



ICT Faculty launches 4IR Research Chair

(ICT Faculty) In collaboration with the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA), the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at TUT introduced the Research Chair in 4IR on Friday, 17 February 2023. It is envisioned that how work ecosystems may look in the future will guide the development of this research chair, which focuses on three key directives: research and innovation, services, and capacity building. 

ICT Faculty

Prof Pius Owolawi (right) with student showcasing Humanoid Robot.

ICT Faculty

when he delivered the opening remarks and welcomed remarks at the launch, Dr Etienne van Wyk, Executive Dean of the Faculty of ICT, set the tone for the proceedings. As a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the world as a whole is being transformed by technological advancements. ICT Faculty

“Technology plays an increasingly important role in promoting economic growth and positive societal change within the 4IR, because of its rapid development and global interactivity,” he said.

The TUT ICT Faculty is the only one in the country, so this faculty is ideally positioned to specialize in a wide range of ICT areas. We have over 7000 students and 130 full-time academic staff and more than 200 part-time staff, allowing us to develop and research innovative solutions in computer science, informatics, networking, multimedia computing, and computer systems engineering, as well as apply emerging technologies. As a result, we are very pleased to be establishing this Research Chair in 4IR in our faculty.”

As the next speaker, Simphiwe Thobela, the Board Chairman of MICT SETA, addressed the audience. The Department of Higher Education and Training approved MICT SETA as the only SETA that established a 4IR unit in 2019. TUT is among the five reputable universities that established 4IR Research Chairs in 2020. Research Chairs in 4IR are intended to enhance research capabilities and innovation in cutting edge technologies, according to him.

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In her keynote address, Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement, stressed that skills acquired today might not match jobs of tomorrow. As a result of emerging technologies and disruptions brought about by 4IR, newly acquired skills may be quickly obsolete.  ICT Faculty

“Our lives, our learning, and our working must be transformed by the use of 4IR technologies.” she explained.

Additionally, she emphasized that universities serve as solutions to societal challenges, not monuments to the elite. Accordingly, at TUT, 4IR-based research is being undertaken to address national challenges in fields such as health, manufacturing, agriculture, and more. Under the National Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, TUT is launching its own Hub in Artificial Intelligence.

ICT Faculty

According to Dr Vathi, the establishment of the research chair in 4IR, through MICT SETA’s vision of cutting edge future skills,

paves the way to much needed research and innovation solutions for:

  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of systems and processes through the development of new technologies;
  • In alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP 2030) and the Sustainable Development Goals (DGS), introduce 4IR technologies that can increase productivity and economic growth as well as job creation and improved standards of living for our citizens;  ICT Faculty
  • The development of 4IR solutions as well as advancements in healthcare, energy, and transportation is crucial to addressing the socio-economic challenges South Africa faces today  ICT Faculty

Prof Pius Owolawi of TUT’s Department of Computer Systems Engineering, holder of MICT SETA 4IR Research Chair, captivated the audience with his presentation. During the last two years, he has already developed numerous student projects under his supervision.

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The following are some of these projects:
  • The MICT SETA Learning Management System
  • Mobile application for the Giz/SANEDI Energy Efficiency Lighting Project
  • Mobile application for work-integrated learning management systems
  • Computer vision drone with cognitive capabilities
  • Drone spraying
  • Irrigation systems based on IoT
  • Project based on reverse engineering
  • Projects involving multiple wavelengths
  • Sower for UAVs
  • Drone delivery
  • Surveying drones for agriculture
  • System for naming animals and conducting population censuses
  • Printed 3D models
  • Keeping your car secure
  • Robots that look like humans
  • Using vision to sort mangoes, oranges, and apples
  • Fruit quality management with apple classification detector
  • Design of 3D multilayers
  • Using computer vision to virtualize switches & relays
  • The production of green energy with no waste
  • Agricultural E-commerce with Ubuntu basket
  • Social networks for agriculture: Agroface
  • Introducing TUT’s chatbot  ICT Faculty


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