Architecture Students get their Hands Dirty

Architecture Students get their Hands Dirty
A group of first year Architecture students show off their drawings during an ice breaker workshop.

First year Architecture students recently got involved in an exciting three-day ice breaker programme as part of the Discipline’s Orientation workshop.

Students were put into large groups and asked to brainstorm ideas and create a paper mache model according to the theme of “Otherwhere”.

They were also given specific topics: Ecology – time, evolution; Resilience –emergence, poverty alleviation, the spatial economy, and Values – humility, respect, diversity, ethics, in which they could get as creative as possible with the help of Architecture masters student group mentors.

Day one of the programme saw students create a rough drawing on recycled paper according to their topics and thereafter collectively create a story stemming from the images.

Day two began with students designing and creating a relief sculpture from paper mache with the final day leading to a presentation of the final product to a panel of keen art critics in the Architecture studio.

Group mentor Ms Trishana Naidu said: ‘This programme is great because it allows students to get to know each other better before they actually start with lectures. You also get to know each other’s skills; overall it allows for communication within a team.’

She also advised the students to ‘live and breathe architecture’ and to learn as much as possible.

First year students Ms Caylin Sprighton and Mr Treven Moodley chose Architecture as they hoped to design and create beautiful spaces to live in and future city landmarks that could stand the test of time.

‘Architecture provides the best of both - it allows you to grow academically yet still allows you to be creative. As first years we’re fully aware of the implications and hard work that go into studying Architecture, and if you have passion for what you’re doing then success is guaranteed,’ said Sprighton.

Asked about his future plans, Moodley said: ‘I hope to finish my masters and someday open up my own practice and eventually build a landmark putting South Africa on the map. But, for now, as a student I plan on doing internships to gain experience and make contacts in the industry.’

-          Melissa Mungroo


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I-UKZN yamukela abafundi beziqu ze-masters

I-UKZN yamukela abafundi beziqu ze-masters
Iqembu leziqu ze-masters lonyaka wezi-2014 elamukelwa emkhakheni Wezifundo ngeNani Labantu Nentuthuko.

Isikole SeziFundokuhlelwa Komumo Wezakhiwo Nentuthuko samukele abafundi abasha beziqu ze-Masters emkhakheni Wezifundo NgeNani Labantu Nentuthuko.

Ngesonto lokuqala emuva kokubhalisa, abafundi bathamele izithangami zokucobelelana ngolwazi ezinhlobonhlobo ebezihlelelwe ukubasiza bangene kahle ezifundweni zabo ngoba iningi labo basuke ezifundweni zamabanga aphansi ngqo, abanye baphuma ngaphandle ezindaweni zokusebenza ngakho bebengajwayele ukubhala ngokwemigomo yokubhala kokufunda.

Lezi zithangami ebeziphoqelekile ukwethanyelwa bezigxile emakhonweni okubhala, ukusebenzisa i-Endnote nokubheka ukuthi ingasetshenziswa kanjani iStata ukwakha ukuqonda okufanayo ngokudingekayo ngesikhathi sokufunda.

Ngaphezu kwalokho, kuhlelwe esinye isithangami esibhekene nokungafani ngokobuzwe nobuhlanga kanye nesingeniso sokusebenzisa umtapo wolwazi ebesenziwa ungoti wesifundo, kuhlelwe nomcimbi wokuhlanganisa abafundi kwabuye kwaba nohambo obelubheke endaweni ebalulekile ngokwezifundo zabo eThekwini.

Lezi zithangami seziyingxenye yohlelo lokujwayeza abafundi olwenziwa Yisikole SeziFundokuhlelwa Komumo Wezakhiwo Nentuthuko.

Click here for English version

- uMellisa Mungroo

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UKZN Scientists Undergo Training to Fly Unmanned Helicopter

UKZN Scientists Undergo Training to Fly Unmanned Helicopter
UKZN Mechanical Engineers Professor Glen Bright (left) and Dr Riaan Stopforth learning to fly an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Professor Glen Bright and Dr Riaan Stopforth were in the United States recently undergoing training to fly an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Mechanical Engineering bought a SR100 UAV helicopter from Rotomotion in the USA, which will be used to assist emergency services in search and rescue operations. 

The UAV, capable of flying with a 9kg payload, at a top speed of 40 knots, is a fully autonomous system, allowing it to be instructed to fly to different GPS locations.

A semi-autonomous option is also available, to allow the UAV pilots to fly the helicopter manually while an on-board control system of provides stability for the craft, should there be unstable environmental conditions.

A WEB camera and an FLIR camera can be connected to the platform to navigate and inspect difficult to reach areas.

The UAV is powered by batteries, making it more environmentally friendly and less noisy, allowing it, for example, to surprise poachers or to fly noiselessly above residential areas. Other useful applications include being able to inspect difficult to reach areas such as towers, power lines, high buildings and marshy areas.

The Rotomotion SR100 will be used for demonstrations in lectures and to the public and will form the basis for Mechatronic and Robotics assignments as part of Mechanical Engineering’s teaching and learning curriculum.

It will also be used as a platform for Mechatronic Engineering postgraduate research to be conducted where further modules will be integrated with the flight control system for flight optimisation, search and rescue applications.

- NdabaOnline

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Pregnancy Prevention and STI Awareness Campaign

Pregnancy Prevention and STI Awareness Campaign
Students and peer-counsellors at an anti-pregnancy event on UKZN’s Howard College campus.

The UKZN AIDS programme hosted an STI/Condom and Pregnancy Prevention Awareness campaign on the Howard College campus.

‘It’s Valentine’s week and love is in the air, everyone is focusing on relationships and intimacy, so it is important to remember to be safe and responsible,’ said Ms Noxolo Batembu, UKZN Health Promoter.

The programme included HIV counselling and testing, condom distribution and demonstrations of female and male condoms and dental dams. Information was handed out to students and a quiz on STI info, condom usage and family planning was held. The session was very informative and students won goodie bags after correctly answering questions.

The Campaign aimed to:

·        Promote safe and healthy sexual decisions by reducing social stigma surrounding condom usage,

·        Increase awareness of the importance of knowing your status by testing regularly,

·        Increase awareness of the availability of free, quality treatment in the campus health clinic, and 

·        Promote delayed sexual activity.

Ms Tenjiwe Manana from DramAide encouraged students to know their status and to practice safe sex. Mr Thulani Shusha from eThekwini Municipality distributed pamphlets on STIs to students while Sister Maneli Dlamini of the Campus Health Clinic also addressed students.

Head of the HIV/AIDS Centre, Ms Nomonde Magantolo, emphasised the importance of peer educators in educating students about safe sex practices. ‘Peer education involves peers communicating HIV prevention information and strategies in ways that can lead to behavioural change. Peer education includes a variety of activities – HIV/AIDS awareness events, group discussions, drama, presentations and outreach during the vacation.’

Ms Zinhle Thobeka Madela, a third-year Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology & Community Development) student, is involved in a youth movement, the Vintage Gang. 

The movement targets female students and uses fashion to deal with social issues facing the youth in South Africa, including the phenomenon of “sugar daddies”. Madela explained that campus students used vintage clothes to encourage young girls to be self-sufficient, and to teach them that style doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Visit their Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vintage-Gang/248235211968951

Programme Directors Mr Sbongiseni  Khumalo of the Gay & Lesbian Centre, and UKZN’s Miss Pinky Mnyaka entertained the crowd throughout the programme.

Entertainment was provided by students and included poetry by Brian Gwamanda, Sabelo Mvelase and Mzikantu Thaba. Nkcubeko Diko and Sihle Masinga Dj’ed.

Ms Keshnee Naicker from the Provincial Department of Health delivered the vote of thanks.

The event on the Howard College campus was the result of a partnership between DOH Provincial, the Campus Health Clinic, DramAide, the Gay and Lesbian Centre and the Thembalabuntu organisation

Look out for these events on your campus:

·    First Thing First Campaign - March - This campaign aims to encourage students (especially first-year students) to know their status and to adopt a healthy life style.

·    Zazi Campaign - April 2014 - this campaign promotes self confidence amongst women so that they can draw upon their own strength to make positive choices for their future.

·    Brother for Life - May 2014 this campaign aims to promote Medical Male Circumcision and know your status.

·    MSM/LGBTI - Launch in April.

·    Graduate Alive Campaign - in September - aims to encourage students to take responsibility for their lives and be the change that they want to see.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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Masters Student Runner-up in International Quantum Shorts Competition

Masters Student Runner-up in International Quantum Shorts Competition
Ms Betony Adams.

A masters student in the School of Chemistry and Physics Quantum Research Group, Ms Betony Adams, is the runner-up in the international Quantum Shorts competition for her story titled: Dice.

The story plays on Albert Einstein's famous quote: ‘I …am convinced that He [God] does not throw dice’. The judges commended the story for its beautiful writing.

Dice was the favorite of Ms Mariette di Christina, overseer of Scientific American. She said that what she enjoyed most was ‘a story that went about its business with subtlety and elegance and displayed a strong narrative arc’.

Another review described it as ‘wonderfully written, with vivid descriptions’, with Mr Patrick Nielsen Hayden, manager of the science fiction and fantasy line at Tor Books, saying he liked the way in which the story ‘shifts levels and fakes the reader out’.

The annual international Quantum Shorts competition looks for flash fiction stories of no more than 1 000 words which are inspired by quantum physics.

Adams, who completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Theoretical Physics and a Master of Arts in English Language and Literature at UCT, began her masters research at UKZN in 2012, centring on the possible application of quantum physics in a biological context, specifically investigating whether migrating birds might use quantum effects to navigate in the earth’s magnetic field.

Adams said she became interested in physics after a very brief look at nuclear physics in high school. ‘It seemed wonderful that there should be so much at work beyond the surface of things, as though I had been given some insight into the secret lives of material things. Instead of taking the world as a given, science demonstrates that things don’t merely happen, they happen for a reason.’

Adams said she was particularly interested in quantum biology because it balanced the strange quantum world with more recognisable things.

She was inspired to enter the Quantum Shorts competition following the encouragement of her supervisor, Professor Francesco Petruccione, who knew of her love of writing.

When asked about the inspiration for her short story, Adams said it was the idea put forward by Einstein in his statement responding to the random nature of quantum mechanics fascinating: the idea that God does not play dice with the universe.

‘It is compelling not because it means the universe is random, but because, for that moment before any act of creation, every potential outcome is still possible.

‘Being named a runner-up in the competition means a lot to me and is encouragement to keep writing,’ said Adams.

Many people had inspired and encouraged her during her academic career.

‘My current supervisors, Professor  Francesco Petruccione and Dr Ilya Sinayskiy, have been invaluably supportive. Dr Sinayskiy is always very generous with time spent answering practical questions and Professor Petruccione encourages a wide and questioning interest in different ways of approaching science. I particularly enjoy being part of the Centre for Quantum Technology which is doing really exciting research and is full of interesting researchers.’

- Christine Cuénod

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UKZN Celebrates Legacy of Late Archbishop Denis Hurley

UKZN Celebrates Legacy of Late Archbishop Denis Hurley
At the Colloquium are (from left) Ms Nadia Paul of the UKZN Foundation, Dr Alain Tschudin, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane and Mr Lesiba Seshoka.

In recognition of Archbishop Denis Hurley’s immense contribution to justice, peace and reconciliation, UKZN’s Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies Programme, recently  hosted a two-day Colloquium and Workshop titled: Community Serving Humanity and Beyond – the Legacy of Archbishop Denis Hurley OMI.

The colloquium, held at the Innovation Centre on the Howard College campus, commemorated the tenth anniversary of Hurley’s death and brought together theoreticians and practitioners from diverse disciplines and areas of engagement.

The event also reunited Hurley’s close friends, including Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane; Professor Marie-Henry Keane; Mr Jacques Briard (CIDSE); Dr Ela Gandhi; Dr Paddy Kearney (DHC), Mr Sipho Mnguni and Hurley’s niece Ms Mikaela York, who all discussed the life, times and memories of Hurley over the many years they had known him.

Ndungane, who officially opened the event, has been equated with Hurley in terms of their shared hallmark of “patient inclusivity” in the pursuit of social justice.

Ndungane said: ‘Denis Hurley was an intellectual, a man of integrity who used the Queen’s English very precisely and he was not shy to debate social and political issues.’

Speaking at the event, Executive Director of UKZN Corporate Relations Mr Lesiba Seshoka said UKZN had the privilege of Hurley’s profound wisdom and insights as Chancellor of the former University of Natal.

‘He was indeed the conscience of our University, a conscience that reminded us that the University is at the heart of communities. It was also a conscience that lent credence to the notion of community service that has now been realised across several academic disciplines at UKZN.’

Gandhi shared her lessons learnt from Hurley stating that he had a deep compassion for people. ‘We need to do something to ease the suffering of our fellow man. Hurley’s actions really are a message to all of us and that is, we should act on what we learn and assist wherever possible.’

Academic and event organiser, Dr Alain Tschudin said: ‘Such solidarity, tirelessly promoted by Hurley, is the inspiration that steered our commemorative event, which actively sought to bring academics, practitioners, NGOs and community groups into dialogue to catalyse the meaningful societal engagement that is central to the vision and mission of UKZN.’

Hurley was the Chancellor of the former University of Natal from 1993-1998. Catholic Archbishop of Durban and fearless campaigner for justice and peace, he was recognised both at home and abroad for his promotion of human dignity.

Under his chairmanship, the slogan: “Community Serving Humanity”, was chosen by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference to promote their pastoral plan in the pre-democratic, apartheid South Africa of the 1980s and 1990s.

Tschudin added: ‘Ten years after the passing of Denis Hurley, who steered both the University and his Archdiocese through the stormy years of transition and change, it seems appropriate to re-visit this slogan. To what extent do we live in community? Are these communities of service? If so, whom do we serve; humanity, sectarian interest or individual self-promotion? Going beyond this, “the Arch”, as he was affectionately known, was renowned for his “bigger picture” thinking.’

Regarded as ‘one of our greatest South Africans’ by Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hurley denounced apartheid as “intrinsically evil” and spent his life fighting for the restoration of human dignity for all.

In the 20th anniversary of the country’s fledgling democracy, the event proved to be a fitting celebration that both commemorated and promoted Hurley’s powerful legacy.

-           Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Alumnus Encourages Students to Discover their Potential

UKZN Alumnus Encourages Students to Discover their Potential
Mr Mbusiswa Ngcobo.

Standard Bank Group’s Business Manager and UKZN alumnus Mr Mbusiswa Ngcobo says motivating students to explore the endless possibilities within the accounting profession is crucial in helping shape future leaders of South Africa’s economy.

The 29-year-old Charted Accountant (CA) chose to study for a Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus because of the Institution’s reputation for producing high quality CAs including a large number of black CAs. However, making that career choice was hard due to limited knowledge of career options and a lack of role models offering guidance to students – a situation he is helping remedy through several educational outreach initiatives he is involved in.

‘I attended Umlazi Commercial High School and in my matric year I hadn’t made a career choice. I was extremely fortunate because my matric class was visited by a young man, who is now a CA but was then doing his articles at Deloitte and Touché. He came to speak to us about the accounting profession as a possible career choice.

‘His talk was inspirational,  especially when he spoke about the possibilities for the future and the endless learning and self-development experiences one could gain through pursuing this profession. I went home that afternoon and made a conscious decision to pursue chartered accountancy as a profession and have never looked back,’ said Ngcobo.

Ngcobo recently delivered a motivational talk about his successful career at the South Africa’s Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Thuthuka development programme which was attended by matric pupils from underprivileged schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

He also brought his inspirational message to where his dream began and addressed first year accounting students at UKZN’s College of Law and Management Studies Orientation Day.

‘The University’s culture of promoting balanced lifestyles for its students allowed me the opportunity to learn different cultures and instilled in me the importance of hard work, striving for excellence, inquisitiveness, team player qualities and business acumen,’ said Ngcobo.

‘I enjoy what I’m doing at the Bank however I am very driven towards setting up and growing my own business or enterprise. I am still keen on doing a lot of travelling locally and internationally, but my passion is to motivate and inspire the youth,’ he said.

-          Thandiwe Jumo


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Accounting Postgraduate Students Benefit from Orientation Day Event

Accounting Postgraduate Students Benefit from Orientation Day Event
School of Accounting, Economics and Finance academics with Ernest and Young’s Human Resource Manager Mr Jeremy Beukes at the Orientation.

A prospective employer told Accounting postgraduate students the skills they acquired from their qualification would play a major role in their development into sought after graduates.

During an address to more than 180 students who attended the Orientation Day function hosted by the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Ernest and Young’s Human Resource Manager, Mr Jeremy Beukes, informed the students about the benefit and  competitive edge a postgraduate qualification gave them over their peers.

‘The reason we come to campus and sponsor some of the initiatives in accounting is because we need you and your talent. Eighty percent of honours students signed to Ernest and Young in 2013, passed honours last year and have joined our Durban offices this year - we know that people who do their honours are hard workers and we believe in them and this University,’ said Beukes.

To ensure that students had a holistic view of the year ahead, academics from the School went through the basics including the course outline, time management, how to approach postgraduate tutorials and student support services.

Academic Leader Managerial Accounting and Finance, Ms Patricia Shewell, advised students that embarking on postgraduate studies was a difficult transition but they had to remember that they were not alone as academics were always willing to assist them.

‘We know that this is new to you, that is why we are here to help you cope with the demanding work volume. We spend a lot of time in meetings trying to come up with ways to do things differently but you won’t benefit from the progress and changes we are making if you do not attend lectures and tutorials.’

Professor Nicholas Wood spoke on how the qualification was designed to equip learners with the tools to help them succeed when they write their SAICA qualifying exam to become a Chartered Accountant (CA).

The event was also attended by a past postgraduate student Mr Kyle Mohan who decided to pursue postgraduate studies and is now reaping the benefits and Ms Aliya Vaid from Student Support Services who informed the students about the Colleges support structures.

-          Thandiwe Jumo


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UKZN Pharmacist Recognised in the International Arena

UKZN Pharmacist Recognised in the International Arena
Mr Andy Gray.

Mr Andy Gray of the School of Health Sciences has been awarded the Donald E. Francke Medal for 2014 by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) - one of the largest associations representing pharmacists who practice in hospitals and other health systems.

The award will be made at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting at Anaheim in California later this year.

Donald E. Francke, a key leader of ASHP in its formative years, was noted for his long-time service to American and international pharmacy. This award, established in 1971, credits individuals who have made considerable international contributions to health-system pharmacy.

‘This award is significant as it recognises my contribution to hospital pharmacy at an international level,’ said Gray. ‘While I have always tried to remain rooted in the realities of local practice, I have strived to learn about how pharmacy is practised in other countries and other health systems and to identify ways in which the profession can be advanced for the benefit of patients.

‘Looking at the list of previous awardees, I am honoured to be included among them. I have served with many of them on various committees and have benefitted from those experiences. I hope that I can continue to contribute in the myriad ways they have, across the globe.’

Gray has practiced and been involved in community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and academia/research. As an academic since 1992, he said he has ‘always endeavoured to maintain contact with clinical pharmacy, particularly with hospital pharmacy’. Having served on local and national committees, Gray has remained involved with local voluntary associations such as the South African Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists (SAAHIP).

In this way, he explains, his teaching and research have been informed by the demands of practice. ‘I have also been able to influence practice through my teaching as well as through service and political engagement. I have also tried to do the same at an international level, through my involvement with the International Pharmaceutical Federation.’

Gray said South Africa had made a brave commitment to universal healthcare coverage, in the form of National Health Insurance (NHI). Effectively managing medicines would be critical to the success of that venture, not only because of the high cost of medicines, but also because of the risk associated with their use.

He said there was still room for improvement in particular sectors of pharmacy. Ward-based and patient-directed clinical pharmacy in South African hospitals were still the exception rather than the rule. ‘Pharmacists need to bolster their skills sets, while convincing hospital managers and health authorities that increased attention needs to be given to the safe use of medicines. The focus must be on safety, not just affordability and access.’

Gray said every award, whether national or international, should not only be seen as recognition of past achievements, but also encouragement to maintain engagement. ‘I hope to continue to be engaged with pharmacy - particularly hospital pharmacy - at local, national and international levels, and to continue to influence the practice of my profession, the science that underpins it, and the careers of young pharmacy students and pharmacists.’

Gray says that his advice for future generations remains the same as it has done for many years: ‘Dive in, head-first; get involved; make a difference; and grow in the process.’

* Gray is a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences and is a consulting Pharmacist whose research interests include policy examination in terms of improvement and effectiveness of National Medicine Policies.

-          Zakia Jeewa


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UKZN Cycling Star Displays her Class

UKZN Cycling Star Displays her Class
Ms Lauren Snell winning bronze at the South African Road Cycling Championships.

Lecturer and clinical facilitator in UKZN’s Discipline of Nursing, Ms Lauren Snell, excelled at the recent SA National Championship Time Trial and the National Road Cycling Championship.

Snell won a silver medal at the time trial for completing 24.6km in 40 minutes and 30 seconds and a bronze medal at the road cycling championship in her age category. ‘It was a great confidence booster and I hope to go for gold next year,’ she said.

Snell has been cycling for the past three years, starting the sport socially before taking it up professionally. Her training schedule begins around 3am-4am three or four times a week with sessions lasting about two and a half hours.  She also trains at the weekends when she extends her stints to four hours.

She says the sport is a great de-stressor. ‘I just love it. It really helps you to forget about everything.’

Snell admitted that one of the most satisfying aspects of cycling was the loss of weight achieved. ‘You can eat as much as you want. It is a great confidence booster and it is great to see that you’re improving and doing well.’

Snell said ‘the sport gives you the opportunity to explore different terrain, meet different people from various demographics, and to see new places that wouldn’t usually be seen from the perspective of a regular motor vehicle driver.

‘There is a misconception that academics do not have social lives. I believe that you need a balance between your work life and home. There are so many things that you can achieve, but you just have to want to achieve them. Being driven by your ideologies, you can achieve things through setting goals. You can find things to justify them, whether it be social, emotional, or psychological.’

The sport does involve the risk of injury. Snell was a victim of a hit and run accident in 2012 in which she suffered multiple injuries, including scalp lacerations and facial fractures.

‘The community doesn’t fully support cyclists. It is a challenge because you are always on the road. The community needs to become more tolerant and the government needs to invest more in cycling and becoming more cycling friendly through designating and building cycling lanes for cyclists,’ said Snell

Snell hopes to compete in a world championship cycling event in Slovenia this year, dependent on sponsorships.

In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving and hiking.

-         - Zakia Jeewa

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Exchange Students Enjoy Overseas Adventures

Exchange Students Enjoy Overseas Adventures
UKZN exchange students around the world.

Fifteen UKZN students spent a memorable semester abroad as part of the University’s student exchange programme visiting countries such as the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Ms Zanele Njapha (aka Zayne), who spent a semester at Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, visited Niagara Falls as part of the University’s Orientation programme.

As a way to connect with home and share her culture with other students, Njapha joined the African Students Association at the University of Waterloo and was part of a fashion show showcasing African designs.

Mr Richard Morrow, a student from the College of Humanities, visited Uppsala University in Sweden. Founded in 1477, the University is in a picturesque university town and boasts the founder of Skype, Niklas Zennström, as a former student. 

Challenges faced included dealing with new responsibilities, being far away from home and adjusting to an academic system centred around self-study.

Using Sweden as a base, Morrow was able to travel extensively in Europe. He got to the South Africa-Wales rugby game in Cardiff, visited Edinburgh Castle, rode dog-sleds and saw the Northern Lights at the Arctic Circle. Other highlights included having reindeer pizza and staying in a teepee (tent) at the Arctic Circle.

‘The best part was meeting different people. I have learned things that no book could teach me.’

He encouraged other UKZN students to become part of the exchange programme. ‘To prospective students – go for it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Ms Sithulile Mbali spent four months at Keele University in the United Kingdom. While she was a bit lonely initially, she soon grasped the opportunity and immersed herself in drama, music, dance and having fun. She particularly enjoyed attending seminars as part of film-class.

‘I was a bit too focused, I should have explored more!’ Mbali said. ‘All you need is the right attitude and to open your mind,’ she added.

Ms Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi was at the University of Calgary in Canada where she majored in Political Science and Anthropology. ‘The professors were amazing!’ said Mkhwanazi. She added the standard was highly competitive, with everyone aiming for an A-plus. 'It made me work harder than I do here [at UKZN]'. She also found it necessary to read a lot to maintain good grades.

The weather proved challenging, with temperatures dropping to -30 degrees Celsius! Mkhwanazi explained that the University of Calgary had an innovative way of dealing with inclement weather, including underground tunnels connecting most buildings on campus.

Mr Chadley Allkins was at Drake University in Iowa in the United States and managed to get in a fair bit of travelling in his spare time. He visited San Francisco, Disney World, Los Angeles and Chicago. ‘Seeing the sights and travelling made memories we will carry with us for the rest of our lives,’ said Allkins.

He experienced personal growth while abroad including being independent and taking on more responsibilities. He also learned how to budget and handle his own finances. The highlight of his trip was forging friendships with other students.

Challenges faced by Allkins included an epic 32-hour journey from Durban to Des Moines, Iowa; dealing with diverse room-mates; and “schooling” people on South Africa. ‘People were ignorant of everything that’s not American.’ Lecturers also had contact sheets with student’s photographs and ‘knew everything about you’.

He also noticed that the University was more technologically focused - every student had a laptop in class, and no-one took notes the traditional “pen and paper” way. Students also received quizzes via email.

Millersville University in the heart of Amish farming lands in Pennsylvania in the United States was home for exchange student Ms Philile Kubheka.

‘The education system was very different to South Africa – there was lots of student participation and small classes.’ She also found the workload to be very heavy, but enjoyed the less formal student-lecturer relationship.

Kubheka experienced a culture shock, particularly in adjusting to the food and weather.

Highlights included visiting New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and experiencing snow for the very first time. She also experienced a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and visited an Amish village.

‘The experience was rewarding academically and personally,’ said Kubheka.

Mr Yamkela Zitwana was also at Millersville University where he forged friendships with students from all over the world, including Scotland and Spain.

He found that South Africa had a good reputation in America. ‘They like South Africa. They think we all have gold and diamonds,’ laughed Zitwana.

Zitwana found his GIS classes challenging and thoroughly enjoyed fieldwork and being in the Geography Club on campus.

He advises prospective exchange student to acclimatise, visit places and try different languages, food and culture.

Student Exchange and Study Abroad Co-ordinator, Ms Preshantha Reddy, said exchange students were selected on academic merit, their letter of motivation, academic references and their performance in an interview. 

The applications to go abroad for Semester Two 2014 are now open. Students in their second year of study onwards and who meet the academic requirement of a 65% average are welcome to apply.

For more information on applying for one of the coveted spots, e-mail Ms Reddy at: ukznsep@ukzn.ac.za

-          Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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CAPRISA Hosts Lecture on Contraceptives by US Professor

CAPRISA Hosts Lecture on Contraceptives by US Professor
Professor Sharon Hillier.

Changing the contraceptive mix in high incidence HIV populations was the title of a CAPRISA - hosted lecture by Professor Sharon Hillier at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine,

Hillier’s lecture reviewed HIV statistics and fertility control methods used by women in South Africa and several other African countries.  She reviewed data that suggests that women who use Depo-provera (DMPA), the most commonly used contraceptive method in Africa, had an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection.  This placed young women in Africa with some tough choices in terms of reducing their HIV risk and preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Hillier is the Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs and the Director of Reproductive Infectious disease research at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine. She is also a professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences, and of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry.

Her main research interests focus on infections of pregnancy complications and their part in genital infection and susceptibility to human immune deficiency virus (HIV). She is the principal investigator for the NIH-funded project to develop a topical microbicide barrier against HIV.

Hillier, who received her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Bacteriology and Public Health from the Washington State University of Pittsburgh, has authored and co-authored more than 400 articles for books, peer-reviewed journals and online articles.

Her review of characteristics of women who were more likely to be HIV infected in Africa highlighted that the highest risk was in young unmarried women under the age of 25 years compared to married women and women older than 25.

Her review of published data on fertility control methods showed that Depo (DMPA), which is a hormonal contraceptive, was seen to increase women’s susceptibility to HIV, more so than oral contraceptives.  Hillier expressed surprise that although IUCDs (Intrauterine contraceptive devices) and implants were available to prevent pregnancy, they were not being dispensed.

Based on this concern, the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) that Hillier co-chairs, decided to train the MTN study staff on an expanded contraceptive method mix and set a goal of reducing Depo use by 50% a year ago.  In less than a year, large numbers of Depo and oral contraceptive users have started using Implants and IUCDs through this intervention.

Hillier explained that the use of IUCDs was a highly effective form of birth control, as were Implants, and that staff training was important for implementation.

-          Zakia Jeewa


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International Students get Warm Welcome at UKZN

International Students get Warm Welcome at UKZN
New International students with UKZN staff members during Orientation.

Newly-arrived international students based at UKZN’s Westville campus were encouraged during an Orientation experience held recently to take advantage of all the services and activities offered to them by the University and the city. 

The words of encouragement were from Executive Director, Corporate Relations: Mr Lesiba Seshoka, who said internationals should learn more about South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, the culture and the East Coast. He then wished them well during their stay.

Mr Len Mzimela, Director of University Relations at Corporate Relations, gave a brief overview of the activities internationals could look forward to at UKZN and in the province. He also advised them to take advantage of the events planned by the International office.

Some of the available services presented to students included Risk Management Services, Campus health clinics, societies and sporting clubs, medical health representatives, FNB banking, eThekwini Municipality facilities, and an HIV/AIDS Centre.

Regional Marketing Manager at the eThekwini Municipality, Mr Melusi Khumalo, highlighted places that internationals could visit and learn about heritage routes, wildlife and the landscape of the province. He promised to take the students on a city tour in the Ricksha Bus.

Dr Prem Ramlachan, Head of the Westville campus International Student Office, encouraged international students to participate in intercultural and integrative events hosted by the office.

Students were taken on a campus tour. Other visits included a trip to malls to do shopping.  

Students at the Orientation were from about 15 different countries and included post-doctoral research fellows, postgraduates, undergraduate, and exchange and study abroad students. 

-    Sithembile Shabangu


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Orientation Week at School of Education

Orientation Week at School of Education
Presentation by academic staff regarding B.Ed. structure and phase specialisation.

UKZN’s School of Education on the Edgewood campus welcomed its first year students during the annual Orientation Week.

Large numbers of enthusiastic students, eager to be part of the University family, were addressed by both academic and non-academic staff members.

STAR Programme mentors dressed in visible red and blue T-shirts assisted students in all aspects ranging from academic, emotional, physical and psychological concerns. An informative and guided campus tour proved popular among all first year students.

The week contained presentations, fun walks, music and entertainment, finishing off with sports such as athletics, volley ball, egg and spoon race, soccer, netball and finally a braai to replenish the energy lost throughout the week.

-    Samu Mngomezulu


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Academic Delivers Seminar on Leadership and Fear

Academic Delivers Seminar on Leadership and Fear
Professor Kriben Pillay (middle), with some of the 40 participants who attended the seminar.

College Dean of Teaching and Learning in Law and Management Studies, Professor Kriben Pillay, delivered a seminar on leadership and fear to the staff of the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre in East London recently.

Pillay has had an association with the organisation since its founding in 1995.

‘It’s a very special community partnership for my research as I am originally from East London and Masimanyane was founded by my friend Dr Lesley Ann Foster, who I have known all my life. She was part of the group South African women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006,’ said Pillay.

The seminar explored how effective leadership is impeded by fear and what can be done about this through exercising mindfulness.

‘The staff thoroughly enjoyed the two-hour presentation and could identify with how fear impacts on their work as counsellors and activists dealing with gender-based violence,’ said Foster. ‘This is definitely something we want to embed further. As Professor Pillay pointed out, we cannot lead effectively if we are constrained by fear.’

The Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, which has branches in the Eastern Cape, is one of the largest women support organisations in South Africa, having played an important role in helping draft new legislation supporting the rights of women.

-    UKZNdaba Online


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School of Engineering Parents’ Day and Orientation Programme

School of Engineering Parents’ Day and Orientation Programme
Academics offer advice at Engineering Parents’ Day.

The School of Engineering hosted a successful 2014 Parents Day and Orientation Programme in the UNITE Building on the Howard College campus.

More than 500 parents attended their day and were addressed by the Registrar Mr Convy Baloyi,  and the Dean and Head of School for Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois.  Student support staff as well as faculty staff were present to chat to parents and advise them on University procedures and events.

The Orientation programme attracted large numbers of first year students who were enlightened and advised on life as a student at university.  They were further addressed on the commitments expected from them as students at UKZN and told about safety procedures that had to be followed and maintained at UKZN at all times.

The School thanks all staff for participating in these events and for making them a success.

-   Prashina Budree

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Agrometeorology Professor Wins Award for Best Paper Published in 2013

Agrometeorology Professor Wins Award for Best Paper Published in 2013
Professor Michael Savage.

Professor Michael Savage of the Agrometeorology Discipline in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences won the award for the best paper published in 2013 at the recent 2014 Combined Congress of Soil Science, Crop Science, Horticultural Science and Weed Science Societies in Grahamstown.

The award is administered by the Board of the South African Society of Crop Production.

The paper, titled: “Estimation of Frost Occurrence and Duration of Frost for a Short-Grass Surface”, was published in the South African Journal of Plant and Soil and utilises the web-based teaching and learning technology created by Savage. The web-based system made it possible for the research covered in the paper to use near real-time frost duration data and information displays and alerts.

This is the second consecutive year that Savage has received an award at the Combined Congress – last year he won the award for the best presentation at the Congress.

These awards acknowledge the immense success of the web-based teaching and learning system designed by Savage, who has just completed his MScAgric degree cum laude.

Savage, who started pursuing this degree in the late 1970s, was able to convert his Masters into a PhD after publishing his research in an international journal in 1979. He decided that he still wanted to achieve a Masters degree and submitted his thesis in October 2013. His research included educational, environmental and agrometeorological research which resulted from the development of his innovative web-based teaching and learning system, which has won the discipline much acclaim.

The discipline of Agrometeorology does not currently offer a major or programme; it offers two undergraduate modules as well as allowing Honours students to complete their projects, while based in other disciplines, with an Agrometeorology focus. The discipline has produced three cum laude Masters graduates over the last three years and has eight Masters and PhD students registered for 2014. The discipline’s undergraduate modules have grown from less than 20 students each year to around 80 students, showing the growth in interest in this field of study.

Savage has been particularly interested in how the web-based system has improved understanding across language divides using its particular representations of meteorological data. He recently distributed a questionnaire to students which found that three quarters of them did not mind being lectured in English and have found that Savage’s web-based system has improved their understanding of the field despite the language barrier. Even so, Savage has also initiated an effort to begin translating the English terms found in Agrometeorology into isiZulu with the collaboration of his students to improve the accessibility of the discipline.

The web-based teaching and learning system is also a flagship project for the University Teaching and Learning Office, which hosted a seminar given by Savage on the topic of using real-time/live data to enhance teaching and learning in higher education. The seminar took place at Main Campus, Pietermaritzburg, on Wednesday, 19 February.

-  Christine Cuénod


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