CUT Develops Solar-powered Charging Stations for Students

CAPTION: CUT has developed solar-powered charging stations for students. Now that the prototype has been developed, the next step is to place a number of these charging stations all over campus to help ensure that students can recharge whenever they need to and don’t run out of battery power at a crucial time.  This truly makes CUT, a cut above!

The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) recently unveiled a prototype, which will allow students to charge their electronic devices on campus, via a solar-powered USB port.

“We have seen a marked increase in the daily use of electronic equipment by students,” says Prof. Herman Vermaak, acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology.   “With this increase, the idea came to develop a device that harnesses energy from a renewable source and gives students an easy, accessible and free re-charging facility.”

Now that the prototype has been developed, the next step is to place a number of these charging stations all over campus to help ensure that students can recharge whenever they need to and don’t run out of battery power at a crucial time.

The Solar-Flower was designed and developed by CUT engineering team, while the steel construction of the device was done at the mechanical workshop at the university’s Bloemfontein campus.

According to Prof. Vermaak, the university’s state-of-the-art facilities, coupled with excellent teamwork among faculty members who are experts in their respective fields, allow CUT to manage projects such as this one – from the inception stage all the way through to the delivery of a product prototype.

“It is important that as technology educators we remain at the forefront of technology, particularly in the field of renewable energy,” says Vermaak.  “This project is a perfect example of doing just that.  Besides providing a practical solution to a growing problem on campus, it also gives us an opportunity to introduce all students and staff members to the use of sustainable energy.”

The Solar-Flower project represents one of the many ways CUT is committed the drive towards a greener future.

Renewable Energy Courses

The Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering are introducing two new courses in 2014 and 2015 respectively.  The first is a higher Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies and the second a Diploma in Sustainable Energy.

These courses were designed to help develop more Renewable Energy Technicians and Energy Advisor/Auditors in South Africa.   Upon entering the job market, the technicians will have the technical knowledge and skills to conceptualise, install and maintain renewable innovations in various urban and rural environments of South Africa, while the advisors and auditors – among other responsibilities – will be equipped to advise consumers on available renewable energy devices.

More about CUT

CUT is a leader in many technology fields ranging from learning programmes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) a broad field in which CUT has about 45% of its enrolments, much higher than many other South African universities. Further, CUT’s research and innovation leadership in many areas, more especially in rapid prototyping and manufacturing is world class. The latter has been honoured by both the Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of its National Medical Device Platform and the National Research Foundation (NRF), with the latter having granted CUT a Chair in this area. Through its social and technological innovations CUT aims to contribute towards the social-economic development in the region as well as in the rest of South Africa and internationally.

IWMSA Courses Aimed At Improving South Africa’s Waste Management Practises

The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) recognises the growing need for a proactive and informed approach to waste and resource management in South Africa. To this end, they offer both accredited and non-accredited waste management training courses, designed to help individuals, companies and government bodies to develop more sustainable waste management practices and policies.

“Pest- and vermin-infestation, toxins from hazardous chemical waste, injury and disease are just some of the ill-effects of poor waste management, and these have far-reaching and highly detrimental consequences,” says Deidre Nxumalo-Freeman, IWMSA President.

“The only way to combat poor waste management practices is by empowering society with the necessary skills, knowledge, confidence and ongoing support, so that they can contribute positively to their workplaces, environments and communities.”

Nxumalo-Freeman is quick to add that an increasing number of organisations are coming on board and acknowledging the need for professional environmental training; hundreds of workers have already benefitted from IWMSA waste management training since its inception.

The IWMSA’s non-accredited waste management course covers the broad aspects of waste management, including waste management principles; waste collection, transfer, and transport; waste minimisation; and waste treatment and disposal. The non-accredited courses in hazardous waste trains learners to identify, classify, handle, transport, treat and dispose of hazardous waste correctly, and in accordance with current legislation.

The course delegates earn credits toward a learnership for the SETA-accredited training courses offered by the IWMSA.  Specific waste-related unit standards are offered ranging from NQF Levels 1 to 4. This outcomes-based training is conducted by professional, fully accredited facilitators, assessors and moderators with tried and tested content and skills that make a real difference to the attendees’ workplaces, communities and careers.

IWMSA waste management training courses are conducted throughout the year at various venues in the Gauteng region, KZN, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

Comprehensive information regarding IWMSA’s training programmes can be found on their website at www.iwmsa.co.za. Alternatively, contact Gail Smit on (011) 675 3462 or email iwmsa@telkomsa.net.

The IWMSA is a non-profit organisation comprising a body of dedicated professionals – all experts in their respective fields – who give freely of their time and experience in order to effectively promote the practice of waste management.

8 Tips for Planning a Memorable Event on a Shoestring Budget

When hosting an event of any kind, the style and execution are crucial, as you are communicating the organisation’s identity directly to its stakeholders. How the event is perceived will in turn influence the perception guests have of the organisation and ultimately impact its reputation.

So what happens when there is a limited budget with high expectations? 

Fhulufhelani Nekhavhambe, Account Manager at Reputation Matters (PRISA PRISM Award Winners and TopSEO for 2012) says it is possible to match high expectations with a small budget, especially with some creative thinking and clever collaboration.

“These days, budgets are being kept as low as possible, yet event organisers are still expected to produce an enjoyable experience for guests,” says Nekhavhambe.

Fhulufhelani shares eight tips for creating a successful event on a shoestring budget:

1. ESTABLISH YOUR BUDGET – Before you do anything else, it is important to establish a precise budget. “Shoestring” to some might seem like a fortune to others, so know exactly how much you have to work with.

2. DEFINE YOUR GOAL – Next, know what it is you would like to achieve with that money. What is your main objective? Do you simply want to introduce your new product to 50 moms? Do you want 1000 students to try your new soft drink and then tell their friends about it? Or do you merely want to give your top 20 clients a great experience, thank them for their support and brag a bit about your latest achievements? Define your exact objective in as few words as possible and keep it top of mind throughout the process.

3. GET CREATIVE – Now that you know what you are trying to achieve and how much money you have to work with, it’s time to get creative. Every problem has a solution, and with some brainpower and initiative – and a touch of luck, (and of course Reputation Matters by your side!) – you will be surprised how many fantastic solutions there are to your budget problem. Brainstorm all the main elements of your event (venue, catering, invitations, entertainment etc.), either in one go or in separate sessions. Involve as many people as possible and write down every single idea, without analysing or judging it. Do it separately, as it requires a different frame of mind.  The next tip (finding a venue) is a perfect opportunity to practise your creative problem-solving.

4. FIND A COST-EFFECTIVE (BUT UNIQUE) VENUE – Upmarket establishments that are frequently used as event venues tend to be expensive. Rather think of a unique venue that will add to the success of the event without breaking the bank. For instance, if your launch is related to gardening, why not host it at a beautiful nursery or botanical gardens? Depending on your objective and theme, you could consider anything, including clubhouses, hangers, fruit farms, private homes, beaches, schools, karate studios, rooftops, smallholdings – any of these could be turned into a unique, cost-effective venue. Think outside the box!

When analysing your list of ideas, keep the following in mind: location, relevance to event theme, accessibility, safety and of course the availability of the facilities you’ll need to host your event.

Also consider a venue you could use at a time of day when the establishment is closed, thereby not cutting into their profit-making time.

If you do need a “regular” venue, it helps to establish a relationship with a specific venue, who might give you a great price for your repeat business.

5. COLLABORATE AND SHARE COSTS – To get more bang for your buck, you could consider co-hosting the event with a company or brand that is aligned to your own.  Not only do you have someone to share the costs of the event, you can also tap into one another’s databases and further expand your network. When you pool resources with a company in synergy with your own, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.

6. TRADE – Trading is happening more and more these days, especially among small businesses. If, for instance, you are launching a new clothing brand, why not find an up-and-coming musician who would be more than happy to spend two hours singing for your guests in exchange for a store voucher?  Maybe your event is to launch a new gym or yoga studio. You could find a caterer who would be delighted to do all the event’s catering in exchange for free yoga for six months. Everybody wins. If you need a photographer, rather than hire an expensive professional, find a couple of photography students who need to build up their portfolios and would be willing to take pictures for free.

7. DON’T ADVERTISE – NETWORK! – If you are inviting the general public to the event, you might consider the traditional advertising routes, i.e. newspaper and press advertising. But these are expensive options and why spend your precious budget on advertising when there is a free platform you can use? We’re talking about social of course. Create the event on Facebook and then get it out there to all your contacts, and tweet a link to the page so your twitter followers are aware of the event too. Ask other companies if you can advertise your event on their page – if it is aligned with their values and business, chances are they’ll say yes. There are also many websites where you can list your event at no cost – Google your location and “free event listings”. Many radio stations have online calendars where you can post your event and some of the local stations might even be happy for you to talk about your event on air. The saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” certainly applies here.

8. FIND ALTERNATIVES TO PRINTING – If you need to get a lot of information across to your guests, but don’t have the budget to print 20-page, full colour glossy brochures, get creative and find alternatives that might achieve the same result, at a fraction of the cost. You could for instance, have all the information put onto a CD – your only printing costs would be for the digitally printed “CD covers”. Or you could present the information to guests at the event and follow up with an email, reiterating the points you want them to remember.  Whatever you decide, make sure that your idea is relevant and adds to the brand, the event theme and the objective.

For more information on managing your events and investing in your reputation, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or call 011 317 3861. We are also on Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey

About Reputation Matters

Reputation Mattes is not just another PR company, we are so much more! We measure five core dimensions of the organisation using our unique RepudometerTM research tool to understand what is building or breaking down the reputation.

We have been looking after reputations for the past eight years, with at least a threefold return on investment for our clients.

Reputation Matters joined ECCO International Communications Network in 2012 and represents the network in South Africa.

For more information about reputation management visit www.reputationmatters.co.za. We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey

120 learners from Blackheath Primary tackle litter problem in canal clean-up

Caption: Learners from Blackheath Primary School sacrificed time out of their weekend this past Saturday to take part in a clean-up of the Blackheath river canal. Peninsula Beverage Company (PenBev – local bottler and distributer of The Coca-Cola Company products in the Western Cape) in partnership with The City of Cape Town’s WasteWise Programme assisted the learners by providing transport, food and refreshments to all who participated in the clean-up.

A 250 strong team of eager environmental enthusiasts consisting of Grade 7 learners, teachers, PenBev employees and local community members gathered at the Blackheath Community Centre on Saturday morning, to show their support for a cleaner, greener community. The participants were treated to music, dance and fun activities during the ‘Drain to Ocean’ Educational Presentation by the City of Cape Town, where the effects of dumping and littering were explained. The students were given a safety talk on how to collect the litter and what types of hazardous material should not be collected. After the talk, learners were accompanied by WasteWise and PenBev representatives to collect gloves and bags for cleaning the canal of all unsightly litter and waste. The learners excelled in the environmental education initiative and enjoyed making a noticeable difference within their community.

Blackheath Primary School runs adjacent to the canal-area where much litter and waste accumulates over time. The litter problem in the area is not only unsightly, but also unhygienic for the learners and residents of Blackheath. Mr Quentin Johnson, Principal of Blackheath Primary comments, “We are thrilled with the turn-out and appreciate that WasteWise approached our school to educate the learners on why it is important to look after the environment, and very appreciative that PenBev made this possible. We trust the learners can take home what they have learnt today and continue with environmental awareness when faced with litter pollution, and help make our streets a cleaner place to live.”

PenBev is proud to have a lasting partnership with The City of Cape Town and its WasteWise initiative. This partnership contributes to educating communities about the importance of looking after our beautiful country. “This is a great step in fostering clean habits among local residents and the youth. We are delighted to help educate learners about the environmental impact of litter and how this leads to a society with little respect for their living area. By aiming these initiatives at the younger generation, we hope to instil a sense of consciousness for our earth. This initiative forms part of our ‘me (people), we (community), world (environment)’ initiative, which aims to uplift the people and environment in which we operate.” comments Denise Green, Corporate Social Investment Manager at PenBev.

WasteWise is a public education and awareness programme dedicated to the prevention of littering, minimisation of waste and the growth of recycling efforts. “WasteWise is thrilled to have PenBev on board for this initiative. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Blackheath Primary and all the eager students and teachers. It is of vital importance for companies, schools and citizens to care for their surroundings. We ultimately seek to create a culture of environmental awareness and responsibility amongst all communities in the Western Cape to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill sites,” comments Rodney Leak, Schools Co-ordinator for WasteWise.

The City of Cape Town in conjunction with the WasteWise Programme sponsored a ‘Commit Tree’ tree replica to the school that allows all students who participated in the clean-up to write their names on. This serves as a reminder of the pledge they took in being environmentally conscious.

After the event, it was clear that this important message was delivered. The canal was clean and the students had a story to tell their friends and families.

For more information about Peninsula Beverages, visit www.penbev.co.za and visit WasteWise on www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/smm/wastewise/index.htm

Photographer: Craig Wilson

CUT at Forefront of Business Ethics Education

Caption: Business Ethics Award winners – Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT)’s students from the Departments of Accounting and Internal Auditing and Financial Information Systems were recognised for their presentations on ethics at the annual Business Ethics Awards function, which was presented in conjunction with PwC. CUT is still the only Technology University in the country to offer this level of practical learning as part of its curriculum.

Front row (from left to right):  Audrey Kakora, Esther Pasmene, Joy Johnson, Patience Shata, Mugelane Witbooi and Simone Abrahams.

Back row (from left to right): Schalk Maartens, Werner Landman (PwC), Leandi Lubbe (CUT), Riche van Wyk (PwC)

Caption: Business Ethics Award, Best Presenter – Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT)’s student, Patience Shata from the Departments of Accounting and Internal Auditing and Financial Information Systems was recognised for her presentation on ethics at the annual Business Ethics Awards function, which was presented in conjunction with PwC. CUT is still the only Technology University in the country to offer this level of practical learning as part of its curriculum.

From left to right: Werner Landman (PwC), Patience Shata (best presenter), Leandi Lubbe (CUT), Riche van Wyk (PwC)

Photographer: Irvin Howard

Accounting and auditing firms worldwide are placing a much stronger emphasis on the importance of business ethics within the industry.  Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) is answering the call through course material and initiatives designed to ready their students for the “real world” by arming them with relevant, practical ethics education.  

While entrepreneurial and professional skills are vital to good business, business ethics can make or break any affiliation.

To ensure that their students are able to make informed decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas once they join the workforce, CUT includes a compulsory Business Ethics module in the first semester of all B.Tech Programmes offered by the Departments of Accounting and Internal Auditing and Financial Information Systems.

This important and exciting module includes theoretical information on topics such as ethical decision making, resolving ethical dilemmas, social responsibility and corporate governance.

But the real beauty of the course is its practical component; an incentive-driven project devised in collaboration with international audit firm PwC.  The project allows final year students in business ethics the opportunity to integrate their theoretical knowledge with real-life ethical dilemmas, with awards given for the best project presentations.

First-of-its-kind in South Africa

The project is now in its second year, and CUT is still the only Technology University in the country to offer this level of practical learning as part of its curriculum.

To partake in the project and awards, students form groups of six to eight members and select any topic related to a business ethics issue to work with. They then conduct extensive research and present their findings to an interdisciplinary panel of judges consisting of staff members from CUT, PwC and the University of the Free State.  The best presentations are rewarded at the annual Business Ethics Awards function, which this year took place on 15 May 2013 in the Japie van Lill Auditorium of the CUT.

“The main purpose of the project is to raise awareness among accounting students regarding various unethical aspects occurring in both the public and private sectors,” says project leader and business ethics lecturer, Ms Leandi Lubbe.  “We are really proud of the success of this exciting project in partnership with PwC.”

Over and above the practical experience gained from the project, students also benefit from being forced to work in groups, think laterally, learn to scour the South African and international media and debate vigorously on their chosen topic.

For more information about CUT visit www.cut.ac.za, CUT are also on Twitter @cutfsonline and www.facebook.com

International survey finds journalism is going “social”

Journalists across the globe are using social media in their daily working life and feel that it is complimentary to traditional media rather than a threat.

Research by global public relations group ECCO International found that day-to-day journalists are undertaking background research, rapid information gathering and opinion mining using social media on a daily basis. However, more interactive methods of social media such as crowd-sourcing for research, asking interview questions and liaising with PRs featured much lower on the breakdown of their daily use. Of those surveyed, 87 per cent view social media as being complimentary to traditional journalism as opposed to a threat.

Over 1100 journalists were surveyed from 12 countries about their social media habits and preferences. Facebook dominated as the most popular social media platform for journalists internationally (86 per cent) apart from in the UK where LinkedIn crept ahead. Twitter was voted the second most popular tool among journalists (61 per cent), apart from in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary where the younger platform google+ was more popular.

However, the online tools journalists use for researching varied internationally. In the UK (75 per cent), UAE (93 per cent), South Africa (68 per cent) and Sweden (50 per cent), Twitter came out on top, while in the Eastern European countries (Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary) Twitter’s popularity came second (25 per cent) to Facebook (71 per cent).

As for how social media is changing the way journalists interact with communications professionals – journalists in the UK placed less importance on personal contact and phone conversations (59 per cent), with email cited as the most important source for their day-to-day job (80 per cent), while social media featured very low (17 per cent). Whereas their Polish counterparts still favour more traditional methods of communication, with (90 per cent) citing personal contact and phone conversations as the most important source for their day-to-day jobs. The top three most important sources for journalist across the globe were email (75 per cent), search engines (68 per cent) and personal contact (70 per cent).

Social, but cautious

When it comes to the potential pitfalls of social media, journalists appear to be approaching it with care with over three quarters (77 per cent) of those surveyed agreeing that the speed of social media and lack of control over sources will be a problem for quality standards in journalism, except in Poland where over half (55 per cent) agreed with this statement.

Four in ten journalists agreed that certain skills were needed to do research or write for social media. However, over three quarters of journalists surveyed stated that they have never been on any social media related training. Despite this, most journalists feel that their knowledge of and competency in using social media is average (55 per cent), rather than very good (37 per cent) or bad/ non-existent (8 per cent).

“Very often we as South African’s sell ourselves short,” says Regine le Roux, Managing Director of Reputation Matters (ECCO representative in South Africa); “but by being a part of the international communications network and having the opportunity to participate in these global surveys, shows how globally competitive we are and that we are right up there when it comes to international trends.”

Lutz Cleffmann, Marketing Director of ECCO International, adds: “The survey shows clearly that social media has become an important channel of interaction with journalists, but the importance of channels varies very much from country to country. Therefore local knowledge stays an indispensable prerequisite of success.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

The survey was conducted in January and February 2013, with a total of 1149 participants from 12 countries. The countries that participated were: Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia, United Arab Emirates, USA, Poland, Hungary, South Africa, United Kingdom and Italy.

ECCO International Public Relations is a network of independent PR and marketing communications agencies located in over 40 countries around the world and headquartered in London.

About Reputation Matters

Reputation Mattes is not just another PR company, we are so much more! We measure five core dimensions of the organisation using our unique RepudometerTM research tool to understand what is building or breaking down the reputation.

We have been looking after reputations for the past eight years, with at least a threefold return on investment for our clients.

Reputation Matters joined ECCO International Communications Network in 2012 and represents the network in South Africa.

For more information about reputation management visit www.reputationmatters.co.za. We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey

Central University of Technology, Free State looking forward to working with the Minister of Higher Education

Bloemfontein – The Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande has withdrawn his appeal against the judgement in which the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) won their court case preventing the institution from being put under administration.

“We welcome the decision by the Honourable Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, to withdraw his appeal against the August 2012 judgement that nullified his decision to place the CUT under administration,” says Prof Thandwa Mthembu, CUT’s Vice Chancellor and Principal.

“The Minister’s withdrawal of his appeal is the best course for all the parties involved in this unfortunate episode. Both the Department for Higher Education and Training and ourselves, CUT’s leadership, can now focus on our mutual and shared purpose of providing excellent education to our students.”

Mthembu urged, “we should quickly put the 2012 events behind us, and concentrate on building a stronger foundation for realising CUT’s Vision 2020 of becoming an innovative knowledge centre for contributing to our region’s and national development agenda.”

For more information about CUT visit www.cut.ac.za

More about CUT

CUT is a leader in many technology fields ranging from learning programmes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) a broad field in which CUT has about 45% of its enrolments, much higher than many other South African universities. Further, CUT’s research and innovation leadership in many areas, more especially in rapid prototyping and manufacturing is world class. The latter has been honoured by both the Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of its National Medical Device Platform and the National Research Foundation (NRF), with the latter having granted CUT a Chair in this area. Through its social and technological innovations CUT aims to contribute towards the social-economic development in the region as well as in the rest of South Africaand internationally.