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The Vaal University of Technology Research Department offers researchers and students access to opportunities for furthering their academic development in a diverse set of research areas. This includes access to: VUT

The Need for Technology in African Schools

Last year was the first year in which a number of schools in the Gauteng area in South Africa began a year without books, pens, pencils and exam pads. Instead, children would work off wireless, mobile tablets, facilitating the inauguration of the first smart schools in the country. Access to all educational content is made available via school-wide wifi coverage, and children are taught all subjects through their mobile devices.

This much-needed change helps to satisfy the need for technology in South African schools. South Africa needs to step-up the technological migration if they hope to contend with the educational systems of other developing/BRICS countries. Additionally, the migration will also give poorer students access to technology, use of which will give them crucial insight into the use and application of modern technological devices. This will help open the door for school students who need access to these kinds of resources if they intend on studying in further fields of Information Technology once finished with their schooling years.

Other subjects will benefit from the mobile integration in the classroom, particularly in subjects like Mathematics and Science. These two subjects weigh heavily on the ability of students to study subjects like Engineering, IT and Medicine in university, qualified skills that are severely lacking in South Africa. Because there are so few Maths and Science teachers in Africa able to teach these important subjects to Primary and High School students, the ability to access the internet from within classrooms gives students access to a wealth of knowledge in these subjects, assisting them in passing even if there are teacher shortages.

To instil further impetus in the studying of subjects like Maths, Science and IT, corporates that work in the field, and suffer most from the shortages, have to ensure that schools are properly outfitted with the skills and resources necessary. If businesses contribute to government drives that encourage students in these fields, they will ensure that more students enter universities equipped to study advanced and technical subjects.

If you intend on studying a Research degree in the fields of IT and Engineering, then make sure you contact VUT-Research as soon as possible.

Alternatively, take a look at our ‘How To Apply’ page.

What Makes a Great Creative Director?

Many students at VUT are lucky enough to be studying a research degree in the arts. From Hospitality to Multimedia we offer a number of courses that gets researchers’ creative juices flowing. Many students of the arts will enter the field expecting to create, invent and discover, helping businesses achieve in the way of new grounds and development.

However, through years of experience, some will become Creative Directors. This position involves overseeing the creative process from start to finish in any number of fields where a creative collaboration of people is necessary for the end product. The job requires hard work, inventiveness, a keen eye for innovation and the ability to carry projects forward from start to finish. Some of you will be eyeing the job description and making this a career goal, but what else makes a great creative director?

Realising It’s Not All Art

The minute you become a director or a manager for a team of creatives you must realise that there will be less creative input from yourself. You’re going to be packaging the work of those around you, so don’t expect to be developing as much as you’ve been used to.

Creative Directing Is Managing

There needs to be a set of standards that you set as a creative director. The work submitted by those in your creative team has to be of a required level. Unfortunately, management also means you are responsible for the hired talent. If somebody is slowing the team down, they may need to move on. Similarly, don’t hesitate to hire creative and hard-working individuals, even if you think that their creative brilliance far surpasses your own. They’ll just make the team stronger and this will be an excellent display of your own abilities.

Your Opinion Matters Most

Although you may not be designing, writing, scripting, shooting and developing in the creative process just as much as you’re used to, you are still afforded the chance to assist the team where it counts. Do some creative work where you can, and when it will have the most impact. The best thing about being the creative director is that you get to decide which production works best for the campaign or product.

You Give the Team the Edge

What does ‘the edge’ entail? Well, the creative director can make those decisions that changes great work into outstanding work. Consider a fantastic project, analyse the process and the end product, and identify where you can make improvements, no matter how small. Also, take the blame for failures. A team respects a responsible leader. Give your employees the space they need to remain creative, create healthy competition, but don’t overwork employees either.

These are just a few ways in which you can become a great Creative Director when you get the chance. Take note: we said ‘when’ not ‘if’. All the students at VUT-Research have the opportunity, the tenacity and the know-how to become great and aspiring leaders in future.

For more information on research degrees in the Humanities and Arts, visit the page here.

Contact VUT-Research today if you have any questions and queries regarding a research degree at our institution.

Renewable Plastics?

Here’s some great news for chemistry students at VUT. According to current news reports, students at Stanford University have come up with a sustainable method of creating plastic. The main ingredients? CO2 and inedible plant material.

The study has since been presented on the March edition of Nature academic journal. Plastic has since been made from a polymer we know as polyester. Polyester is derived from petroleum and natural gas. Manufacturing plastics using petroleum not only generates an incredibly large carbon footprint, but it also uses crucial petroleum reserves, so finding an alternative method to produce plastic is an important scientific development.

The sustainably crafted plastic product developed by Stanford is called polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF). Ethylene glycol and an acidic compound called 2-5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) are used to create PEF. FDCA is produced after processing inedible biomass i.e. plant matter.

The problem that now exists is trying to find an affordable way of producing FDCA. One way this can be done is by using corn syrup, a process that requires a lot of land and energy, which in turn would be unsustainable despite investment by businesses like Coca-Cola.

With enough funding, and an alternative method of creating PEF other than corn syrup, the sustainable and environmentally friendly plastic may just become a commercial reality. Scientists are working on incorporating furfural in the production chain. Furfal is otherwise known as agricultural waste, and when heated alongside carbon and pressurised CO2 the result is a molten salt that converts into FDCA.

Creating plastic using this method radically cuts the amount of CO2 produced during current plastic production. Furthermore, the techniques developed in the study may open the door to new forms of sustainable fuels. The greatest achievement that may be realised, when it reaches commercial production, is when PEF creates a waste product (CO2) which can be used to create more PEF (as CO2 is used in production and is filtered and used by plants).

These new developments are groundbreaking to say the least, and may tickle the interests of chemistry students and lecturers worldwide, as well as those closer to home here at VUT. If you’re interested in studying a postgraduate research degree in Chemistry at the Vaal University of Technology then make sure you contact us today. Alternatively, take a look at the ‘How To Apply’ page.

If you want to find out more about research degrees within the Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences, then hit the link.