NWU drives re­search with im­pact

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES -

PROF FRIKKIE VAN NIEK­ERK, North­West Univer­sity’s (NWU’s) deputy vice-chan­cel­lor for re­search, in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy, praises the univer­sity’s re­searchers for achiev­ing record re­search out­puts in all the fol­low­ing: re­search ar­ti­cle equiv­a­lents, books, re­search mas­ter’s de­grees, doc­toral de­grees and to­tal weighted re­search out­put.

He adds, The record num­ber of NRF-rated re­searchers also bears tes­ti­mony to the high cal­i­bre of the our aca­demic staff mem­bers.

Their com­mit­ment has taken them to the pin­na­cle of ex­cel­lence as can be seen from the nu­mer­ous na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards the NWU’s re­searchers have won. This year is no ex­cep­tion, with three nom­i­nated to re­ceive Na­tional Science and Tech­nol­ogy Fo­rum (NSTF) awards.

It is of­ten said that the fu­ture is now. Through their ded­i­ca­tion and ex­per­tise, the NWU’s re­searchers aim to make the fu­ture a bet­ter place for us all with ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions and in­cred­i­ble in­ven­tions that will im­pact on lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties.

Imag­ine liv­ing with­out elec­tric­ity, cars, ATMs or com­put­ers. The world we live in to­day would strug­gle to func­tion with­out these and many other mod­ern ne­ces­si­ties that have made life much eas­ier for all of us.

These are all the re­sults of clever ideas com­ing to fruition over the years, tak­ing shape as smart in­ven­tions built on re­search. Re­searchers find out what is needed, what works, what can be done and how to do it. They con­stantly aim to over­come hur­dles by solv­ing prob­lems and find­ing so­lu­tions.

With­out re­search there would, for in­stance, be no ef­fec­tive medicines, tech­nol­ogy could not be de­vel­oped and earth­bound hu­mans would not be able to ven­ture into space.

This is why the North-West Univer­sity (NWU) as a lead­ing in­no­va­tive in­sti­tu­tion is on a con­stant mis­sion to find an­swers to the press­ing prob­lems and chal­lenges faced not only in South Africa and Africa but also in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The NWU re­alises that cul­ti­vat­ing a cul­ture of re­search that not only pro­vides data but also has im­pact, is para­mount in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in com­mu­ni­ties, in­dus­try and ed­u­ca­tion. It is the in­sti­tu­tion’s pur­pose to ex­cel in in­no­va­tive learn­ing and teach­ing and cut­ting-edge re­search to ben­e­fit so­ci­ety through knowl­edge.

The aca­demic staff on all NWU cam­puses ac­tively spend 40% of their time con­duct­ing re­search, in line with the NWU’s an­nual per­for­mance plan. Some do this in state-ofthe-art lab­o­ra­to­ries and work­shops equipped with fa­cil­i­ties found nowhere else in Africa.

They go out to com­mu­ni­ties and sites, gath­er­ing data in their fields of ex­per­tise and analysing it for trends and pat­terns. NWU re­searchers are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions in the fields of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, space ex­plo­ration, psy­chol­ogy, agri­cul­ture, en­gi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and tourism, to name just a few.

The univer­sity pro­vides an en­vi­ron­ment where these re­searchers can thrive and ex­cel.

The NWU’s four cen­tres of ex­cel­lence in nu­tri­tion, space re­search, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sciences and hy­per­ten­sion re­search in Africa, re­spec­tively, do not only have an im­pact in the coun­try and on the con­ti­nent but also in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Ten re­search units fo­cus on chal­lenges and in­tri­ca­cies in en­ergy and tech­nol­ogy sys­tems; re­formed the­ol­ogy; busi­ness math­e­mat­ics and in­for­mat­ics; lan­guages and lit­er­a­ture in the South African con­text; environmental sciences; law, jus­tice and sus­tain­abil­ity; trans­dis­ci­plinary health re­search; eco­nomic and man­age­ment sciences; ed­u­ca­tion and hu­man rights in di­ver­sity, and tourism re­search in eco­nomic en­vi­rons and so­ci­ety.

The in­sti­tu­tion also boasts 13 fo­cus ar­eas and 11 niche re­search ar­eas, sev­eral cen­tres, plat­forms and in­sti­tutes, as well as a com­mer­cial re­search en­tity.

In the 2016 Sa­sol So­lar Chal­lenge the North-West Univer­sity team broke the record for the long­est dis­tance ever trav­elled by a South African so­lar car, as well as for the long­est dis­tance trav­elled on one day by a South African so­lar car: a stag­ger­ing 611.9km!

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