NWU drives research with impact
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!