Researchers Urgently Needed to Drive Innovation

The Faculty of Applied and Computer Science hosted its very first public lecture: “Growing the next generation of researchers: The National Research Foundation (NRF) perspective” on 21 June at the VUT auditorium 100. The guest speaker of the day was Dr Makobetsa Khati: Executive Director of the Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence (RCCE) directorate at NRF.

The topic was said to be articulated from the NRF’s vision for 2020 which encourages the renewal of the academic research enterprise and the absorptive capacity of Universities through critical engagements. The aim is to build a critical mass of skilled and capable researchers and create a more nuanced and focused funding instrument for bursaries and scholarships for the next generation of researchers in support of the national transformation agenda. There is also the need to increase the quality and number of PhD graduates per year.

“Fundamentals and building blocks are needed for someone to be of significance in any sphere of life. Passion, integrity and ethics form the foundation while supervision and the ability to understand the global brand is imperative. People don’t want to know how much you know but how much you care. If you have these, the sky is the limit, said Dr Khati.

Ms van Wyk the Acting Head of the Biotechnology Department said: “The Vaal University of Technology has focus areas in the Applied and Computer Sciences Field; those being plants, genetics, bio and tissue regeneration which has led to a huge increase in the number of postgraduates doing research. The staff members are now improving their qualifications, which is good to see because the National Research Strategy clearly indicates that human resource is a critical factor in wealth creation and innovation. We are bound to live up to that.”

A panel of three experts: Dr S Nelani, Dr A Ofomaja and Ms C Baburam also shared their thoughts and findings on the topic and agreed with the main speaker that passion and the right environment are indeed the driving factors for further research. Prof Michael Pillay: Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied & Computer Science, closed the lecture by thanking the main speaker and everyone who attended.