Apr 06, 2012
Wits hopes ‘science stadium’ will set stage for new science championsBack
Construction|Africa|Education|Engineering|Health|Industrial|Innovation|PROJECT|Screen|Africa|Equipment|Environmental|Kevin Balkwill|Melanie Keartland
The facility also has a number of different laboratories, specifically chemistry (376 seats), biology (300 seats) and physics (408 seats), and holds 23 tutorial rooms, some sponsored by industrial companies, seating between 30 and 50 students each. The projected occupancy of the tutorial rooms and lecture auditoria will be 95%, she adds.
“This facility is specifically for first-year engineering, health sciences and science, but it is also focused on liberating space in the existing discipline-specific buildings for research and postgraduate studies, and providing the postgraduate scientists of the future,” she says.
The university has about 3 200 first-year sciences students, which is a significant portion of its total 30 000 student complement, and aims to increase this number to 5 000, making the development of the facility a priority.
“We are a research institution and must ensure that we have postgraduate students, specifically master’s and PhD students, to conduct primary research.”
Lectures are recorded as podcasts and there are cameras above the lecturers to enable them to project demonstrations, experiments and calculations onto a big screen, so that all the students can participate. Further, the lecture halls also have equipment that enables lecturers to use input from students, in the form of multiple-choice feedback, to ascertain whether students have grasped key concepts.
“We now have space in the physics and chemistry buildings for laboratories for postgraduates. We expect to have more postgraduates over the next few years. Not only are we dealing with the quantity issue, but because we have consolidated our teaching, we are also dealing with the quality of graduates. “We are also starting to refur- bish the discipline-specific build- ings to make additional space for more postgraduate laboratories,” she details.
The new science stadium enables more effective teaching of undergraduates, which means that undergraduates are better prepared for postgraduate studies, says University of the Witwatersrand head of the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences Professor Kevin Balkwill.
“We attract a number of postgraduate students from Africa and across disciplines but the bulk of our postgraduates come from our own students,” he notes.
“The laboratories in the science stadium are specifically for under- graduates and are much more spacious than our previous laboratories.”
There is a significant interlock between the university’s sciences and engineering disciplines, says Keartland, adding that the university aims to consolidate its science libraries and open a single, modern library near the stadium.
Balkwill cites the numbers of natural sciences students, noting that while mathematics has a flat growth rate for the year, geo- logical sciences have enrolled 140 students, at least double their usual 60 complement.
“We have 530 first-year students in the introductory life sciences course who will enter into the fields of anatomy, physiology, microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, plant sciences, zoology, and environmental science, ecology and conservation. “We have had to do a reshuffle of first-year health sciences practical classes because we could not cope with the numbers.
“One of the former first-year laboratories has already gone to molecular and cell biology, because, instead of having 119 second-year students, as they did last year, they have 190 this year. On the postgraduate side, one of the former first-year labs will be used to house postgraduate students of three research groups,” he emphasises.
“We now have space to accommodate postgraduate students and will need to increase our staff,” he adds.
“Further, we are emphasising research readiness in our undergraduate teaching. The science stadium facilitates better first-year teaching and [should improve] pass rates, which, in turn, leads to better development of high-level skills in more second- and third-year students. This will mean that students graduating with degrees will be better prepared for undertaking research within their postgraduate degrees,” he says.
“It is not just the skills but the ethos that university education creates. People who have gone through university, for example engineers, are more likely to become entrepreneurs, to develop new technologies, new businesses, innovation and research and development,” says Keartland.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Other Video News
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2016: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Automotive 2016 Report provides an overview of South Africa’s automotive industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into local demand and production, vehicle imports and exports, investment and competitiveness in the sector, as well...
Energy Roundup – April 2016 (PDF Report)
The April 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for March 2016 and includes details of a North Gauteng High Court Judge’s dismissal of a court application to postpone the 9.4% electricity tariff increase, which the National Energy Regulator of South...
Electricity 2016: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2016 report provides an overview of South Africa’s electricity sector, focusing on State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Energy Roundup – March 2016 (PDF Report)
The March 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for February 2016 and includes details of the Department of Energy’s plans to announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the coal independent power producer procurement programme; the Council...
Steel 2016: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2016 Report examines South Africa’s steel industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the global steel market and and particularly into South South Africa’s steel sector, including production and consumption, main...
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
This Week's Magazine
The two spent-fuel pools at Eskom’s 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be full by 2018, increasing the urgency on the State-owned utility to begin pursuing alternative storage options. Koeberg has, over the past 32 years, accumulated a...
South Africa lacks the skills necessary to implement the government’s plan to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity, warns nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford. “Apart from the concern about the affordability of the programme,...
Cybersecurity multinational Check Point has released its latest 700-series cybersecurity systems for small businesses, which draw on its international threat intelligence to provide up-to-date cybersecurity, says Check Point South Africa country manager Doros...
Daimler Trucks and Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) saw a marked slip in new-vehicle sales in 2015 compared with 2014, with sales dropping from 5 897 units to 5 300 units. The decline came as the South African new truck and bus market declined from 31 558 units in 2014...
Group of 20 (G-20) economies threatened to penalise havens that don’t share information on their banking clients after the leak of the Panama Papers provoked a global uproar over tax evasion. The G-20 will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and...