This academic year, the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering (ACSSE) in the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), is celebrating its fiftieth birthday.
Co-founded in 1970 by UJ Centre for Cyber Security director Professor Sebastiaan von Solms, it was one of the first independent computer science programmes in the country.
"During these 50 years, the ACSSE has grown into an established knowledge centre for all aspects of information technology (IT) and has kept track with the developments in the IT field.
"The ACSSE, in the 1980s, realised the importance of information security and has played a significant role to develop knowledge capacity specifically in this area, and is still today seen as one of the leading departments in South Africa as far as information and cyber security is concerned,” says Von Solms.
He says the department has made significant progress in population, infrastructure and access to technology in the last half-century.
Presently, the academy has four sub departments – Computer Science, Informatics, Information Security and the Centre for Cyber Security.
"Our degree courses have been structured on international standards and benchmarks. Therefore, in 2003, the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree of the ACCSE was accredited by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in the UK.
"At that stage, the ACCSE was the first university in Africa achieving such accreditation and, even today, is one of only two such universities in Africa. Other universities enjoying such accreditation include the universities of Oxford and Cambridge," Von Solms says.
The Centre for Cyber Security has, since its establishment a few years ago, offered a number of short learning programmes (SLPs) in cyber-related fields. There are SLPs in Introduction to Cyber Security, Introduction to Digital Forensics and Introduction to Cyber Security Awareness.
"We are proud to have played a significant role over the past 50 years to provide South Africa with the required skills and knowledge in the field of IT, and will keep doing this in years to come," comments Von Solms.
On degree level, the full time four-year accredited program for the BSc (IT Honours) degree is the flagship programme, but the ACSSE also caters widely for people working full time in industry and government who cannot attend full time classes.
The higher certificate programme in IT is a two-year part time official programme giving students from industry and government knowledge in IT. This programme has been successfully running for several years.
The ACCSE also has a strong international research record, and is concentrating on research in areas related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Postgraduate supervision and research in the areas of Cyber Security, Cyber Counterintelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Software Agents, Web services, Biometric applications and more are actively pursued.
Von Solms respectively marks 50 years as a staff member of the ACCSE.