The metallurgical engineering degree programme offered by the University of Pretoria (UP) Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering, in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT), has been ranked the best of its kind in South Africa for 2020 by tertiary education support organisation the Minerals Education Trust Fund (METF).
"The Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering has a long and proud history of more than 60 years developing engineers who are well acquainted with all five of the existing metallurgical subdisciplines,” says department head Professor Roelf Mostert.
“We maintain very close relationships with industrial partners in all of the metallurgical fields, conducting applied research and design even at an undergraduate level and this ensures that our students leave university as well-rounded and experienced individuals to take up their role as leaders in society,” he adds.
When the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering was established, it was one of the first in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, and it is still a leader in its field today, Mostert states.
"The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the move toward Society 5.0 demand innovation and change to stay relevant in the future. EBIT graduates are being trained in skills for jobs that do not yet exist. We are proud of this achievement by the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering, as this is a testimony to the department's ability to reinvent itself to stay relevant. Achievements like this confirm EBIT's role as a global competitor," notes EBIT Faculty dean Professor Sunil Maharaj.
“The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics remain relatively untransformed. The World Economic Forum, in its Global Gender Gap Report 2020, estimates that only around 14% of the country’s engineers are women,” UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe points out.
“It is encouraging to see that, not only is the UP Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering developing some of the country’s best engineers, but it is also advancing the nation’s transformation agenda. Mostert can be proud of what the department has achieved in the past few years,” adds Kupe.
Mostert highlights that, over the past decade, the department has been intentional about ensuring that the demographic profile of the undergraduate student body reflects the demographics of the country.
“Over the past decade, we have made inroads in attracting students of all ethnic groups and genders. At the start of the decade, 69% of our undergraduate students were black, and this figure has gradually increased to 86.4 % in 2020. The percentage of students in our undergraduate student complement who were women was 52.3% in 2020. Our department’s demographics therefore reflect the national demographics well,” Mostert explains.
Each year, the METF goes through a rigorous process to collect data on all six of the participating national metallurgical programmes and concludes the process with a presentation and interview with the full metallurgical subcommittee being present. To be awarded the number one spot for the second year in a row is a great honour, he concludes.