Varsity sees reality TV as a way of promoting engineering innovation

Date: Nov 14, 2011 | News

The University of Johannesburg (UJ)’s School of Electrical Engineering has started preparations for the South African Solar Challenge 2012 race.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) School of Electrical Engineering has started preparations for the South African Solar Challenge 2012 race by experimenting with a few cars powered by renewable energies, such as a solar-powered car and a hydrogen-powered car, to establish which model will be suitable for the race.

A significant step in the preparation was hosting a mini race in October, at the university, to test the capabilities of the solar- powered cars and to also get the opportunity to enhance certain aspects of the cars before the actual race.
“We have spent about R2-million, sourced from different sponsors, on the testing of the prototype cars. “The estimated cost of the final product is R5-million, which will be contributed by additional sponsors,” says UJ School of Electrical Engineering head Professor Willem Clarke.
“We have just completed building a pilot design centre, which is jointly funded by telecommunications giant MTN and the university to provide the faculty with infrastructure and support to nurture our creative outlet. Most of the team comprises third-year electrical engineering students, fourth-year students and postgraduate students,” explains Clarke.
“The university has also invested in a tele- vision studio, which was recently completed, where it produces an electrical engineering-based reality show, FuelDuel, which is aired on Tuesdays on Dstv channel 319.
The aim of the studio is to position UJ as an innovation and technology partner in the industry.
The reality show features students in the faculty and aims to make the electrical engineering field attractive to school-going children.
The faculty has now also secured a deal to have the reality show aired on a daily basis on CNBC Africa from April 2012. “Currently, besides other projects, we are working on a proposal for a cooking show to incorporate innovation in cooking to highlight the different facets of electrical engineering in our daily lives,” he adds.
The studio recently produced some technologically advanced animation samples, as it plans to also produce an animation show in the next few months.
The studio boasts the latest technology, including the only known 360˚ high-definition camera in South Africa.
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