Driven by its overarching aim to increase students’ employability in the field of renewable energies by increasing collaborations between universities and the industry, the Eurydice project delivered a workshop on 26 November 2021. The workshop focused on identifying challenges that are faced by industries in the renewable energy space whilst also proposing projects in which students from partner universities will participate in from 2022.
Attending the workshop were the seven partners of the Eurydice project who among them include three South African universities namely: the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT); Durban University of Technology (DUT); and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Alongside were the international partners such as the Ulm University of Applied Sciences (UUAS); Budapest University of Technology (BME); University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (UASTW); and Deloitte Limited which plays a management role in the project.
To address industry concerns and provide clarity on the relationship between the universities and industry partners, some industry partners from various engineering fields were invited to this workshop to share their inputs and opportunities within their respective industries. Among the invited industry partners were Dr. Peter Mukoma from the CSIR; Thembani Jeffrey the CEO of Jaka energy; Prof. Nhlanhla Mbuli from Eskom; Martin Masemola of Medupe Energy Resources; Phillip Kgosana from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS); Buhle Bujela, a Senior Engineer at Mainstream Renewable Power; Karel Von Eschwege of Central Energy Corporation (CENEC); Dr. Patrick Manditerezza of the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA) at CUT; Dr. Gamuchirai Mutezo, the Chief Operations Officer of Gen Africa 22 ON SLOANE; and Dr. Bertha Dlamini, founding President of African Women in Energy and Power (AWEaP).
Upon requests for project suggestions or industry challenges to be solved by students, inputs around a student challenge to develop a smart low-voltage dc lamp; graduate attributes; and ensuring that students are ready for the world of work in the renewable energy field were shared. Key aspects such as exposure to the world of work for students during their studies were highlighted alongside soft skills such as project management, software usage, and an understanding of legislature or policies that underpin the renewable energy sector. When it comes to power systems planning, radial networks, and medium voltage networks Dr. Mbuli pointed out that students can be trained in areas such as asset planning and maintenance. This would in turn give them a foot into the renewable energy field. Among many other proposed projects was waste management, which also constitutes of renewable energies and is easily accessible to students while affording them a skill that prepares them for work. Dr. Bertha Dlamini emphasized the importance of biogas systems and the participation of women in the energy sector. As engagements continued, it was concluded that a second round of the workshop is needed to help narrow down the contributions by the various stakeholders before a call is sent out to students – requesting their participation.