Gateway to Africa Partnership Gathers Momentum

Discover UKZN

Role players in the Engineering Partnership
(from left) Mr Trueman Goba of Hatch Goba;
Dr Art Heidebrecht of McMaster University in
Canada; Professor Deo Jaganyi of UKZN’s College
of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor
Cristina Trois and Professor Jane Meyerowitz –
all of the UKZN Foundation, and Dr Ishwar Puri
of McMaster University.

An exciting Engineering partnership between the University of KwaZulu-Natal, McMaster University in Canada and international Engineering giant, Hatch Goba Pty (Ltd), is starting to pay dividends.

The three partners are working hard to establish a powerful, long-term relationship between the two universities which will create a unique educational and research collaboration spanning Canada and Africa.  

UKZN’s School of Engineering signed a Memorandum of Understanding with McMaster University’s Engineering department in October last year, establishing  a five-year partnership which aims to unite the two institutions in several key areas, including enhancing Engineering curricula, encouraging young Engineers, augmenting faculty skills, building on pedagogical tools and, ultimately, mentoring and inspiring South African Engineering leaders of the future.

‘The vision is to harness the existing excellence we have in UKZN’s School of Engineering as well as across our institution,’ said Dean and Head of the School of Engineering,, Professor Cristina Trois. ‘By pooling skills  we have in the field of Sustainable Urban, Infrastructural and Social Development with those of McMaster University, we aim to create a centre of excellence at UKZN that fosters innovation and best practice in curriculum development, knowledge production, research and scholarship.  Together we will build the African City of the Future!’

‘McMaster Engineering is excited to partner with UKZN since our values and social consciousness are aligned,’ said Dr Ishwar Puri, McMaster’s Dean of Engineering. ‘Both of our institutions place student learning in the middle of the education process, and are committed to discovery and innovation.’

The plan is supported by Hatch Goba in South Africa, which is a division of the Canadian Engineering giant Hatch. The Canada-Africa university partnership was inspired by Hatch Goba chairman, Mr Trueman Goba, a UKZN alumnus, who has a vision for societal transformation through engineering and education. The Gateway to Africa Partnership is designed to foster South Africa’s and UKZN’s role in the continent as a hub for the movement of people, ideas, opportunities and higher education.

Faculty and staff from McMaster University have made two trips to South Africa, including a  visit last month, to collaborate with UKZN. Key components of the partnership were considered at a high-level think tank workshop for all stakeholders,  facilitated by UKZN Foundation Executive Director, Professor Jane Meyerowitz.  Hosted by the UKZN School of Engineering, key components considered included undergraduate student exchange programmes, growing and sustaining faculty recruitment and training, fostering student entrepreneurship and offering students hands-on learning through McMaster’s unique programmes.

Representatives from UKZN plan to visit McMaster next month where  Goba will be honoured during the Engineering Faculty’s annual Applause and Accolades awards night.

‘The Gateway to Africa Partnership will enrich educational and research opportunities for students and staff at both UKZN and McMaster,’ said  Trois. ‘We look forward to this exciting collaboration with McMaster Engineering and Hatch Goba in developing a new generation of African engineers who are empowered to become the leaders of the future.’