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Girls in Africa encouraged to take science subjects

Girls in Africa encouraged to take science subjects

Aug 24, 2015

Pumza Mente from Umtata, a bursary student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is changing her life with a Masters in Chemistry.

Research from the Association of South African Women in Science and Engineering (SAWISE) has shown that Africa, including South Africa, has a critical shortage of skilled and trained women in technology. Young girls in Africa should be encouraged to take science subjects; not only girls who might pursue a scientific or technological career, but also those who would then be enabled to apply scientific concepts in their daily lives.

Pumza is one young lady who is seizing the opportunity of entering the science and engineering space through her Masters in Chemistry bursary at NMMU. The bursary research, funded by REDISA (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa) focuses on how composites play an important role in the production of alternative materials for construction, military, automobiles, space crafts and biomedical applications because of their excellent thermo-mechanical properties.

In this study Pumza uses reclaimed/devulcanized rubber and reinforces it with waste maize stalk fibre to make natural fibre waste rubber composites. Working with the REDISA research group, and other analysts Pumza feels “the work we are doing is going to make a real difference to our communities and environment by changing the way that we look at waste tyres.”

“Once complete my research will educate more people about recycling, however not only waste tyre recycling but other raw materials that are being thrown away at the end of their life cycle. This will benefit the economy of South Africa in improving the way people look at waste and start to find the value in it.”

Pumza Mente-Masters Student at NNMU with REDISA director Stacey Davidson. Pumza Mente in May received an award at the inaugural REDISA Recognition Awards for her research that has contributed to advancement and innovation in the field of recycling and economic development.

Research and Development is a core element of the REDISA Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP), and as skills shortages within sectors such as engineering remains an issue, the private sectors’ contribution to education in the country cannot be underestimated

University of Stellenbosch
REDISA’s research partnership with the University of Stellenbosch sees focus being placed on the establishment of research and development to grow tyre recycling processes.

The research programme entitled: Beneficiation of Waste Tyres from Recycling, involves REDISA providing the University with funding of R10 million over the next four years.

The funding will be used to build knowledge and expertise for the country – specifically dealing with the conversion of waste tyres into chemical products, as well as creating design processes for South African conditions. With REDISA being the first programme of its kind globally, this partnership not only ensures skills development locally, but the advancement of South Africa as leaders in this space.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
At Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the research focus for REDISA is on extending the life of tyres through the development of an environmental rating system. REDISA partnered in 2013 with NMMU to establish an environmental rating centre and during the five year partnership period, REDISA will provide the University funding of R97 million.

The core focus of the centre will be to assess the environmental rating of tyres from production through to destruction, as well as conducting research on how to beneficiate materials from waste tyres. The tyre testing facility will be a first in Africa and the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

REDISA’s partnerships with the Universities will bring about innovative and new insights into the tyre waste industry which will not only serve to grow it, but also assist REDISA with the implementation of its Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP).

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