The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, MP, has gazetted the National Scarce Skills List: Top 100 Occupations in Demand and called for comments from all interested parties. Electrical engineers are listed first on the list, followed by civil engineers and mechanical engineers. Post by Electrical & Electronic Engineering – Stellenbosch University.
“Hierdie prys kry jy net een keer in jou lewe!” sê prof Maarten Kamper van die Department Elektriese en Elektroniese Ingenieurswese. Hy en sy PhD-student, Johannes Potgieter, het onlangs die eerste prys ontvang op ’n internasionale konferensie vir hul artikel oor ’n nuwe soort windgenerator. Die Elektriese Masjienekomitee (EMC) onder die Vereninging vir Industriële Toepassings (IAS) van die Instituut vir Elektriese en Elektroniese Ingenieurs (IEEE) het die toekenning gemaak by die IEEE se internasionale Energie-Omsetting Konferensie en Uitstalling (ECCE) wat onlangs in Denver, Colorado gehou is. Hierdie flagskip-konferensie van die IEEE het vanjaar 1 300 afgevaardigdes gelok. Die artikel-toekenning, eerste prys, is toegeken vir die tegniese bevoegdheid van hul artikel, Optimum design and technology evaluation of slip permanent magnet generators for wind energy applications, wat tydens die ECCE konferensie in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2012 aangebied is. (By ECCE konferensies word artikels na afloop van die konferensie evalueer en word pryse by die volgende jaar se konferensie toegeken.) Hul wen-artikel het gehandel oor die optimale ontwerp en evaluasie van ’n komponent van ’n nuwe tipe glip-sinchroon permanente magneet windgenerator waaroor in 2010 vir die eerste keer publiseer is. “Hierdie nuwe tipe windgenerator verskil van die konvensioneles in dié opsig dat dit geen ratkas of drywingselektronika-omsetter nodig het nie. Daar is groot voordele verbonde aan die afwesigheid van ’n ratkas en ’n drywingselektronika-omsetter aangesien dit die betroubaarheid asook die koste van die lewensiklus van die windgenerator verbeter. Ons werk al sedert 2009 aan die konsep,” sê Johannes Potgieter. Hierdie unieke stelsel is al op die SA navorsingsbasis op Ararktika getoets waar dit goed gewerk het. Tans word twee 15 kW-prototipes op ’n windturbinetoetsterrein op Mariendahl, een van Universiteit Stellenbosch se proefplase, getoets. Die krag wat die generators opwek, word deur die proefplaas gebruik. Die tegnologie is gepatenteer en ’n afwentelmaatskappy, SWET (Stellenbosch Wind Energy Technology), is gestig om die tegnologie te kommersialiseer. Die hoofaandeelhouers is INNOVUS en die Tegnologie-Innovasie-Agentskap (TIA). Op die foto links is een van die twee windgenerators wat tans op Mariendahl getoets word. Op die foto regs staan prof Maarten Kamper en Johannes Potgieter by die nuwe tipe windgenerator, elkeen trots met ’n wensertifikaat in die hand. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A once in a lifetime prize. This is how prof Maarten Kamper of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering described the first prize he and his PhD student Johannes Potgieter received for their article on a novel type of wind generator at an international conference recently. The Electrical Machines Committee (EMS) under the Industry Applications Society (IAS) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) made this award at the IEEE’s international Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE) held in Denver, Colorado. This year some 1 300 delegates attended the IEEE’s flagship conference. The article award, first prize, was awarded for the technical competence displayed in the article, Optimum design and technology evaluation of slip permanent magnet generators for wind energy applications, that was presented at the ECCE conference in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2012. (At ECCE conferences articles are evaluated after the conference, with prizes being awarded at the following year’s conference.) The winning article dealt with the optimum design and evaluation of a component of a new type of slip-synchronous permanent magnet wind generator. Their first publication on this subject appeared in 2010. “This new type of wind generator differs from the conventional kind in this respect that it does not need a gearbox or a power electronic converter. There are great advantages attached to the absence of a gearbox and power electronic converter as this improves the reliability and the life cycle cost of the wind generator. We have been working on this concept since 2009,” says Johannes Potgieter. This unique system has already been tested on the SA research base in Antarctica where it performed well. At present two 15 kW prototypes are being tested at a wind turbine testing facility at Mariendahl, one of Stellenbosch University’s experimental farms. The power generated by these generators is utilised by the farm. The technology has been patented and a spin-out company, SWET (Stellenbosch Wind Energy Technology), has been established to commercialise the technology. The main shareholders of SWET are InnovUS and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). Photograph: The wind turbine testing facility at Mariendahl. Photograph: Prof Maarten Kamper and Johannes Potgieter with the novel wind generator, each proudly displaying their certificate of recognition for their winning article.
Have you ever wondered: How does the Square Kilometre Array allow us to ‘see’ radio waves? André Young and David Davidson, two of the SKA specialists, explain the engineering components for the Square Kilometre Array in a paper intended for school children – see this paper which explains how the SKA project ‘sees’, for an explanation that even your mother will understand. For more info visit www.facebook.com/SKASOUTHAFRICA And for some of our recent research on this topic, visit www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=152028048331439&set=a.128928643974713.1073741828.128851897315721&type=1&theater and www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=152620188272225&set=a.128928643974713.1073741828.128851897315721&type=1
Our Electrical & Electronic Department’s Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) made international news on two fronts in the past few months. Our ESL student team won first prize in the student division of the Mission Idea Contest, held at the US/Japan Nanosatellite Symposium in Japan late last year. Their award was for their article entitled “The Outernet: A novel satellite communication relay constellation”. They competed against 71 other teams, from top universities across the world. Not only did they receive a certificate and 50 000 Yen in prize money, but they also gave the world a taste of what we are capable of at Stellenbosch University. Other exciting news for our department is that the ESL’s suggestion for a 2U-Cubesat, which will be known as ZA-AeroSat, has been accepted by the Von Karman Institute in Brussels. This will make our Cubesat one of 50 to be launched in 2015, as part of the QB50 constellation aimed at gathering data about the higher levels of the ionosphere. The Cubesat will operate at a height of 200km to 350km above the surface of the earth. Funding for this project has been approved by the Department of Science and Technology, and the project will be undertaken in collaboration with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Read more about our winning Mission Idea Contest student division entry here: www.spacemic.net/mic2finalists_1-6.html Read more about our Cubesat research here: www.innovus.co.za/pages/posts/professor-herman-steyn-control-systems-for-small-satellites-299.php
Every year, the Engineering Faculty at Stellenbosch University opens its doors to the public. Learners from schools across the Western Cape, often with their parents or teachers, flock to see more about the different fields in engineering. Visitors have the opportunity to get an overview of the various departments, view laboratories, interact with lecturers and senior students, see some of the exciting projects undertaken, find out more about bursaries and meet prospective employers in the field. At the Electrical & Electronic Department visitors enjoyed demonstrations of robotics, as well as the ever-popular and electrifying high-voltage experiments! For an overview of this year’s open day at our department, we have included this video, which is also available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxL9ZKONbKY The following video shows how engineering students let their hair down (up?) during the open day demonstrations at the high-voltage laboratory:
Researchers from Electrical & Electronic Engineering working on the FP7 MultiWaves project spent considerable time in Scotland and Serbia in 2012, and are expected to do the same in 2013. Stellenbosch University (SU) researchers play key roles in leading international research on global issues. Our university is one of the most successful universities taking part in the South African government’s bilateral science and technology agreements with more than 30 other countries. With the onset of the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7), SU researchers have become actively involved in the projects sponsored by the EU, most of them by invitation by leading researchers in Europe. One of the FP7 projects with which the Electrical & Electronic Department is involved, is MultiWaves. Researchers working on this project are concerned with finding solutions to the increasing demands for compact and low-cost wireless systems that operate at multiple frequency bands. According to Prof P Meyer of E&E Engineering, who is currently involved with the MultiWaves project, the funding for 2012 allowed them the equivalent of 15 (wo)man-months’ visits to Scotland and Serbia. In 2013, an additional 30 months’ overseas visits by researchers from SU will be funded. With a grant by the European Union of E90 000, plus around R500 000 from our own Department of Science & Technology, the funding for this project amounts to around R1.5m – offering our local researchers tremendous opportunities to contribute on a global level. For more information on FP7 research collaboration undertaken by SU researchers, see http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/stellenbosch-University/stellenbosch-research-2009/2010051201/35.html#35
Die Universiteit Stellenbosch se Meting- en Verifikasiespan (SUMV) is (voor, van links) Nelius Bekker, Adiel Jakoef (spanleier), Katrien du Preez en Johan Vermeulen. Agter staan Albert Alchin en Grant Botha. Marius Bekker was afwesig toe die foto geneem is. Die Stellenbosch Universiteit Meting- en Verifikasiespan (SUMV) is tans by meer as 140 landwye projekte betrokke wat daarop gemik is om elektriese aanvraag en energie te bespaar. Prof Johan Vermeulen van die Departement Elektriese en Elektroniese Ingenieurswese aan die US en spanhoof vertel wat hul werk behels, waarom dit belangrik is dat die besparingsprojekte onafhanklik geverifieer moet word en ook wat nodig is om die energieprobleme van Suid-Afrika te oorkom. Wat behels die werk wat SUMV doen? SUMV is in 2005 gestig en vorm ’n belangrike deel van die grootskaalse poging van Eskom en die staat om elektriese aanvraag en energie te bespaar. Honderde miljoene rande word jaarliks aan talle projekte bestee om energieverbruik in die land te verminder – van energiebesparende gloeilampe wat aan die publiek verskaf word tot hittepompe en sonverwarmingstelsels wat geïnstalleer word. Al dié besparings moet onafhanklik geverifieer word om te bepaal of daar inderdaad gespaar en genóég gespaar word. Dis wat ons by SUMV doen. Wat is die hoofprojekte waarop julle fokus? SUMV hanteer baie industriële projekte – die meeste van ons werk is by myne in die noorde van die land, wat meebring dat ons projekleiers dikwels uitstedig is met terreinbesoeke. Die myne in Suid-Afrika is ons grootste energieverbruikers en omvangryke projekte is van stapel gestuur om energie in die mynbedryf te bespaar. Daar word veral gefokus om die doeltreffendheid van druklugstelsels, verkoelingstelsels en waterverspreiding te verbeter. Ons is ook betrokke by sonverwarmingstelsels en oudit die impak van alle sonverwarming in die Wes-Kaap. SUMV oudit ook die installasie van hittepompe en selfs energiebesparende stortkoppe in die streek. Een van die meer onlangse verwikkelings waarby ons betrokke is, behels die meting en verifikasie van die prestasie van fotovoltaïese hernubare energiestelsels. Hoe dra dit by tot die bevordering van ’n volhoubare omgewing? Suid-Afrika ervaar die laaste tyd kapasiteitsprobleme aan die opwekkingskant van die nasionale netwerk. Wat ons die laaste paar jaar gered het, was die ekonomiese afswaai wat meegebring het dat minder krag in myne gebruik is en die bestuur van die vraag na energie, waarvan energiebesparing deel is. Die besparingspoging sal nog vir ’n paar jaar moet voortduur om kapasiteitsprobleme in die opwekking en verspreiding van elektriese energie te bestuur. ’n Besparingsteiken van 300 MW per jaar, wat reeds as haalbaar bewys is, beteken dat daar elke twee jaar ’n opwekkingseenheid van die stelsel afgehaal word, wat meebring dat jy relatief gou ’n hele kragstasie afhaal. Suid-Afrika se poging om vraagkantbestuur en meer doeltreffende verbruik te bevorder, is werklik een van die groot pogings ter wêreld. Tot dusver is dié poging baie suksesvol. Die besparings wat in die afgelope dekade hierdeur bewerkstellig is, verteenwoordig al byna ’n virtuele kragstasie. As energiebesparings nie onafhanklik geverifieer word nie, het jy nie ’n volhoubare bestedingsmoontlikheid nie, want dis die publiek se geld wat bestee word. Ons moet verseker dat daardie geld reg bestee word en dat die nasionale poging om energie te bespaar suksesvol, deursigtig en dus volhoubaar is. Lees die volle artikel hier: http://blogs.sun.ac.za/news/af/2013/03/20/sustainability-a-virtual-power-station-in-savings/
The Electrical and Electronic (E&E) Engineering Department’s efforts to groom sought-after engineers were significantly boosted by a funding programme by MTN last year. This programme enabled a group of students to do their final-year research projects in partnership with Trinity Telecomms, a specialist wireless M2M (machine-to-machine) communications company. As part of the E&E department’s programme for an engineering degree, students are required to undertake a final-year project that consolidates the work mastered in their four years of study. Some of these projects involve research in M2M communications and aim to find innovative ways to enhance the technology. These projects enable the aspiring engineers to acquire the technical know-how and hands-on experience on the operations of M2M technologies. However, without adequate funding and support for the project, the success of the research is threatened… which is why this funding programme was so welcome. Some of the projects undertaken include: The Driver Behaviour and Fleet Monitoring project, which – in addition to tracking vehicles – allows one to detect reckless driving using cost-effective motion sensing and complex algorithms. Reports are delivered in real-time to the Internet or a cellular phone application. An Android-Based Fleet Monitoring System, a low-cost (and low data usage) solution to monitor the fleet (and driver behaviour) with a simple cellular phone. The Remote Prepaid Meter project, which allows users to programme their prepaid meter from the Internet. In other words, users do not need to press buttons to top-up their prepaid meter, as the application will do the top up on their behalf. Cats-eye Zigbee Network, which allows the control of cats-eyes’ flashing rate and colour from an online platform. The Remote FM Radio Station Monitoring project, in which the presence of radio stations are monitored through an online platform. MTN, together with Trinity, supported six research students, and also provided modems and data SIMs to enable quick and easy access to Trinity’s online platform. “The support we’ve received from MTN and Trinity is invaluable,” notes Thinus Booysen, Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University. “Their contribution made a significant difference to the students’ success, by allowing them to work on projects that are industry-focused. They had the freedom to purchase the equipment needed to ensure the completion of the projects, without undue financial limitations, and with the agility of the Trintel platform.” The findings from the research will be published and also used by MTN and Trinity in advancing M2M solutions going forward. See videos of some of the M2M projects here: Minibus-taxi fleet-monitoring application for Android (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEhPW0sUFGA) Active Fleet Monitoring & Reporting System (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziqlrNbZz6c) Remote prepaid meter application (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH-bfwv4Dxo)
Leanne Pienaar, currently doing her Master’s degree with prof. Thomas Jones as supervisor, last year won the regional student competition of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers with her fourth-year project, aptly called SEESAW. She also received one of two discretionary prizes awarded by judges in the national competition. SEESAW stand for Synchonised Electronic Entertainment System using Android and Wi-Fi, which Leanne developed with Willem Smit as project leader. SEESAW demonstrates the ability to control a physical system wirelessly, with a mobile phone. The physical system is a motor-controlled mechanical labyrinth that can tilt around its x- and y-axes. When the Android phone is tilted, the angle is measured and instantaneously sent wirelessly to a Wi-Fi router programmed with an embedded Linux platform. The router then sends an instruction to the labyrinth motors to tilt the labyrinth to the same angle. The aim of the game is to guide a ball through the labyrinth without falling into any trap-holes, simply by tilting the Android phone and, indirectly, the physical labyrinth. However, the project is more than just a game – it can be used to develop innovative future applications such as the control of household lighting and appliances from a mobile phone. Leanne credits her the excellent IT teacher she had at Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West for her choice of career. See a video of Leanne’s project here.
At the beginning of this year, Prof Thomas Jones took over the role of departmental chairman at Electrical and Electronic Engineering. We recently cornered him to congratulate him, and find out more about the man, and his plans for the E&E Department… Ed: First, tell us a bit more about yourself – where did you grow up? TJ: Have you ever heard of the little town Cradock, in the Eastern Cape? Born and bred in the heartland of the Karoo! Ed: And your studies? TJ: Maties attracted me from a young age, and this is where I came to complete my B and M. I got my PhD from MIT, in the USA, though. And it was a good thing, too, as I met my future wife (and now the mother of my two beautiful children) in Boston. Ed: What makes you tick? TJ: Aerospace autonomous navigation and control systems… I am fortunate enough to work with Armscor, the South African Navy, Airbus, the National Aerospace Centre and the CSIR, amongst others, on these types of systems. I am also a director of S-Plane Automation (www.s-plane.co.za). Ed: And when you want to relax completely? TJ: Angling, of all things… it’s peaceful, and gives me some quality time to reflect on things I don’t normally have time to think about. In that sense, it can be quite creative. Ed: I think most people are quite interested in hearing what your plans are for the department… can you share some of your ideas with us? TJ: The E&E Department – students and staff alike – are like an extended family. That is, amongst others, what makes this such a great place to work and study. To my mind, no other campus in SA can compare. What I would like to do over the next few years? Phew… where do I start! First, I want to support the exceptional research activities that are already in place, such as the SKA work, Airbus, Eskom and many others, and to put even more research projects in place. Another focus area is to grow and develop the E&E Department even further. Our university has been rated tops in Africa, and we already have a large number of staff with doctorates and internationally accredited research ratings… but let’s see how we can develop our best people even further! I also want to look at how we can grow our international partnerships, especially within Africa, as well as with Europe, USA, China and others. A focus that students and lecturers alike will probably welcome is our plans to modernise and renew our facilities. Technology develops quickly, and we cannot afford to be left behind. We must always have exceptional and modern classrooms, laboratories, and so on. We’ve already built some new facilities, and new ones are currently under construction. We are expanding rather fast! Ed: Any last thoughts? TJ: An E&E degree from Stellenbosch is highly sought-after, as it offers such exceptional job prospects. I think internationally we are known for our high standards and hard work. We want to continue delivering the best graduates to our local and international industry, by keeping their training relevant and modern. To achieve this, as well as all our plans for the next few years, I think we will have to adopt an extremely energetic approach! It seems energy has just taken on a new meaning and function at E&E!
November 30, 2016 – December 2, 2016
November 21, 2016 – November 25, 2016