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Gauteng Premier explores research and innovation centres at TUT




A robotic walker, a solar car and a device to help people who have hand-related disabilities were just some of the innovative projects the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) students showcased during the Gauteng Premier’s visit on Wednesday.

Premier David Makhura visited the research and innovation centres, technology stations and institutes at the TUT Pretoria campus on Wednesday.

Gauteng Premier, David Makhura.

This formed part of the provincial government’s efforts to accelerate and support Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) initiatives to transform Gauteng into a globally competitive city region.

The premier joined a tour of the facility which started at the TUT Centre for Tissue Engineering in the morning.

They then moved to the TUT Soshanguve South Campus Technology Stations before concluding their tour at the TUT Pretoria west campus for research and innovation.

Tebogo Katsedi: The car that uses solar.

At the research and innovation centre, projects were showcased by the postgraduate students.

Tsholofelo Modise, one of the students, created a robotic walker capable of training lower limbs in those with disabilities.

“The walker is specifically targeted at stroke victims who struggle to walk again and will help them to regain their mobility.

“It is also for patients with muscular dystrophy, patients who are undergoing physical rehabilitation to walk again.”

Modise said the walker included sensors that connected to the legs to monitor when someone is walking.

“It can either be used seated or standing up and there’ll be a signal that is sent to the walker on how to manoeuvre itself according to how a person is moving.

“The device is battery-powered.”

Modise said the goal was to create a device that could be used anywhere.

“The cost might be an issue for some people so then they’ll be able to get it in a rehabilitation centre and use it there,” she said.

Another student, Tiaan du Plessis, created a device that will help anyone who struggles to use their hands.

“The project focuses mainly on rehabilitating someone who is suffering from a hand-related disability although the concept can be applied to other disabilities as well,” Du Plessis said.

“The end goal would be for someone to use the device to control any limbs which are not functioning.

“For example, a person can think of moving their hands. These signals are then processed from the brain using this EG cap,” he said.

Du Plessis said the cap measures brain signals and interprets them to determine the user’s intention and send the message to the skeleton hand.

The students made a lasting impression on the premier who said they were all contributing to a better world.

“There are several ways in which TUT can assist the province in our work,” Makhura said.

“They want to work with the Department of Health and the public health system in our province.

“There are many things that they are already doing which enhance the public health system in our province.

“We will send the department officials to visit the centre for tissue engineering,” he said.

Tiaan du Plessis, The device that programmes the aim of a person.

The premier urged the institution to also look at solving pandemics in the world including Covid-19, climate change and also urbanisation.

“You have to be at the cutting edge of ensuring that your university contributes to not just scientific developments, but the development of the best capabilities.”

Vice-chancellor principal of TUT, professor Tinyiko Maluleke said he believed that he has shown the premier some of the most exciting innovations and problem-solving research that they are doing at TUT.

Also read: Top Tshwane researcher, academic to lead TUT in 2022

“We hope that you enjoyed this brief journey from our centre of tissue engineering located at the CSIR to toolmakers at the Soshanguve campus.

“And finally here where I could see your eyes popping and growing bigger and bigger as you saw what our researchers are capable of,” he said.

Maluleke said he hope that the premier found it as fruitful as they all did.

“Speaking of fruitfulness, my sincere hope is that the event of today will become a foundation for a strong partnership between TUT and the Gauteng provincial government.”

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