Stellenbosch University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announce collaboration
Stellenbosch University, one of the premier research universities in South Africa, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological research university in the United States, are teaming up to expand science and engineering capacity and to encourage young people to focus their energies on addressing the great global challenges of our time.
The agreement was formalised at a signing ceremony in Stellenbosch on Tuesday night.
Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU), describes the agreement as a significant step in the University’s efforts in affirming its status as a leading institution of higher education in Africa.
“Finding itself in a rapidly changing world with new and higher demands that are being made on tertiary institutions, Stellenbosch University not only wants to extend its leadership position, but realizes that it needs to progress from success to significance. The agreement with Rensselaer, known for pre-eminence in research conducted in an array of fields, will be hugely beneficial to the endeavours of the University. It will also pave the way for meaningful cooperation in science and engineering, the development of collaborative research programs and for an innovative exchange programme that will add tremendous value to our pedagogy of hope.
“Scientific and technological discovery and innovation are essential to address pressing health, energy, and environmental challenges, but that requires a highly skilled workforce with the multicultural sophistication and intellectual agility to thrive in the global economy,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Working together, we will generate new opportunities for our students, teachers, and researchers to enhance their skills, expand their reach and impact, and make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
The new partnership will enable:
• Student exchange – Opportunities for students to enrol in programs at the partner university.
• Joint student projects focused on key development issues – Each year, students from the partnering institutions will be engaged in interdisciplinary teams, assigned to identify and solve problems related to a range of development issues including energy and the environment, transportation, safe water, and infectious and chronic disease control. Initially the students will work from their respective institutions, linked by new technologies. The program will culminate in the short-term exchange of students and faculty from the partnering institutions.
• Summer Research Institute – Rensselaer will host an intensive two-week research session on its campus for science and engineering faculty and administrators. The sessions will include on-campus research seminars, meetings with research groups at Rensselaer, and site visits to major government, academic, and/or business research facilities in the U.S.
To broaden scientific and engineering capacity beyond the host organizations, the collaborators also will explore innovative teaching methods and the use of technology to increase their reach to a larger community of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators.
Rensselaer is embarking on a five-year program of cross-cultural collaboration in science and engineering research, education, and development in Africa. The Institute will bring its hallmark experiential learning programs to these universities through these cooperative student projects, student exchanges, and research education initiatives for faculty and administrators.
This emerging partnership also will enhance the Rensselaer “REACH” program, a new initiative that ultimately will require all of its students to have an international experience as a requirement for graduation.
Some members of the Rensselaer delegation also will travel to Kumasi, Ghana, where they will visit Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to discuss future collaborations.
Dr Jackson was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony of the Faculties of AgriScience and Economic and Management on Monday night.