In 2011, the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) research chair in Electromagnetic Systems and EMI Mitigation for SKA was awarded to the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University, one of South Africa’s leading research-intensive universities. The chair was initially held by Prof David Davidson, between Jan 2011 and December 2017, after which he accepted a post as director of engineering at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy. Subsequently, Prof Dirk de Villiers was appointed in the chair and the name updated to the SARChI Chair in Antenna Systems for the SKA. The chair is expected to run for 3 five year periods – until December 2025.
The main goals of the chair are to train the next generation of engineers to work in the South African and wider radio astronomy, microwave, and antenna engineering industries, while simultaneously performing cutting edge research on antenna systems for radio astronomy applications. While these goals are primarily seated within the South African and African contexts, they cannot be achieved without broad collaboration with recognized global experts. We therefore strive to work with and alongside many groups currently leading radio astronomy engineering research all over the world, and attempt to give our students as much as possible international exposure. Practical experience in radio astronomy system development is attained by all students funded by this project through participation in the SUNDOG group – a side project where a small demonstrator radio observatory is being developed.