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Change the world


Mandela University’s Mechatronics department - in collaboration with Siemens South Africa - recently assisted two TVET colleges with 20 commissioned stations for the training of educators and students to learn industrial control programming principles.

King Hintsa College in Butterworth and South Cape College in Mossel Bay each received 10 training stations, which through their smart connectors, enable them to be easily used to control secondary mechatronics systems. King Hintsa College had no Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) equipment prior to this delivery and had to travel to other institutions to expose their learners to PLCs.

The equipment will therefore go a long way in bridging this gap and enable the lecturers to deliver the content on PLCs with more ease.

In addition, the training station, a ready-to-use training set, was developed by a mechatronics final year student and interns at the University’s Advanced Mechatronics Training Centre (AMTC), Sivashani Pather and Masego Baloyi.  In this way, Sivashani gained skills in mechanical design, electrical wiring, PLC programming and communications skills.

The University has a long-standing relationship and collaboration with Siemens South Africa as an official Siemens SITRAIN training partner, says Mechatronics’ Professor Theo van Niekerk.

Mechatronics’ lecturers Thabelo Mohlala (MEng student) and Ntuthuko Nsibande and Marine Engineering lecturer John Fernandes (PhD student) are involved in the project.

The programme comprises open-source TIA-Portal (Totally Integrated Automation) Standard Factory Automation, Digitalization, Control, Human Machine Interface, Electrical Drives and Data Communication Courses, that SCE provides, and which enable universities to engage and gain knowledge on and with Siemens Digital Technologies.

Prof Van Niekerk and the team at the University’s AMTC run various initiatives with technical schools, colleges and other universities in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“The SCE provides educators with a comprehensive offering to convey industry 4.0 automation knowledge for academia and in-house vocational training, which can also be used by learners for self-study. The SCE knowledge is also integrated into the practicum in our mechatronics curriculum, hence preparing our learners for industry. The association is one area that makes our degree sought after”, says Prof Van Niekerk.

Handing over training stations at King Hintsa College in Butterworth from left Thabelo Mohlala, Karl du Preez and Meera Naidoo.

South Cape College in Mossel Bay received training stations from Prof Theo van Niekerk and Thabelo Mohlala.  



Contact information
Professor Theo van Niekerk
Tel: 27 41 504 3103