Professor Thandwa Mthembu, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) shared the 10 words that every DUT student and staff member should know off by heart. He mentioned these words at the opening of the DUT Innovation Indaba 2022 held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) on Monday, 24 October 2022. This prestigious four-day event themed: Taking academic innovation from idea to marketplace is set to end with a Gala Dinner where the South African Research Management System (SARMS) and DUT Blazer will be launched this evening, 27 October 2022.
The ten words are: “our innovation and entrepreneurship shapes adaptive graduates that transform society”. Prof Mthembu indicated that this statement is the DUT changing philosophy moving away from educating and training student for the work place.
“We are moving from talking about work places that do not exist. What many of us tend to do is to list all the difficulties, with hardly any solutions. Even if we do try to provide solutions, we do not see those solutions being introduced in the country, we do not see those solutions making an impact in the country,” said Prof Mthembu.
He indicated that most importantly for DUT as an educational institution they want to teach their students to solve the problems.
“This is what a university, in particular DUT should be about. We should be about teaching our students how to solve these problems we have. How to make the life that is difficult less difficult. We have a strategy we call ENVISION2030, which like all strategies has a strategic plan. There are three very important strategic objectives in this strategy, that relate to our academic work as staff and students. One of them is innovative curricular and research. In short, it’s about curricular and research that stimulates innovation in order for us as DUT, students and staff to generate knowledge that will ultimately help to solve these difficult problems we have,” said Prof Mthembu.
He added that another strategic objective is called “Distinctive Education” where they commit as DUT to create an innovative and future orientated living and learning environment. According to Prof Mthembu, the last part derived from the first two called “adaptive graduates” is very important. In short, he stated that these are graduates who do not stand in long queues looking for jobs, but graduates who if the situation seems to force them to look for a job, are graduates who will have the acumen to respond to changes in their own environment, whether local, regional, provincial, national and international.
Prof Mthembu also revealed that in the past Universities of Technologies used to pride themselves for producing graduates for the workplace. He clarified “adaptive graduates” are not necessarily graduates who seek employment from a workplace, however its graduates who understand that every other workplace was created from an idea of an individual or team.
The DUT Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement who is also part of the planning team of this event, Professor Keolebogile Motaung shared the same sentiments as Prof Mthembu. She indicated that ENVISION2030 places DUT people (staff and students) as engines and catalysts of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship so they can contribute meaningfully and productively to this changing world.
The Indaba featured various business experts and entrepreneurs who shared their business journeys with a hope to inspire the DUT student entrepreneurs. Amongst the speakers on day one was Ms Zimkhitha Peter, CEO of Alan Gray who revealed the exciting news that they have partnered with DUT to assist unemployed graduates to start their businesses.
Prof Motaung expressed her gratitude to all the distinguished speakers who availed themselves to inspire and plant a seed of entrepreneurship amongst the DUT students.
Pictured: DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Prof Keolebogile Motaung speaking at the DUT Innovation Indaba 2022.
Photographer: Khulasande Tshayile