DUT robotics club earns top 30 team spot for engineering

The DUT Arm (E3)NGAGE Robotics Club members. Picture: Supplied.

The DUT Arm (E3)NGAGE Robotics Club members. Picture: Supplied.

Published Feb 20, 2024


Durban — The Durban University (DUT) of Technology’s Arm (E3)NGAGE Robotics Student Club clinched a spot as one of the 30 winning teams for the 2024 Formula Student RS Build Fund.

According to Alan Khan, senior director of Corporate Affairs at DUT, the Formula Student RS Build Fund is an engineering competition established in Europe at least 25 years ago. It is aimed at developing enterprising and innovative young engineers and encouraging more young people globally to pursue a career in engineering.

Projects produced by the competing teams were viewed by the motor industry to assess adherence to the engineering standards and to transition them from university to the workplace. Participants were also rated on their soft skills, including business planning and project management.

The competition received 78 entries from 21 different countries globally. The Arm (E3)NGAGE Robotics Student Club, consisting of students from the university’s faculties of accounting and informatics, art and design and engineering and the built environment, was the only club from the African universities among the 30 winners, making them the sole African representative on the winners’ list.

Executive dean in the faculty of accounting and informatics, Professor Oludayo Olugbara, said that this winning team was formed last year after DUT signed a memorandum of understanding with Arm Holdings, a leading British semiconductor and software design company. Its mission is to harness technical skills among students, fostering the development of innovations and entrepreneurs that focus on African contexts for a global audience.

“This collaboration was framed around the Engineering Practice of Innovation Project (Epip) model that the faculty of accounting and informatics diligently adheres to in partnership with Tianjin Vocational Institute in China, recognising the critical role of international partnerships in achieving excellence.

“The inaugural project of the student club was the development of an African humanoid robot capable of speaking Zulu, named after King Shaka Zulu. It was aimed at addressing the gap in robotics production that often neglects African contexts,” he said.

He congratulated the Arm (E3)NGAGE Robotics Student Club on flying the institution’s flag on a global stage.

Olugbara added that he believed the club’s success served as an inspiration to aspiring roboticists across Africa and beyond, and that he felt it demonstrated that anything was possible regardless of geographical barriers or resource constraints, through determination, perseverance and pursuit of excellence. He said the accolade carried an award of £1 000 (about R25 000) in RS Grass Roots products.

Technician in the DUT MICTSETA Centre of Excellence, Fanie Ndlovu, who has been overseeing the club, relayed his congratulations.

“As we celebrate this milestone achievement, the Arm (E3)NGAGE Robotics Student Club students extend their heartfelt gratitude to the Formula Student RS Fund for their invaluable support and recognition.

“We also thank our university, mentors, sponsors and all those who have contributed to the success of this robotics club. Their unwavering belief in our vision powered our passion and propelled us on our journey towards robotics excellence,” he said.

Team member Tawananyasha Mukumbareza said that the recognition bestowed upon them by the Formula Students RS Fund was a validation of the hard work, creativity and ingenuity exhibited by their DUT team members, adding that it underscored their commitment to excellence and highlighted their position as trailblazers in the field of robotics.

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