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Computing Sciences

The Developing and Strengthening Industry driven Knowledge (DASIK) ICT Research Collaboration Workshop was held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on 8th December 2014 and was attended by over 40 representatives from several companies in Port Elizabeth as well as academics in the science and technology field. The main aim of the workshop was to bring together individuals with a passion for ICT to address the opportunities and challenges in the field of ICT faced by companies and researchers. Potential opportunities for collaboration between industry partners and researchers were explored. The DASIK project is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

According to Dr Brenda Scholtz, the South African project manager for the DASIK project, “The project has brought immeasurable benefits to both staff and students at NMMU. Several students have benefited from the various funded trips to Germany and have also benefited from the part time work opportunities that the project has provided to students who are involved in the various activities of the project.”

The event was opened by Dr Brenda Scholtz and participants were welcomed by both Prof Andrew Leitch (Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Engagement, NMMU) and Prof Bernd Siebenhüner (Vice President for Graduate Education and Quality Management, University of Oldenburg, Germany). Various topics related to ICT trends were presented at the workshop, ranging from managing digital content and the impact of the Internet to data science and the value of knowing. 

Philina Wittke (Director Information Center at the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service) gave a presentation on the funding opportunities offered by the DAAD to South African Organisations.

The ICT field has been identified as an area where there is a shortage of good quality skills and graduates are in high demand. The workshop provided participating companies with the opportunity of strengthening partnerships with researchers and academics in higher education institutions in order to satisfy their future employee and market demand. 

International Federation for Information Processing

Prof Janet Wesson The General Assembly of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) awarded Prof Janet Wesson the IFIP Outstanding Service Award for outstanding contributions to the Informatics Community. Prof Wesson has served as South Africa’s representative on the IFIP committee for Human-Computer Interaction since 2000.

 

Prof Andre Calitz was the plenary speaker at the GovTech 2014 Conference in Durban where 2000+ delegates attended this conference. He also had various radio interviews while attending the conference.

Masters student Blessing Jonamu presented his paper on “A Gap Model for Environmental Information Management in an African Higher Education Institution" at the International Development Informatics Association (IDIA) 2014 Conference in Port Elizabeth. Dr Brenda Scholtz and Prof Andre Calitz are the co-authors of this paper.

A total of 76 Santa Shoeboxes were delivered to the Santa Shoebox Project as a combined project by the School of Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics. Thank you to Hayley Irvine and Amanda Esterhuyse who drove this project.

Our department held a CS Project Exhibition where all of the Honours, Masters and PhD projects that was completed this year was put on display. Everyone who attended this exhibition were able to interact with our postgraduate students and get a demonstration and insight on the projects that they have done. 

Honours student Nicholas Farrant (left) demonstrating his Interactive Motion-Based Multi-Channel Instrument using the Microsoft Kinect project
Honours student Jeandré Swanepoel (right) demonstrating his Managing Users’ Location Sharing and Privacy Needs in a Location-Aware Application project

 

Congratulations to Dr Melisa Koorsse and co-authors Prof Charmain Cilliers and Prof Andre Calitz whose paper “Programming Assistance Tools to Support the Learning of IT Programming in South African Secondary Schools Computers and Education” was accepted for The Computers and Education Journal.

Congratulations to Dr MC du Plessis and co-authors Prof Andries Engelbrecht (HoD of Computer Science at the University of Pretoria) and Prof Andre Calitz whose paper “Self-Adapting the Brownian Radius in a Differential Evolution Algorithm for Dynamic Environments” was accepted for the Foundations of Genetic Algorithms Conference in Aberystwyth, Wales from the 17th – 20th January 2015.

Congratulations to the winners of our Raspberry Pi competition: ecoBerry (first place), iDrive (second place), and Game of Life (third place). This competition and prize money worth R50 000 was personally sponsored by Andile Ngcaba, Chairman for Dimension Data Africa and Middle East.

The ecoBerry team, which consisted of third year students Vincent Reid, Kevin Beyers, Matthew Sainsbury and Douglas Bentley, won a total of R30 000. Their Power Monitor project aims to provide users with the ability to keep track of their electricity usage, and give them some insight into how they can minimize their carbon footprint and reduce strain on the national electricity grid. Users can receive emails about national electricity alerts, as well as periodic reports on household usage. The system provides an easy to use web interface with a live view of electricity usage, as well as a prediction of what they could use in the future.

The iDrive team, which consisted of first year Computing Sciences/ Mechatronics students Rabelani Nengwekhulu and Magamane Ledwaba, won a total of R15 000. Their project is centered on the new technology of autonomous vehicles, which simply put is a vehicle that can drive itself without much human interruption. The amazing thing is that this technology eliminates human interaction thus eliminating the prospect of human error which is the cause of most automobile accidents.

The Game of Life team, which consisted of first year Computing Sciences/Mechatronics students Sithe Ncube and Denzhelanga Sadiki, won a total of R5 000. Their project, Game of Groves, is a network of Raspberry Pi powered water sprinklers connected to a massively multiplayer conquest game where you seek to control Green Landing and surrounding kingdoms by watering their plants in real time. Each kingdom in the game is connected to a small real life garden and players who show the most dedication in watering the respective gardens are crowned rulers and receive tribute when harvest arrives. If Cthulhu overtakes your score your points are reset to zero and you are kicked off your throne.

ecoBerry, the winning team of the Raspberry Pi competition at the Eastern Cape ICT Summit in East London. FLTR: Kevin Beyers, Matthew Sainsbury, Motse Mfuleni (Conference Chairman) and Vincent Reid. Not in the photo: Douglas Bentley.
FLTR: Vincent Reid, Kevin Beyers, Matthew Sainsbury and Douglas Bentley.
ecoBerry busy with a television interview.

Our department had a Santa Shoebox Teamwork Day where staff and senior students came together to pack, wrap and decorate Santa Shoeboxes. The Santa Shoebox Teamwork Day forms part of our department’s Community Outreach project for this year.  Participants could either undertake to complete a box on their own or donate money towards the cause.  This Teamwork Day was arranged to pack the 28 boxes for which we received cash contributions, giving us a total of 74 boxes in total to contribute towards this cause.  The Santa Shoebox Project distributes festive season gifts to thousands of underprivileged children across South Africa and Namibia annually. 

Some of our staff packing, wrapping and decorating the Santa Shoeboxes
The Santa Shoebox Teamwork Day invitation in the staff room Hayley Irvine with a
completed Santa Shoebox 

 

The Google Students Club at NMMU gathered in one of our labs for the Cardboard (DODO case) event where the students assembled some Google Cardboard inspired Virtual Reality Headsets. For more information on the Google Students Club at NMMU click here, and for more action photos at the Cardboard (DODO case) event click here.

The SEDA NMB ICT Incubator sponsored prizes for mobile apps developed by our Honours students in the Mobile Computing Honours module. Congratulations to Christian Simpson and Kyle Henning whose apps both took first place, and Zandre Botha whose app took second place. 

 

FLTR: Zandre Botha, Sipelo Lupondwana (SEDA NMB ICT Incubator, Centre Manager), Christian Simpson and Kyle Henning

Congratulations to departmental team “The Finite State Automata” who placed 10th in the sub-Saharan Africa and 1st in the Eastern Cape in the ACM ICPC Programming Competition. The Finite State Automata team consisted of Simon Urban, Michael Hatherly and Michael McQuirk. A total of 87 teams from various countries participated in this competition.

FLTR: Simon Urban, Michael Hatherly and Michael McQuirk

Kayode Ayankoya, who was one of the two winners of the global Blog Contest, attended the SAP Mining and Metals Forum in Darmstadt, Germany. Kayode was one of the two winners in a global Blog Contest competition with his entry on Big Data and Mining, which is related to his PhD studies.

Eckhardt Siess, Global Vice President of SAP’s Industry Business Unit Mill Products and Mining, congratulated Kayode Ayankoya (middle) as one of the two winners of the global Blog Contest

 

Johan Nel, Country Manager at Gumtree, gave a Lunchbox lecture on “Connected Commerce” to our students.

Research papers were presented at the SAICSIT 2014 conference in Centurion, Gauteng from the 28th September to the 1st October. PhD student Kayode Ayankoya, and Masters students Grant Eastwood, Dumisani Nyembeka and Martin Smuts presented at the conference. Marco Pretorius, a Research-Associate, also presented at the conference. Prof Janet Wesson, Dr Brenda Scholtz and Prof Andre Calitz attended the conference with our students.

FLTR: Kayode Ayankoya, Martin Smuts, Dumisani Nyembeka and Grant Eastwood at the SAICSIT 2014 conference

Congratulations to Prof Andre Calitz, Dr Margie Cullen and S. Gaga whose paper “SMME Access to Finance in South Africa” was published in the Journal of Emerging Issues in Economics, Finance and Banking.

Congratulations to Nqobizwe Ngubane who is the first recipient of the Mabinya Scholarship. Alumnus Baxter Mabinya and his wife Elize decided to award this privately sponsored award which includes ongoing mentorship from them as a couple.

Nqobizwe Ngubane and Baxter Mabinya

The department had a very productive and encouraging Industry Advisory Board meeting with representatives from Korbitec, ACI Worldwide, ASPEN, Open Box Software, Dimension Data, SYSPRO and Business Connexion.

Prof Janet Wesson presenting at the Industry Advisory Board meeting

Our department had the honour to host Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa. Above FLTR is Andile Ngcaba, Prof Janet Wesson and Dr Lester Cowley in front of the plaque (below) which was unveiled in 1998 by Andile Ngcaba, as Director of the Department of Communication, at the launch of the Centre of Excellence.

Congratulations to Mando Kapeso and Dr Brenda Scholtz whose paper “An M-learning Framework for ERP Systems in Higher Education” was accepted in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Smart Education.

Congratulations to Masters Blessing Jonamu, and his supervisors Prof Andre Calitz and Dr Brenda Scholtz, whose paper “A Gap model for environmental Information management in an African Higher Education Institution” was accepted for the International Development Informatics Association (IDIA) Conference.

Congratulations to Nemr Alnseerat, and his supervisors Prof Jean Greyling, Dr Dieter Vogts and Dr Melisa Koorsse’s, whose paper “Architecture for the Effective Use of Mobile Devices in Supporting Contact Learning” was accepted for the International Journal of Scientific Engineering and Technology.

Congratulations to Prof Janet Wesson who received the Outstanding Service Award in “Recognition for services rendered to IFIP by Technical Committee and Working Group Members” at the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Global Assembly. Prof Wesson received this award for services to TC13, which is the IFIP’s technical committee for Human-Computer Interaction – she is South Africa’s representative on this committee.  

Dr Brenda Scholtz, Maxine Esterhuyse (Honours) and Masive Zita (Honours) presented at the EnviroInfo 2014 conference in Oldenburg, Germany.

FLTR: Masive Zita, Dr Brenda Scholtz and Maxine Esterhuyse

Congratulations to Lukongo Lindunda, BSc IS Alumni student, who had the opportunity to attend a fellowship at Yale University as part of Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative. Read the full article here.

 

Thank you to Erna Milbourn on Secretaries Day for all the work she does for the department!

Congratulations to Michael Kyazze whose paper on his Masters research was accepted for the Global Telehealth 2014 conference to be held in November in Durban. The title of his paper is “The design and implementation of a ubiquitous personal health record system for South Africa”. Prof Janet Wesson and Dr Kevin Naudé are his supervisors and co-authors of the paper.

Tony Simpson, PhD student, presented at the International Business Conference in Swakopmund, Namibia. The title of his paper was “Toward an information services framework for commercial extension services”. Prof Andre Calitz is the co-author of this paper.

 

Congratulations to Kayode Ayankoya, PhD student, who has been selected as one of the two global winners to attend an all-expenses paid forum on the “Future of Mining and Metals” by SAP in Germany. To participate in this contest, he wrote a blog on how digitization, internet of things, big data and data science would change the mining industry in the future.

 

Our department hosted our annual programming competition. Just under 100 learners and students participated in this year’s competition. Congratulations to the following winning school and student teams:

WINNING SCHOOL TEAMS
1st place: Herman Stoltsz, Antin Phillips, Prejlin Naidu
Grey High School
2nd place: Nathan, Ethan, Machaela
Victoria Park High School
3rd place and Best Grade 11 team: Helder Fernandes, Carlos Fernandes, Grant Oppelt
Alexander Road High School
WINNING STUDENT TEAMS
1st place: Michael McQuirk, Daniel Karanja, Simon Urban 
2nd place: Matthew Hill, Liam Carver, Adriaan Wildervanck 
3rd place: Jacques Potgieter, Agnes Kijewski, Luke Oldham
Best 1st year team: Susan Chamberlain, Reinhardt Steynberg, Chris Dunderdale 

The total amount of prize money to be won totalled up to R17 000. Thank you to our sponsors – SYSPRO, Entelect, Nebula, Baxter Mabinya and the department!

 

Learners and students at our annual programming competition

Dr Michael Schuricht, from the Jade University of Applied Sciences, Wilhelmshaven in Germany, presented a presentation to our students on the Business Model Canvas.

Dr Michael Schuricht presenting in Lab 4

Congratulations to Mando Kapeso and his supervisor Dr Brenda Scholtz whose paper “Acceptance and Success Factors for M-learning of ERP Systems Curricula” has been accepted for the MCCSIS 2015 conference in Lisbon, Portugal. 

Congratulations to Simone Beets (PhD), Timothy Lee Son (Masters), Cainos Mukandatsama (Masters), Dumisani Nyumbeka (Masters) and Direshin Pather (Masters) whose papers have been accepted for the SATNAC 2014 conference. Full Research papers were accepted from Simone Beets, Cainos Mukandatsama and Direshin Pather. Work in Progress papers were accepted from Timothy Lee Son and Dumisani Nyumbeka.

Brydon Leonard (in the middle) is a first year student and a member of the NMMU choir. Our university’s choir went to China where they represented Africa.

The DASIK Workshop, which our department co-organised with the University of Oldenburg in Germany, was held in Johannesburg from 22 – 23 July. Approximately 50 delegates attended this workshop, representing 3 countries, 5 universities and 12 companies. Thank you to SYSPRO who hosted the event for us!

Academic and Industry Delegates at the DASIK workshop in Johannesburg

Congratulations to Agnes Kijewski, Jacques Potgieter, Waldo Scheun and Francios du Plessis who is one of the team finalists in the National Student Cluster Competition. The National Student Cluster Competition will be held at the Kruger National Park in December. Kevin Beyers will accompany them for support.

FLTR: Waldo Scheun, Agnes Kijewski, Francios du Plessis, Jacques Potgieter and Kevin Beyers

Congratulations to Darren Ferreira and his supervisor Prof Andre Calitz whose paper “Promoting ICT Careers Using a Mobile ICT Career Application” has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Science, Environment and Technology.

Congratulations to Prof Andre Calitz whose article "Next generation technology to power next generation skills development" was published in the EngineerIT magazine. Click here to read the full article.

 

Open Day 2014
10/05/2014
The Computing Sciences stall at Open Day 2014 Some interesting code displayed at our stall
Our departmental banner on top of our stall Nicholas Farrant, Honours student, talking to learners
Michael Louwrens, Masters student, showing our robots to parents and learners Ntembeko Jafta, staff, talking to teachers all the way from Umtata

Congratulations to Irene Snyman, Dr Brenda Scholtz and Prof Andre Calitz whose paper titled “Challenges and Success Factors for Collaborative Business Process Modelling” have been accepted for the 8th European Conference on IS Management and Evaluation from 11 – 12 September 2014 in Gent, Belgium.

Prof Jean Greyling spoke at Grey High School about careers in computing as well as our department

Congratulations to our 76 graduates that graduated on Friday, 11th of April 2014. Our department held a graduation function to celebrate our student’s success and congratulate them on this achievement. 

Some of our graduates that attended the department’s graduation function Prof Andre Calitz and Dr Lynette Barnard were PhD graduate Felix Ntawanga's supervisors/promoters from Honours right through to his PhD
Front row FLTR: Irene Snyman (MCom), Dr Kevin Naudé (PhD), and Anthea van der Hoogen (MCom)
Back row FLTR: Thabo Tlebere (MCom), Clayton Burger (MSc), Mohammed Ali Ditta (MSc), Nemr Alnseerat (MSc), and Felix Ntawanga (PhD)

Dr Brenda Scholtz featured in the February 2014 edition of the Women in IT newsletter.

25 Staff and students from our department attended the annual Research Rumble in Grahamstown.

Staff and students attending the annual Research Rumble

Prof Jean Greyling and Dr Lester Cowley attended the NMMU Alumni event in Johannesburg on behalf of the department. They met up with numerous of the department’s alumni students at this event. 

Prof Jean Greyling with members from last year's honours class at the NMMU Alumni event in Johannesburg
Dr Lester Cowley with Sherwin Barlow (left) and Gianni Twigg (right). Sherwin and Gianni got their Masters degrees in the department in 2013 
Meryl Malcomess, Marketing Director at SYSPRO Africa, was awarded an Industry Ambassador Award from the Computing Science department at the NMMU Alumni event. Read the full article here.

 

Brendan, from Open Box in Cape Town, spoke to our postgraduate students at our Open Box Breakfast.

Brendan speaking at our Open Box Breakfast

Dr Kevin Naudé accompanied our top 2013 undergraduate students on a sponsored trip to Cape Town. Korbitec, Open Box and ACI Worldwide sponsored this trip.

FLTR: Dr Kevin Naudé, Francois du Plessis (2013 1st year student), Matthew Sainsbury (2013 2nd year) and Ashley Naudé (2013 3rd year student)

Grant Woodford, a Masters student, presented the workshop on Raspberry Pi. This forms part of the R50 000 Raspberry Pi competition. 

Rudi Roelofse and Logan Fleur attended the Raspberry Pi workshop

Congratulations to the following 8 Masters and Doctorate students who will be graduating on the 11th April 2014.

Masters Graduates

  • Nemr Alnseerat
  • Clayton Burger
  • Mohammed Ali Ditta
  • Irene Snyman
  • Thabo Eugene Tlebere
  • Anthea Vivian van der Hoogen

Doctorate Graduates

  • Kevin Alexander Naudé
  • Felix Fred Ntawanga 

Alumni Eugene Coetzee, Senior Manager Software Engineering from ACI in Cape Town, visited the department for the opening of the new ACI Postgraduate Lab. The new ACI Postgraduate Lab is the old video conferencing venue which now contains 18 new PCs.

Prof Jean Greyling and Eugene Coetzee at the opening of the new ACI Postgraduate Lab

Alumni Benny Ou, from Allan Gray in Cape Town, gave an informative talk to our third year students on Agile Software Development.

Janine Nel introducing Benny Ou before his presentation

Congratulations to Rhys Botes, Martin Stolk, Cornelius Greyling, Grant Eastwood and Peter-John Fernandes with a very successful launch of the new School Times app. Teachers and learners were invited to attend the launch of School Times in our department. Seventeen schools have registered for School Times.

The developers of the School Times app: (FLTR) Rhys Botes, Martin Stolk, Cornelius Greyling, Grant Eastwood and Peter-John Fernandes Teachers and learners were invited to attend the launch of the School Times app in Lab 4

 

Peter Raine, Chief Operating Officer (COO) from Korbitec in Cape Town, visited the department for the opening of the new Korbitec Foyer - at the entrance to the Masters, Honours and COE Labs.

Prof Jean Greyling and Peter Raine at the opening of the new Korbitec Foyer

Congratulations to Devereaux Joubert and Mohammed Cassim, both BCom Honours Graduates, who have been named as part of the Metropole’s Top 40 Under 40 stars by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber. Devereaux and Mohammed started The Code Group, a software development company, 4 years ago in Newton Park. They currently employ 10+ developers from which most of the developers are NMMU graduates. 

 

Devereaux Joubert and Mohammed Cassim at the Top 40 Under 40 event

Cornelius Greyling, a second year student, and Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs and Head of Mxit Reach, gave a talk on the new app in development for school newspapers called School Times at the SABC studios in Cape Town.

Marlon Parker (left) and Cornelius Greyling (middle) at the SABC studios in Cape Town

"In December last year, four of us from NMMU (myself, Douglas Bentley, Liam Carver, and Matthew Sainsbury) took part in the Student Cluster Competition held by the CSIR in Cape Town. Our team came in second place, only narrowly beaten by the team from UWC. A team of six was chosen to take part at the International Supercomputing Conference that will be held in Leipzig, Germany, later this year. The team is made up of the four members from UWC, along with two others chosen from other teams. Two reserves were also chosen, of which one was me. This means that if someone cannot make it to Germany for any reason, then I will step in to take their place.

Between the 25th of January and 3rd of February I visited Dell’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, as part of preparation for the ISC competition. We spoke to experts from Dell in all sorts of fields ranging from GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) optimization to NFS (Network File System) configuration. We attended various talks throughout the week, and had lots of opportunities to ask them questions relevant to the competition. Dell will be sponsoring the equipment that the team will use.

The competition in Germany will see the team run a multitude of benchmarks that we will need to ensure our cluster can finish as quickly as possible. The only constraint that we have on the cluster is that it cannot exceed a power draw of 3kW, which is not a lot considering that current gaming PCs often have 1kW power supplies.

During our visit, we also got to visit the University of Austin’s visualisation lab, and TACC (the Texas Advanced Computing Centre). The visualisation lab is used to take various computer rendered objects, such as a simulation of the earthquake in Japan, and view them on a massive wall of connected monitors (80 in total). At TACC we got to see Stampede, which is currently the 7th fastest supercomputer in the world. To give a few specs, it has 6400 computers linked via roughly 120km of high speed inifiniband network cables. Each computer has a high performance Intel Xeon processors, as well as an Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor, which gives the entire cluster a total theoretical peak performance of just under 10 petaflops. That’s about 10 quadrillion mathematical operations per second! The cluster also has 270TB of RAM, and about 14PB (a petabyte is 1000 terabytes).

The entire trip was an amazing once in a lifetime experience, and I learnt an incredible amount while I was there that I will hopefully be able to use in my studies and work after I am done."

Representing universities across South Africa, the 2014 ISC Student Cluster Team visits Dell Headquarters in Texas, USA. Kevin Beyers, from NMMU, is on the far left.

Congratulations to Dr Brenda Scholtz and her promoters, Prof Charmain Cilliers and Prof Andre Calitz, whose paper titled “Usability Evaluation of a Medium-sized ERP System in Higher Education” was approved and published in The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation. This paper is a research output from Dr Brenda Scholtz’s PhD.  

Congratulations to Prof Andre Calitz and Dr Margie Cullen whose paper titled “Trends in Destination Marketing of Cities” was selected as a Best Paper for the 13th International Marketing Trends Conference. Prof Andre Calitz and Dr Margie Cullen presented 3 papers at this conference in Venice.

Prof Andre Calitz at the Universita Ca Foscari in Venice

An article titled “Developing new algorithms for photomosaics” on Jonathan Weitz’s Honours project was nominated as one of the top 10 articles in ITEngineering for 2013. Jonathan did his Honours in 2012 and his supervisor was Dr MC du Plessis.