Science & Technology in the spotlight as South Africa marks National Science Week 2012

The Minister of Science & Technology Naledi Pandor, the German Ambassador to South Africa, Dr Horst Freitag, Swiss Ambassador to South Africa Mr Christian Meuwly and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, Prof Ihron Rensburg,  were just some of the dignatories present at the launch of the 2012 National Science Week at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus earlier today. The launch was attended by at least 6-thousand learners from schools in the Gauteng Province.

Aptly themed, “The Role of Science & Technology in Economic Development”, National Science Week confirms the Department’s contribution to the gradual transformation of South Africa’s resource-based economy to a knowledge economy.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Pandor said, “It’s no doubt that Science and Technology have changed the world tremendously and countries that excel in the sector become powerful players in the economy of the world. The onus is therefore on every country to establish how it wants to positions itself. Recent developments, such as the bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as well as the collaboration with European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN who along with South African scientists including those from the University of Johannesburg generated a world-wide interest in science and the possibilities it offers for humanity. This advanced South Africa’s efforts in this regard and positions South Africa as a force to be reckoned with.

“We are convinced that since South Africa and its other eight African partner countries will be hosting the majority of the SKA dishes, we will soon be that place on the global map that provides answers about the early history of the universe, about , dark matter and gravity” she said.

Professor Ihron Rensburg, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg says,

“Science and Technology are the differentiators between countries that are able to tackle poverty effectively by growing and developing the economy and those that are not. The extent to which developing economies emerge as economic powerhouses depends on their ability to grasp and apply insights from science and technology and use them creatively. Innovation is the primary driver of technological growth and living standards. The University is proud to partner with the Department of Science and Technology in this regard.

Professor Rensburg continues, “In biomedical engineering, we have developed advanced image processing techniques to better diagnose tuberculosis. UJ engineers have developed advanced artificial intelligence techniques that use microarray data for diagnosis of leukaemia and a rapid prototyping infrastructure used in the design and manufacture of an operational aircraft engine for Adept Technology. Our Laser Research Centre is leading efforts to investigate the field of phototherapy with specific emphasis on Low Intensity Laser Irradiation as applied to diabetic wound healing; Photodynamic Therapy used as a therapeutic modality for cancer; and the augmentation of stem cells as applied to regenerative medicine.”

National Science Week 2012 coincides with the United Nations International Year of sustainable energy for all. National Science Week celebrations will be conducted in collaboration with higher education institutions and science councils countrywide.

Those wishing to participate in the NSW activities information is available on the department’s Facebook page www.facebook/National Science WeekSA or they can follow @ScienceWeekSA on Twitter using the hashtag #NSW2012. Vodacom Live! customers can find more information on South Africa’s own social networking site Chomi.

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Science & Technology in the spotlight as South Africa marks National Science Week 2012