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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) Community Engagement recently hosted a Research Methodology and Design Thinking workshop at the DUT Hotel School, Ritson Campus.

The workshop was aimed at giving the DUT students and the DUT alumni a platform to develop innovative ideas that integrate circular economy to contribute to the development of their communities. The training was also aimed at building capacity for students who have volunteered to support the Architecture Design and Engineering (ADE) Programme for High School learners. The ADE Programme aims to support and capacitate learners with a great interest in pursuing technical design-related careers, such as architecture, engineering, and town planning. The project supports Grades 10 and 11 Engineering and Graphic Design (EGD) learners from schools in the Umkhumbane area.

The workshop was facilitated by Ms Phumzile Xulu, the DUT Community Engagement Practitioner. In her opening session, she welcomed the students and expressed her utmost gratitude to the students who had attended the workshop and shared that the best way to learn is to teach.

“The students will be imparting these skills to the learners on the ADE programme and supporting them as they develop their architectural design solutions for the Archiathon. The main aim of the circular economy is to make the most out of resources available to us by applying the basic concepts of the 3 R’s which are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Linear economy is not environmentally friendly, because it follows the pattern of, extracting from the environment and producing a product that will later be discarded. Although this has been a normality for many years, it does not protect the environment and increases the consumption of natural resources,” she said.

On the other hand, she relayed that the circular economy is beneficial because it protects the environment, drives more innovative models, creates more employment opportunities, and promotes resource independence.

Xulu stated that an undeniable problem faced by the Ukhumbane community is the lack of an effective waste management system as heaps of waste can be seen lying uncollected on every street corner. She indicated that students were divided into smaller groups and tasked with working on solutions that address the waste management issue using the research methods and the design thinking process taught during the workshop and then presenting their architectural design ideas that emerged during the discussions.

Ms Snenhlanhla Nani, a DUT second year student at DUT, who is currently studying towards a Diploma in Town and Regional Planning raised an important statement when she delivered her group’s ideas, “Proper waste management is crucial to minimise waste to landfill, proper disposal of solid waste generated, decrease respiratory infections caused by pollution and potentially provide employment to the youth of Umkhumbane,” presented Nani.

Mr Nothiswa Nyoka, a second-year student at DUT currently studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Civil Engineering, stated that there is a need to involve the community by providing them with education to help manage and dispose of waste properly for them to adopt future initiatives.

The workshop proved to be successful as Ms Nani enthusiastically reflected by saying, “I have attended many design thinking workshops but this one was very informative as I had to do the practical work to apply the skills learned.”

“I have gained so much by attending this workshop and will apply the knowledge gained here to develop innovative ideas to help my community,” said the inspired Ms Nompumelelo Ngcobo, a DUT Tourism and Management student.

Pictured: The group of students that attended the workshop with Community Engagement staff.

Zama Gwamanda

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