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It is a proud moment for the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Fathima Dewan, lecturer and Head of Programme in the Child and Youth Care Programme within the Community Health Studies Department, after graduating with her Doctor of Philosophy: Public Administration-Peace Studies at DUT’s Virtual Autumn Graduation today, 28 May 2021. 

“It’s a dream come true.  I had to overcome a major personal obstacle in the middle of my studies. At one point I thought I would never complete my PhD but I managed to finish it,” she said. 

Dewan is also the first staff member with a National and BTech Child and Youth Care (CYC) that has now progressed to Doctorate level. 

“I have always had a passion to work with vulnerable children and youth and so I embarked on applying for a National Diploma in Child and Youth Care in the late 1990s at the then Technikon Natal. I proceeded to complete my BTech in early 2000s. I completed my MEd at UKZN in 2008 and enrolled for my PhD in 2015.Since 2015 we have been offering a level 8 Bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care. Previously we have offered the diploma and BTech but these were phased out when we implemented the new level 8 qualification. This qualification was a huge milestone for our programme because we are the only public university at present that offers a level 8 qualification in Child and Youth Care work,” she said. 

She also relayed that she is currently the curriculum adviser to University of Johannesburg (UJ). 

“We are hoping to also offer a degree in Child and Youth Care in the near future. We are very excited to collaborate with UJ because this qualification will develop the field as we are the only public university at present to offer this qualification. This will also offer an opportunity to benchmark our qualification against others. This collaboration will further enhance my role in curriculum development in the field of Child and Youth Care,” she said. 

Dewan also has been instrumental in getting the Masters in Child and Youth Care approved which is going to offered from 2022 by the CHS Department. 

“This is a huge milestone for the field as there is no Masters qualification at present. Like the level 8 Bachelor’s degree in 2015, this Masters will be the first of its kind to be offered at a public university in South Africa. The Master’s is greatly needed in the field to contribute to unique research which is lacking,” she said. 

A PHD study on tackling energy efficiency improvements has resulted in Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’sRajesh Haripersad, completing his studies in this field. He graduated with his Doctor of Philosophy in the Engineering and the Built Environment, specialising in Energy, on Thursday, 27 May 2021 at DUT’s Virtual Autumn Graduation ceremony. 

“I am ecstatic to have completed my studies and very proud to be part of this Autumn graduation, however I am a bit disappointed since it is not a traditional ceremony,” he said. 

Dr Haripersad was supervised by Professor Ian Joseph Lazarus from the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Applied Sciences.  Dr R Singh from the Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute in India and Dr AO Aiyetan from the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment were his co-supervisors. He indicated that the international collaboration together with the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Industrial Energy-Efficiency Training and Resource Centre were instrumental in his research. 

Speaking on research, he said the title of his dissertation is: An assessment of the impact of selected construction materials on the life-cycle energy performance and thermal comfort in buildings. 

He said that he is passionate about sustainable energy and the conservation of the environment. 

“I also wanted to use my experience in the civil and construction industry and professional expertise for my research. This topic encompasses both Engineering and Science and was therefore ideal,” he said. 

As a lecturer and a student, he stressed that practising to balance his career, studies and family life was no easy task.  It was a challenging journey and stressful towards the latter part, especially since he was Acting HOD: Physics and my eldest son was completing his matric year. 

He also relayed that a huge set-back for him was when he suddenly lost his mom due to a terminal illness, at the inception of his studies. However, it was the continued support and unconditional love of his family that motivated him to pursue his dream of obtaining his PhD, his gratitude to them is infinite. 

“South Africa is a developing country with various construction projects that are being undertaken both by government and the private sector. The requirements for the construction of energy-efficient buildings as well as the selection methods for providing construction materials have hence become important. Energy efficiency improvements needs to be implemented in the construction of these buildings in order to decrease energy usage and costs and provide more comfortable conditions for its occupants,” he said. 

He said that previous studies revealed that most of the focus for improving energy efficiency in buildings has been on their operational emissions. He said that it is estimated that about 30% of all energy consumed throughout the lifetime of a building is utilized as embodied energy (this percentage varies based on factors such as age of building, climate and materials). 

“In the past this percentage was much lower, but with increased emphasis placed on reducing operational emissions (such as energy efficiency improvements in heating and cooling systems), the embodied energy contribution has become more significant.  Hence, it is important to employ a life-cycle carbon framework in analysing the carbon emissions in buildings,” he said. 

Dr Haripersad said that the study aims to augment energy efficiency initiatives by showcasing energy reduction strategies for buildings. The study assessed the thermal performance of selected construction materials by analysing different buildings using energy modelling program, EnergyPlus and TRNSYS.  

With ENVISION2030, he added that he would like to focus on Green Ecosystems to develop projects to improve efficiency of resource utilisation and decrease environmental risks of our university infrastructure. He would also like to initiate innovation and entrepreneurship projects. 

Going forward, he plans to research and manages energy-related projects, through the supervision of postgraduate students. 

“By forming industrial, national and international research collaborations, I hope to promote student exchange and knowledge transfer in sustainable energy,” he said. 

Pictured: Fathima Dewan

Pictured: Rajesh Haripersad

Waheeda Peters

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