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HARD-WORKING, DUT STAFF MEMBERS, MS NONTOKOZO NGCOBO AND MR EBRAHIM ASMAL BOTH OBTAIN THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT STAFF OF THE YEAR AWARD

HARD-WORKING, DUT STAFF MEMBERS, MS NONTOKOZO NGCOBO AND MR EBRAHIM ASMAL BOTH OBTAIN THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT STAFF OF THE YEAR AWARD

Ms Nontokozo Ngcobo, Manager: Innobiz DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Mr Ebrahim Asmal, Senior Lecturer: Department of Information Technology (IT) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) were both awarded the Community Engagement Staff of the Year Award at the second Community Engagement Projects Showcase and Excellence Awards 2021. This prestigious event was hosted online by the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Innovation and Engagement at DUT, on 14 December 2021.

Ngcobo was awarded the award for showing an exceptional commitment to the community engagement work in the past 12 months by initiating and leading mutually beneficial collaborations to service communities and Asmal was awarded the award for showing an exceptional commitment to the community engagement work in the past 12 months by creating spaces for the practical applications of knowledge to produce future-ready graduates both inline the ENVISION2030.

Announcing the recipients of the Community Engagement Excellence Awards was Ms Phumzile Xulu, Community Engagement Practitioner at DUT. Awarding the Community Engagement Staff of the Year Award, Xulu said they were privileged to award two staff members of this award.

“This is for their contribution in the last 12 months in creating spaces for the practical applications of knowledge to produce future-ready graduates. Also, for creating and developing collaborations with others to make sure that when we engage, we are supported,” said Xulu.

Calling upon Ms Ngcobo, Xulu said she heads the Innobiz DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is based in the Midlands Campus. She further mentioned that Ngcobo and her team work tirelessly in many community engagement projects, supporting communities in and around Pietermaritzburg. Xulu referred to Ngcobo as one person who never gets tired, who speaks passionately about the work they do in advancing entrepreneurship for students in the University.

Receiving the award, Ngcobo said: “This is very encouraging as Prof Moyo indicated that it is something that we do over and above our normal work. It is not easy because we must navigate the resources needed to create solutions for the challenges facing our communities. All we want to do is to be part of the team that unlocks the potential of those communities. Our focus is on the younger generation, the young people in primary and high school as we want to build future leaders and unlock their potential.”

Ngcobo said this award was not only for herself but her team, her colleagues from the various departments, and the Midlands Campus and she thanked the Campus Director, Dr Joe Molete for his support. She also thanked Prof Moyo for always providing guidance on how best to work on projects without using so much money, not forgetting the students for their brilliant ideas. In closing, Ngcobo thanked the DUT management for making the ENVISION2030 applicable and implementable.

Introducing the second winner of the award, Xulu said Asmal is a man on the mission. She said he is always here, there, and everywhere.

“I have not met anyone so dependable than Mr Asmal. I can assure you, if you want anything done, you can ask Mr Asmal and he will do it. I always feel inspired by the work that he does. I think what we know most about his department, faculty and in the IT field in general, we know more of it because of his involvement. He never tires. Mr. Asmal, thank you so much for all the work that you do,” said Xulu.

Speaking about the award, Asmal began by thanking Prof Moyo for supporting them in their ventures, saying without her support all this will not be possible. He said these projects they do out of love as they are not only important to them but to also DUT.

“When we do these projects and they get recognized nationally and internationally, that is how we put DUT out there and we can get DUT to number one. That is why we are recognized as market leaders in several fields especially around coding and robotics,” noted Asmal.

Xulu further acknowledged the staff and students for tirelessly putting all efforts and their time and resources to support their communities in various ways. Xulu expressed her gratitude to the DUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Sibusiso Moyo for her continuous support of this event, saying it serves as a motivation to encourage people to do this hard work, especially now during the time of COVID-19.

“I know as a Community Engagement Practitioner, when you do community engagement, it is not only your time that you give up. It’s also your sweat, your blood, and everything that you own that you put in there,” said Xulu.

Prof Moyo acknowledged the DUT staff and students for their commitment and excellence in supporting community engagement and those who pitched their projects, saying without them DUT will not be able to make the impact it makes. She also conveyed a special thanks to the Community Engagement Committee members for their dedication to their work.

Mr Asmal also won two other prizes on the day, the IoT Community Outreach Program and 3D Face Shield Project that he is leading won the second and third prizes in the Top Three Selected Projects in the Staff category, walking away with a total of R30 000 prize to support these projects.

Pictured: Ms Nontokozo Ngcobo and Mr Ebrahim Asmal.

Simangele Zuma

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