Change the world

Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment and Information Technology

Technology Research Activity Centre (TRAC) Eastern Cape Centre

A national, non – profit programme which supports Science, Mathematics and Technology Education in South African secondary schools. The Technology Research Activity Centre (TRAC) also tries to improve what is being done to enhance these subjects among school learners.

TRAC is involved in education intervention programmes, where the main aim is to uplift the standard of Physical Science education in South Africa. This is done with educator training programmes, vocational guidance assistance, as well as classroom intervention in schools where the resources are limited or lacking. By doing so, TRAC is true to its mission to enable and encourage South African school leavers to enter careers in Science, Engineering and Technology. TRAC is instrumental in redressing not only educational problems, but also industrial shortages.

merSETA Chair for Engineering Development

The purpose of this Chair is to grow human resources in electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering, as well as mechatronics in order to enhance the manufacturing industry in the Eastern Cape to enable competitiveness and a growing and sustainable economy. The objectives are to increase capacity at FET Colleges; promote women in engineering; create an aware- ness of the relevance and importance of engineering at schools within rural communities in the Eastern Cape Province; increase capacity of educators at technical high schools in the Eastern Cape Province; and develop specialist training courses to address the needs of the manufacturing industry.


eNtsa is recognised as a leading research, design and technology support centre for the manufacturing sector. This is achieved through provision of research supporting new technology development, technology support for optimising existing production processes and infrastructure and advancing the high-end skills level by offering technical training according to international best practices.

eNtsa provides support for enterprises in the first, second and emerging economy within the engineering and manufacturing sector, with a specific focus on the automotive component sector. This is in order to improve the sector’s ability to be innovative and competitive with the aim of making the South African automotive industry more attractive as a financially viable exporter of high quality components.

The Technology Station is actively involved with testing, contract research, industrial design and development and the transfer of knowledge. eNtsa is constantly involved in assisting various SME’s with product and process evaluations to ensure conformity and to assist with evaluating different process techniques to make data available that could assist SME’s to address a specific problem.

VWSA-DAAD International Chair in Automotive Engineering

Nelson Mandela University aims to facilitate increased innovation and international competitiveness of the integrated Motor Manufacturing Industry (MMI) in the Eastern Cape and to provide appropriate human resource development that will ensure an adequate number of high-level trained specialists in engineering with leading edge expertise. The focus is on materials and manufacturing technology and processes to enhance technology transfer opportunities from the university mainly into the small and medium enterprise (SME) automotive component supplier sector.

Isuzu Chair in Mechatronics

The purpose of the Chair is to assist in the establishment of new re- search and development trends, opportunities and initiatives with- in the field of mechatronics. It facilitates knowledge transfer into teaching and learning concepts and integrates it into undergraduate and postgraduate engineering programmes. It further seeks to strengthen international opportunities and cooperation between Nelson Mandela University, other national and international institutes of learning and the automotive industry.

Friction Processing Research Unit (FPRU)

This Institute supports Nelson Mandela University ’s mission, to identify and serve the needs of the international/national friction processing community by contributing to sustainable development through high quality research, technology development and continuing human resource development. The purpose is to engage in research to grow knowledge in the field of friction processing with a focus on process optimisation, modelling and material characterisation; and to develop and optimise innovative friction processing techniques.

Advanced Mechatronics Technology Centre (AMTC)

AMTC is a non-research entity focusing on growing human resourc- es development in the field of engineering. This include the Siemens accredited training facility, the FESTO accredited training facility, the Automotive Experiential Career Development Programme (AECDP), the Starting Blocks community outreach project, and the AIDC HRD programme which includes the advancement of black engineers, technicians and technologists.

Ford Engine Research Unit (FERU)

 Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa entered into a partnership with Nelson Mandela University to create an engine research unit with the focus on achieving a higher level of expertise, innovation and competitiveness in the automotive industry. The FERU will centre its activities on new engine research and development trends, new initiatives within the field of engine testing and associated research, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge into teaching and learning concepts for both undergraduate and postgraduate engineering programmes.


Chair for Education in Human Settlements Development and Management

This Chair is a national portfolio that carries a mandate of the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) in the efforts of leading the provision of advice and technical services in the professionalisation of the Human Settlements sector (and all related activities) in South Africa.

During 2012 the national DHS and the Nelson Mandela University sealed a Memorandum of Agreement on Professionalisation of Human Settlements Education in South Africa and the Chair for Education in Human Settlements Development and Management was established and launched at the Nelson Mandela University in 2013.

The initial focus of the Chair was to the introduction of the four-year Bachelor of Human Settlements Development (first of its kind in South Africa) which commenced at the Nelson Mandela University in 2014.

In summary, the role of this Chair is as follows:

  • Professionalisation of Human Settlements Sector: The Chair is to provide advisory and technical services in the professionalisation of the human settlements sector in South Africa.
  • Development and the implementation of a degree qualification: A four-year Bachelor's of Human Settlements Development (BHSD)qualification.
  • Development and implementation of a continued professional development programmes: The Short Learning Programmes(SLP's).
  • Research and Innovation: Lead ongoing, sound and transdisciplinary research and innovation on the most pressing questions that confront the envisage future cities and human settlements.
  • South African Council for Human Settlements Professionals: Investigate and support the establishment of professional body to govern human settlements professionals.

The Centre of Community Technology

The Centre of Community Technologies(CCT) at Nelson Mandela University aims to promote radical development of the human potential of particularly disadvantaged communities through the use of technologies.It is the aim of CCT to promote policy interventions aimed at lowering  market costs of technologies which hold significant prospects for social and economic empowerment of poor communities.

It furthermore aims to develop best practice strategies in collaboration with community actors that demonstrate effective ways of harnessing technological innovations in support of social and economic empowerment of the poor.It is envisaged that such aims will be achieved through strategic partnerships with interest groups in communities working on progressive experiments requiring the use of responsive technologies to form part of broader social strategies aimed at promoting equility,reducing poverty, fostering job creation and entrprenuership as well as democratic participation in society.Ultimately, the reaserch and engagement activities undertaken in the CCT will lead to a better understanding of how innovations in science and technology could enhance the living and working conditions of poor and vulnerable groups in society.

One of the major challenges facing most developing countries such as South Africa today is how to take full and smart advantage of quite spectacular and far-reaching advances in science and technology not only in promoting  national economic developmnebt, but particularly addressing the needs of poor and marginalised sections of society.Whilst technology access in the pre-digital era has always been a major barrier to economic and social development in developing countries, this is no longer an absolute barrier for at least three reasons:Firstly,the proliferation of distributive and open technologies, and limits to the power of proprietary frameworks.Secondly,the increasingly lower delivery cost of new technologies.Lastly, the emergence of multiple sources of technology innovation and development in civil society.The Centre focuses on a variety of topics as symbolised by the leaves and branches of the tree.