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INDUSTRY and academia have come together in Nelson Mandela Bay again with the formation of a new diploma to meet the growing needs of the country’s chemical and refining process industry.
A chemical process technology diploma is to be offered by NMMU from 2013 and is the first of its kind in South Africa.
The Diploma in Chemical Process Technology focuses on industrial processes that convert raw materials such as crude oil, natural gas, coal, and chemicals into a wide range of products.
“A feasibility study for the new crude oil refinery at Coega and studies elsewhere in this industry globally, show that there is a huge shortage of appropriately trained staff. The new diploma seeks to provide the chemical and petrochemical industry with part of the solution,” says NMMU’s Shawn Gouws, who will be co-coordinating the new diploma.
According to Mr Gouws such graduates will run production units, help design operations, implement process controls, and address corrosion and other operational concerns. They could also participate in research into new products and production technologies, continuous improvement programmes, as well as environmental and reclamation techniques that will keep South African industry at the cutting edge.
The introduction of the three-year qualification has been extensively welcomed by industry, especially the South African refineries that are offering bursaries to academically-deserving students. PetroSA, for example, signed an agreement with NMMU in March to provide financial and other support for such students.
According to Dr Gouws the diploma was initiated as a result of lengthy collaboration between industry and InnoVenton, NMMU’s highly successful Institute for Chemical Technology.
InnoVenton has state-of-the-art chemical process facilities which augment the training of graduates in knowledge, technical and managerial skills.
“Students will spend much of their third year in industry and at InnoVenton with its Kilolab and industry-appropriate facilities so that they are well prepared for the world of work,” said Shawn, adding that the programme’s graduates were assured of employment in light of the substantial skills shortage.