Posted on September 22, 2015

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The University of Cape Town’s is committed to staying at the forefront of research and teaching, and to embrace the university’s mission to produce world class graduates with a love of lifelong learning instilled through an intellectually stimulating environment.

The University’s Department of Electrical Engineering’s desire to implant the seeds for this love to grow is evident in the commitment to encompass a stimulating real world application environment where students will graduate with a lifelong enthusiasm for engineering.

An important facet of this approach is to provide students with the latest measurement tools that will motivate and inspire the students, and expose them to industry standard instruments they encounter when they transition to industry. Having access to world class technology is one thing, but ease of use is critical to minimise learning curves thus freeing up more time to complete projects.

Electrical Engineering’s 3rd and 4th year general purpose laboratory is the largest in the faculty, and caters for power electronics, mechatronics, telecoms and general electronics. The lab sees upwards of 200 students a year, is open 24 x 7 and is also used by post graduate students. The University has established over 25 benches with Keysight (formerly Agilent Electronics Measurement group) oscilloscopes, waveform generators, digital multimeters and power supplies.

Justin Pead, the department’s Chief Technical Officer, an MSc graduate himself, understands the need to inspire the students, and with Stephen Schrire -his predecessor now retired and the driving force behind the creation of the modern facility - cites a number of reasons why UCT has partnered with Concilium Technologies (Agilent’s and now Keysight’s authorised technology representative in southern Africa).

The equipment is easy to learn with very intuitive user interfaces and combined with the high specification builds confidence in the students while developing, debugging and troubleshooting their projects.

The oscilloscopes have hardware flexibility with a built in waveform generator, DMM, logic timing analyser and protocol analyser that all can be added or upgraded through software, rather than hardware, ensuring excellent price/performance. Having the ability to save screenshots to memory sticks is also valuable for the students.

Their test equipment is robust and reliable, and we have an excellent relationship with Concilium. The local support is responsive to any technical enquiries, and should any failures occur, there is an accredited service partner in South Africa who can repair and calibrate the equipment to the same standards as Keysight.

According to the yearly QS World University rankings, UCT is still the top ranked African University, and amongst the top 10 universities in BRICS.