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Five (More) Firsts From UWC

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

The University of the Western Cape wasn’t actually the first university in the Western Cape (don’t let the name mislead you). Still, UWC has managed to rack up an impressive amount of firsts. For example.

Five (More) Firsts From UWC: From Us To The World

There’s a first time for everything - and some firsts are game-changers. The first controlled fire; the first wheel; the first time someone realized that bread was even better when you put something between the slices.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has had plenty of amazing firsts over the years. Firsts like...

2000: The UWC Feral Cat Project (TUFCAT) starts taking care of the University’s feral cats, ensuring that the cats have food every single day (including during university holidays). It also helps workers at UWC and students with sterilising and emergency veterinary assistance for their pets. In return, the cats provide a natural form of pest control, preventing any potential rodent problems from emerging. TUFCAT’s success inspires other institutes to try similar efforts.

2003: UWC acquires the first protein X-ray crystallography facility in South Africa (thanks to funding by the Carnegie Foundation); a major boost to research capacity development in Biotechnology. UWC goes on to develop globally-recognised expertise in biotechnology, especially at the Southern African National Bioinformatics Institute and the Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics.

2014: The DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security becomes the very first Centre of Excellence (CoE) to be housed at a historically disadvantaged institution – UWC, naturally. The CoE is a virtual organisation that brings together the expertise of numerous South African and international institutions and over 100 researchers across various disciplines to tackle South Africa’s triple burden of malnutrition. This includes the underweight issue (caused by diets of inadequate quantities), malnourishment (arising from diets of inadequate quality) and the overweight issue.

2017: A group of UWC students in nuclear physics (and their professor) perform a major African-led experiment at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland - using some of the most powerful scientific equipment in existence to examine sub-atomic matter and reflect on what happens when stars explode. It’s the first such African-led experiment to be proposed and accepted by CERN - but thanks to the fact that it requires an entirely new facility at CERN called HIE-ISOLDE, it’s actually the second to be run there (well done, Wits, for stealing our thunder!).

2018: UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry - Africa’s leading and largest dental school - launches a new state-of-the-art video conferencing system that will allow students to watch live surgeries in class or at home - a first for South Africa. The technology lowers travelling costs and places geographically remote and dispersed students directly in the classroom, provided they have an internet connection and a device with a webcam (smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop).

 

Know of any other UWC firsts you’d like to share? Why not let us know at ia@uwc.ac.za? And speaking of firsts, did you know this isn’t our first list of UWC firsts?

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