The Department of Process Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU) welcomed approximately 160 high school learners during the Faculty of Engineering’s recent Winter Week — an annual opportunity for aspiring engineers to catch a glimpse into the life of an SU engineering student. During this educational programme, high school learners from across the country take tours of the Faculty’s departments and facilities and interact with lecturers and students. Winter Week aims to equip learners with valuable engineering information and experiences, to help them make informed decisions about their future studies and career choices.
At the Department of Process Engineering, the visitors enjoyed a tour of our state-of-the-art laboratories and the always-popular Pilot Lab. During an electrostatic separation demonstration, learners saw how electricity can be used to separate valuable mineral sands from sand. Next, students were introduced to the field of bioengineering, and looked at different cultures and bacteria through microscopes. The last demonstration focused on alginate beads, as an example of how a valuable compound can be extracted from seaweeds, which can then be used as a thickener or in food processing. Learners saw how to go from a sol solution of alginate, to a solid gel in the form of hydrogel beads. Following the fun and information-filled tour, the students attended a Q&A session, discussing all things chemical engineering with departmental lecturers.
“It is always a pleasure for the Department to host prospective students to inform them about chemical engineering in general and to showcase some of our activities,” said Departmental Chairman, Prof Christie Dorfling. “This year’s Winter Week was no exception, and it was indeed a positive experience to interact with the learners through laboratory demonstrations and informal discussions. We trust that the learners found the visit enjoyable and insightful, and hope to welcome many of them as first-year students in 2023.”