The Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) donated on 18 May two high-tech turbodiesel engines to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Ford Engine Research Unit (FERU) – and, in a surprise announcement, also pledged to donate a Ford Ranger vehicle to the university.

DONATION FOR RESEARCH  … Ford Motor Company, represented by Ockert Berry (left) and Jim Vella (right), donated two Ford Ranger engines and a car to NMMU’s Ford Engine Research Unit – a donation gratefully received by NMMU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Engagement Prof Andrew Leitch (middle).

The two engines are Duratorq TDCi engines, which are machined and assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth, and power the Pretoria-built Ford Ranger, which is exported to 150 markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Jim Vella, President of the Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, based at Ford Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, and Ockert Berry, Vice President: Operations for the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, handed over the two new engines, which comprise the latest 2.2-litre four-cylinder and powerful 3.2-litre five-cylinder units.

These will be used by FERU – which is part of the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering – to expand the development of engineering expertise, and facilitate engine testing and research among its students.

“We are thrilled with the two new engines donated by Ford, which will enable FERU to test new engine and dyno-control systems [i.e. dynamometers measuring power, torque, etc], while also training personnel and interns in the operation of this facility. This will enhance the current collaboration between NMMU and Ford, to continue with on-going problem solving relating to engine testing challenges. [The donation is] of significant reciprocal technical and financial benefit,” said NMMU’s Head of Department: Mechanical Engineering, Gys Kleyn.

Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant already has a partnership with NMMU, which commenced with the launch of FERU in 2012. The facility conducts independent engine testing for Ford, while also creating reciprocal training and research opportunities between Ford and the university.

“We have pulled a lot of employees out of this facility. They are doing an outstanding job,” said Berry, who further said the donation of the engines was about “developing engineering skills that we so desperately need in South Africa”.

The donation falls under Ford’s community-focused “Better World” programme, which runs in 40 countries worldwide.

“Education and skills development is a core component of Ford’s ‘Better World’ philosophy, which aims to uplift communities and improve people’s lives,” Vella said. “We are proud to see Ford forge an even closer alliance with NMMU, creating greater opportunities for skills development, and generating a pool of automotive engineers for the future.”

In addition to establishing new research and development trends, opportunities and initiatives within the field of engine testing and associated research, FERU also aims to enhance the transfer of technology from Higher Education into the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and the small and medium enterprise (SME) component supplier sector.

FERU boasts state-of-the-art technology, including the Rototest Dynamometer from Sweden, which can test four wheel drive and high speed performance vehicles without any slippage as it does not use a rolling road. It is made available for performance testing to industry role players, and can test to speeds of 350km/h and 1000kW in total.

No other South African university has this type of dynamometer available to their undergraduate and postgraduate students for testing, practical and research work.