ENTREPRENEURS, engineers, technical and marketing leaders from at least 140 Port Elizabeth-based companies are involved in a variety of projects run under the auspices of the Advanced Mechatronic Technology Centre at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

According to lecturer Clive Hanads innovators who run their own companies in Nelson Mandela Bay, larger corporates like VWSA, others like CustomWorks and Modimad, as well as former students are all attracted to the unit by the projects students are working on.

He says they give freely of their time and often resources or equipment to assist the students.

Hands is heading up the university’s Eco-Car project, which has been accepted to participate in the flagship Shell Eco-Marathon (SEM): Europe to be held in London in July 2016.

“This is largely due to the excellent award-winning impression that our students made in their first attempt on the recent SEM: Africa event,” says Hands.

Team NMMU Eco-Car won the 2015 Shell Eco-marathon South Africa Off Track Award for Perseverance and Team Spirit.

For the students the experience of speaking to a cross section of industry-based people is invaluable. These include company directors, technical experts, business owners, sales and marketing managers.

“This also teaches students a number of ‘soft’ or interpersonal skills as they learn how to interact with people outside of the engineering field,” he says.

NMMU is also encouraging innovation in high school students in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“We want to involve at least four schools in a local competition, with the dual intention of promoting science and technology to attract future students, and to have an Eastern Province schools team accompanying the NMMU team to the SEM: Africa event in October 2016 next year,” he says.