for tomorrow



The VWSA-DAAD International Chair in Automotive Engineering at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University will continue enhancing automotive engineering following the extension of the joint agreement for a further two years.

Established in 2007 through a collaborative partnership between Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the International Chair in Automotive Engineering has facilitated valuable skills development in the local motor manufacturing industry.

Over the period of nine years, all three partners have invested over R16 million in the advanced teaching, learning and research for application in the field of automotive engineering with a strong emphasis on promoting international research links.

Since its inception, the School of Engineering at NMMU has improved its overall focus on automotive engineering, establishing a degree in mechatronics and becoming known as the centre of excellence for Automotive Engineering.

"The close and successful cooperation between VWSA, the DAAD and NMMU affords the students practical orientated studies, both at NMMU as well as our German partner universities," said Professor Udo Bekker, Head of the VWSA-DAAD International Chair in Automotive Engineering at the NMMU.

Highly interesting industry related research topics, which are worked on by international teams, are an optimal preparation for the introduction of young graduates in the dynamic and internationally embossed working life of the automotive industry.

"The continuous feedback from the industry enables the NMMU to quickly react to changing educational requirements and thereby enables future generations of engineers an education on the highest level," commented Bekker.

Both VWSA and NMMU have benefitted tremendously, with NMMU engineering students as well as German exchange students being exposed to real life industry problems. The close collaborative relationship has led to several projects being undertaken at the Uitenhage plant as well as providing opportunities for the automotive supplier base to benefit from the knowledge exchange. 

Ultimately the graduates benefit from the rich exchange of practical work projects to their theory elements, resulting in them being better equipped for the challenges that will face them once they enter the job market in this industry.

"Over the years, there have been many fruitful joint projects between students, professors and VWSA which have resulted in the sharing of knowledge and improvement of technical business outputs in production and engineering areas within the company," commented Thomas Schaefer, VWSA Managing Director. 

"I am delighted that our partnership with VWSA and DAAD will be extended for a further period. As the dominant university involved in automotive training and research in the region, this partnership will continue to greatly benefit our students as well as staff, and enable us to offer unique opportunities in fields of great relevance for South Africa. We value our continued association with VWSA, and of course with DAAD,'' concluded Professor Andrew Leitch, NMMU Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Engagement.

Signing the extension of the VWSA-DAAD International Chair in Automotive Engineering are from left to right: Professor Udo Bekker (Head of the Chair), Thomas Schaefer (VWSA Managing Director) and Professor Derrick Swartz (NMMU Vice Chancellor).