UJ launches intelligent systems programme

Sibahle Malinga

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has launch the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS), as part of its strategy to drive its Industry 4.0 skills development initiatives.

  In a statement the institution said establishment of IIS seeks to provide a more optimistic vision for the future of human-machine collaborations, particularly regarding augmented human intelligence. “The IIS will bring together ICT industry academics and researchers, intellectual leaders and experts to help develop innovative ways of integrating South African thought and research through leading-edge sciences, technologies and engineering.”

  The IIS is UJ’s flagship Institute for Global Excellence and Stature, originally established in 2016 to operate through three main facets; academic development, strategic research and enterprise development.

  In its academic facet, the institute will deal with the development of multidisciplinary taught and online programmes for postgraduate qualification and continuing professional development. It also has ongoing research in strategic focus areas aligned to Industry 4.0.

  The enterprise facet works with industry and government entities in solving their problems, using state-of-the-art innovations, according to the institution.

  The director of the Institute for Intelligent Systems Professor Babu Paul said the institute provides a space for Masters and PhD students to collaborate with ICT industry experts, to develop projects that address current and emerging challenges in the South African context.

  “SA continues its transformation journey as it responds to the disruptions and opportunities of the technological revolution. The transition sees the country emerging with a dual role; stimulating Industry 4.0 and embedding digital transformation initiatives into everyday operations. In this context, the role of research and innovation towards a coherent, fact-based response to 4IR can never be overemphasised,” Paul said.

  He added that the institute is pursuing several collaborations and partnerships, with the aim of breaking the silos hindering integration between government, academia, industry and other relevant stakeholders.

  The institute offers a Masters in Artificial Intelligence, Masters in Financial Engineering, and short learning programmes in Computational Intelligence. Its research in strategic focus areas aligned to Industry 4.0 includes cyber physical systems, optimisation, predictive maintenance, controls and communication.

  “Some of the innovative solutions that have been developed include a data-free Android mobile app called ‘Hear it Loud’ which is a sound amplifier for people with a hearing impairment. We have also developed digital time-tables, which are placed on large liquid-crystal display screens outside the university’s classrooms. We have also built a drone from scratch, which is aimed at inspecting Eskom’s power lines. The drone project is at finalisation stage,” Paul said.

  Together with the Technology Transfer Office, the institute foresees the generation of start-up support, providing students with development support that will see them commercialising their projects.

  IIS also hosts the Centre for Telecommunication, which is focused on conducting both fundamental and applied research on cutting-edge topics in information theory, powerline communication and visible light communication.

  “Serious challenges in society and industry; such as fraud-prevention, better water resource management, efficient and inexpensive energy, advanced education and better healthcare are some of the challenges IIS aims to tackle more effectively, using a combination of big data and intelligent systems designed to analyse, act and improve life. These systems are creating new opportunities for industry and business, and new experiences for users and consumers,” Paul said.

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