A highly sought-after and unique qualification

2016-09-21 06:00
Natasha Erasmus prepares a test panel for paint analysis.           Photos: SUPPLIED

Natasha Erasmus prepares a test panel for paint analysis. Photos: SUPPLIED

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DO you love science and think chemistry is very interesting?

Then you should consider studying Polymer Technology at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University! This will open the world of plastics, paints, rubber, foams, composites, adhesives and many more materials to you. It can also provide the pathway to a financially highly rewarding job and career.

The opportunity to study paint and rubber technology is unique to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the only university in South Africa to provide tertiary-level studies in these areas.

Numerous bursaries are available for this qualification and graduates are highly sought-after by companies such as Continental, Goodyear, Aberdare cables, Bridgestone, Plascon and Volkswagen in the Eastern Cape.

In their search for suitably qualified students, companies regularly contact the university looking for polymer-trained people, even from outside the Eastern Cape from areas such as Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, says Fanus Gerber, senior lecturer in Polymer Technology at NMMU.

He describes Polymer Technology as the manufacture, processing, analysis and application of long chain molecules.

Industries that are totally dependent on polymers include information technology, aerospace, music, clothing, medical, motor manufacturing, building, packaging and many more.

Chemistry forms the basis and starting point of Polymer Technology, but it also leans on other scientific study areas such as engineering and manufacturing.

According to Dr Percy Hlangothi, the director of the Centre for Rubber Science and Technology at NMMU, the Polymer Technology programme is best placed at NMMU because Port Elizabeth is home to motor vehicle manufacturers such as VW, GM and FAW.

These companies use polymers for a large number of car components, such as windscreens, bumpers, dashboards, seats, tyres and many more.

The centre is currently undertaking research in partnership with REDISA to find novel ways of recycling tyres. Through this partnership, the centre also offers bursaries to undergraduate students studying towards Polymer Technology and qualifications in chemistry.

Polymer technologists are employed in the production and production management of manufactured articles such as tyres, cables, packaging material, textile fibres, moulded plastic products and paints, as well as the technical divisions of companies manufacturing these products.

As training manager of Goodyear South Africa and learning and development manager for emerging markets, Eileen Gardner points out that the skills that are obtained in this training programme are ideally suited for the human resource requirements of technical positions in Goodyear.

This diploma course entails two years’ full-time study followed by one year in-service training in industry.

Academic entry requirements include at least a National Senior Certificate (grade 12) Level 4 (50-59%) for Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

For further information contact the faculty officer for Science at NMMU, Yvonne Tembo at Yvonne.Tembo@nmmu.ac.za or Fanus Gerber, Senior Lecturer in the Chemistry Department at Fanus.Gerber@nmmu.ac.za .

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