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Innovating for the Future: UKZN’s New Design Lab

Professor Tom Walingo officially opens the new Design Lab in the Discipline of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering.

Innovating for the Future: UKZN’s New Design Lab

UKZN’s Discipline of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (EECE) has launched its new Design Lab – an innovative facility which will support and enhance both student learning and project development.

Spearheaded by Mr Divesh Maharaj, the facility was officially opened by the Discipline’s Academic Leader, Professor Tom Walingo.

At the heart of the lab’s capabilities is its upgraded infrastructure, notably transitioning from traditional wet acid dip printed circuit board (PCB) manufacture to the safer and faster computer numerical control (CNC) printed circuit routing. With the acquisition of four cutting-edge Cron CNC Routers, stationed in Lab 2-11N, students can now craft their printed circuit boards under the supervision of technical experts. This not only enhances the learning experience but also aligns with the curriculum’s emphasis on PCB development, empowering students with practical skills essential for their future careers.

Furthermore, within the confines of G-206S, the Design Lab boasts 25 electronic instrumentation stations, each meticulously equipped with essential tools such as digital oscilloscopes, multimeters, function generators, power supplies, and soldering irons. This standardised setup ensures fair and equal access to equipment, eliminating the need for a loan-out system. Moreover, the lab doubles as a training centre, facilitating instruction in instrumentation electronics and soldering techniques, enriching students’ educational journey beyond the classroom.

The introduction of a limited number of mobile rack units further enhances flexibility, allowing students to work in some of the more specialised laboratories in the discipline, further reinforcing the lab’s adaptability to diverse learning scenarios.

The Design Lab not only streamlines the development, prototyping, and testing processes for fourth-year design projects but also ensures equitable access to resources for all, levelling the playing field and fostering a culture of inclusivity. Additionally, by centralising equipment within a secure environment, the University mitigates the risks of theft and damage, safeguarding valuable assets for future generations of innovators.

In essence, the Design Lab epitomises UKZN’s unwavering dedication to fostering excellence in engineering education, empowering students to become trailblazers in their respective fields. As this innovative facility paves the way for future breakthroughs, it underscores UKZN’s commitment to driving progress and shaping a brighter tomorrow through the power of education and innovation.

Words: Mohamed Fayaz Khan

Photograph: Supplied