The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Defence, Peace, Safety and Security (DPSS), in conjunction with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and several international partners, are launching South Africa’s first Master of Engineering (MEng) degree in radar and electronic defence on February 21.
The programme at UCT welcomes its first intakes, comprising six full-time students and 14 part-time students – including four international students – and expert lecturers from several universities around the world, including Professors Fulvio Gini and Marco Martorella, of the University of Pisa, in Italy, and Robert Tough, of software development house Igence, based in the UK.
“The aim is to obtain international standing for the degree and encourage foreign students to study here by enlisting inter- national lecturers to teach this programme,” says CSIR DPSS principal researcher for radar and electronic competence Leon Staphorst.
Other lecturers include Professor Michael Inggs, of UCT, and Professor Keith Palmer, of the University of Stellenbosch.
The concept, developed by CSIR DPSS principal researcher for radar and electronic competence Willie Nel, is aligned with an industry drive to improve focused training on radar and electronic defence.
“A more substantial complement of programmes is needed to give students the opportunity to study towards a postgraduate qualification that is specifically focused on radar and electronic defence,” Staphorst says.
He adds that the industry is absorbing and training many young graduates just out of university as there is no solid training in radar engineering or electronic defence in South Africa. The CSIR has been mentoring, coaching and teaching graduates.
Both the public and private sectors will benefit from the influx of the 15 to 20 newly trained radar engineers expected a year.
Nel, Staphorst and Inggs developed this programme by identifying the different areas within radar and electronic defence that are essential in the industry.
“The programme was subdivided into specific degree courses, one focusing on the electronics field and the other on radar. “However, expansion of the electronic defence programmes is under way and will be introduced next year,” says Nel.
The MEng degree comprises an Introduc- tion to Radar module, which covers the basic concepts of radar systems, followed by a Radar Signal and Data Processing module.
Nel adds that the Introduction to Electronic Defence module will focus on protecting radar systems against any form of electronic threat.
Further, the Antenna Theory with Applications in Radar and Electronic Defence programme, examines the application of electromagnetics in a real-world system.
“The Mathematics for Radar and Electronic Defence programme covers any mathematical basis required for these subjects,” says Nel.
The MEng Radar and Electronic Defence degree includes three specialised modules, namely Multitarget Multisensor Tracking, Clutter and Detection in Clutter and High Resolution and Imaging Radar.
“The CSIR intends to expand the specialised programmes next year to include, besides others, a Radar Applications in Space Sensors module,” he concludes.