Denel praises youthful innovation


State-owned defence conglomerate Denel has praised young innovators at the company for doing pioneering research and producing technology that contributes to the creation of new industries in South Africa.

Speaking in Parliament the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Bulelani Magwanishe, highlighted recent breakthroughs in engineering and technology achieved by young employees of Denel, one of the top-100 defence manufacturers in the world.
“Young people at Denel are giving the country hope through innovation,” Magwanishe said, “and it is particularly significant that this is taking place in the year in which South Africa commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.”

Denel has invested more than R467-million in research and development over the past year and expanded its partnerships with research organisations, the academic community and companies in the defence and manufacturing sectors, the company said in a statement yesterday.

One of the future-oriented projects referred to by Magwanishe is the design and development of a new Small African Regional Aircraft (SARA) to serve regional destinations that are not accessible for existing passenger aircraft. This is a joint research project with post-graduate students at local universities and is being led by three young female engineers from Denel — Preshni Govender, Puseletso Matlala and Naadira Hassim.

In addition, two young software engineers at Denel Aviation, Lindokuhle Mpanza and Anish Punnen, have developed a computerised mission planning system for the pilots and crew of Oryx helicopters. This system enables the crew to plan their missions in advance, share information across locations and facilitate a comprehensive evaluation at completion.

At Mechem, another Denel affiliate, electronic technicians Selaelo Mojela and Isak Sokuwe have designed an innovative robot that detects landmines and minimises the risks on lives. The robot scans for landmines and the information is picked up by an on-board camera and sent back through a wireless system.

Magwanishe also singled out the achievements of five interns at Denel Dynamics who developed a tactical observation ball that can be used by soldiers to conduct surveillance operations without placing any lives in danger.

He also congratulated Denel for its investment in education and training by providing bursaries and experiential learning for engineering students at four Gauteng colleges.