CSIR spearheads new Master’s degree in radar and electronic defence


The CSIR, in conjunction with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and several international partners, launched South Africa’s first Master of Engineering (MEng) degree in Radar and Electronic Defence in February.

The programme at UCT will be taught by expert lecturers from several universities around the world. These include: Professors Fulvio Gini and Marco Martorella of the University of Pisa, Italy; and Robert Tough of software development house Igence, based in the UK. Other lecturers include Professor Michael Inggs of UCT, and Professor Keith Palmer of the University of Stellenbosch.

The programme’s first student intake comprises six full-time students and 14 part-time students – including four international students. “The aim is to obtain international standing for the degree and encourage foreign students to study here by enlisting international lecturers to teach this programme,” says CSIR Defence, Peace, Safety and Security principal researcher for radar and electronic warfare (REW), Leon Staphorst.

The course was developed by CSIR DPSS principal researcher for radar and electronic competence Willie Nel, together with Staphorst and Professor Michael Inggs at UCT. “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,” Nel says.

“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 as there is no solid training in radar engineering or electronic defence in South Africa.

The course will begin with an introduction to radar and then cover radar and signal data processing; electronic defence; antenna theory; radar and electronic defence maths; target tracking; clutter and detection in clutter; and high resolution and imaging radar. Next year the CSIR intends to expand the programme to include, amongst other things, a module on radar applications in space sensors.