College of Science, Engineering & Technology

#YouthMonth: Make a difference

Among the researchers at Unisa’s Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability (NanoWS) research unit, in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), are lively and passion-driven youthful researchers. The institute is, on an acting basis, directed by a youthful researcher of note, Prof Thabo Nkambule. These sharp early-career researchers continue to inspire young people and make a difference, especially in the fields of science, engineering and technology.

How can we forget the month that changed South Africa’s socio-political landscape - 16 June 1976, the Soweto uprising that spread throughout the country? We commemorate this day in memory of the courageous youth who fought against the Bantu Education Act of 1953, which was imposed upon the education system in South Africa by the apartheid government. Today, we stand in awe and appreciation of the fight of those that came before us, so much so, that the youth of today get to reap the benefits of the struggles and carry the baton forward. We salute you! You fought for the liberation of a black child.

The NanoWS research unit celebrates their young, early-career research academics for their boldness, dedication and courage in tackling world-wide challenges and providing potential solutions towards, among others, energy-efficient water treatment technologies, improved sensing and detection technologies, and the development of new nano-drugs for drug-delivery applications.


These young academics share their views of what Youth Month means to them

Prof Thabo Nkambule (Acting Director: NanoWS)

Youth Month presents an opportunity to define a generational mission to be carried out. As Benjamin Disraeli once said, "almost everything that is good, was done by the youth". It is for this reason that I believe Youth Month gives us an opportunity collectively as a generation to make our own mark as we build from the efforts of those who came before us in order to leave a legacy for those who will come after us.

At NanoWS, we value the contribution of the youth towards our efforts to advance novel innovative solutions to tackle water quality and water scarcity issues for the betterment of the communities we serve.

Nozipho Gumbi (Junior Lecturer, working on new generation polymeric membranes research for water remediation)

Youth Month to me, is a reminder to remain courageous with the contributions that I make through my research, in providing alternative solutions in a way that water is treated, and in continuing to advocate for science to reach wider audiences by crossing boundaries beyond the science community.

Dr Ntuthuko Hlongwa (Lecturer, working on electrochemical sensors for wastewater detection and energy storage materials research)


It means to be free to express my thoughts, choices, and opinions, which is the same reason I chose research to help resolve problems facing the world, and that includes water and energy. Youth Month to me means having the power and freedom to make a difference.

Dr Usisipho Feleni (Senior Lecturer, working on reactors/sensors for emerging persistent pharmaceutical contaminants)


Youth Month is a reminder to continue making contributions to solving problems associated with water management in South Africa.

Dr Unathi Sidwaba (Lecturer, working on polymer nanocomposite-based electrochemical methods for water quality monitoring and decontamination)


Youth Month is the time for South African youth to embrace the efforts and struggles of those we commemorate. We can only show this by our involvement and dedication to bringing solutions to current threats and challenges in all fields.

Dr Adolph Muleja (Senior Lecturer, working on reaction engineering for water, energy and environmental sustainability)


To me, the month symbolises the utmost sacrifice that the June 16 youth made to better the lives of all for this country and the world. As such, young researchers should continue to be the driving force of change in breaking barriers and creating fresh processes to sustain the current diminishing water and energy resources while striving to preserve dearly the environment for the future generation.

Dr Machawe Motsa (Senior Lecturer, working on membrane-based processes for surface water treatment and wastewater re-use)


Youth Month, to me, highlights the role of youth in society, but, most importantly, it is a reminder of the wealth of talents that are within young people. It serves as a motivation for me to contribute to the emergence of a new crop of scientists who are critical thinkers, innovators, and problem-solvers tasked with providing solutions to societal needs.

We can surely look forward to a better world and a bright future with a team of young, dynamic and active researchers such as these.

Unisa salutes them!

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement & Nozipho Gumbi, Junior Lecturer, NanoWS

Publish date: 2020/06/23