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Now accepting applications for TechWomen 2018

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 5 December 2017 13:47

TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State that brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program based in San Francisco. During the five-week program, participants engage in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

The 2018 program will include 100 women from Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.

Applications are due January 17, 2018. We are looking for women who have demonstrated themselves as emerging leaders in their chosen profession, through their work experience, volunteer experience, community activities and education. A full list of the eligibility requirements is available on our website.

You can also check out our Outreach Toolkit with flyers in multiple languages, as well as suggested tweets and social media posts.

Now entering its eighth year, TechWomen continues to be a transformational program for all involved and has inspired women to become active change makers in their communities. We thank you for your support, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Best Regards,

Stacey Chapple

Outreach and Recruitment Specialist

Institute of International Education

530 Bush Street, Suite 1000 • San Francisco, CA 94108

Tel +1.415.362.6520 ext.273

schapple@iie.org • iie.org 

IIE • The Power of International Education

 

Media Release: Evidence for climate change   #Evidence4ClimateChange

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Thursday, 30 November 2017 13:44

Show me the evidence for climate change

Communicating science in a post-truth world

28 December 2017

 

Living in the age of ‘post-truth’ means emotional appeals are more influential than objective facts. Post-truth discourse has become so normalised that Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ to be 2016’s international word of the year.

 

 

No doubt it’s positive to embrace different viewpoints. This allows us to engage is an inclusive manner and build common understanding. However, it creates a complex tension when communicating about science. Especially when the terminology of science, engineering, and technology (SET) is not necessarily understood by the public.

How does one show evidence-based facts in a post-truth, fake news, multiple perspective world? If the public is to learn from scientists, the SET community needs to speak more plainly and clearly. 
 
This comes to the fore with climate change. Making the science clear is an ongoing process and those involved continue to learn and drive the messages around climate change. The SET community can learn from the outcomes.

 

The NSTF provides neutral collaborative platforms where issues and sectors meet

·         One of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) functions is to hold discussion forums, bringing the private and public sector together to make connections.

·         Feedback from these discussion forums is given to stakeholders, including government.

 

 

Prof Robert Scholes explained how the current evidence is positioned in his presentation on ‘Show us the evidence for climate change’ at the NSTF Discussion Forum on 17 November 2017 in Gauteng.
 

Present agreed-upon facts – understanding climate

There is consensus among scientists around general climate dynamics. The climate is a complex system with feedbacks, non-linearity, and inertia.

It has behaviours and variations internal to the system, occurring across different periods of time from days to eons. There are also external forces that are natural in origin (such as small predictable variations in the earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun).
 

 

About Prof Robert Scholes

Prof Scholes is one of the top 1% of environmental scientists globally and recognised as a leading researcher within environmental science, systems ecology, savannah ecology, and global change. He is also one of South Africa’s few National Research Foundation A-rated scientists. In 2015, Prof Scholes received an NSTF-South32 award for his contribution to science over a lifetime.

 

 

Collecting and processing climate data

The ‘rigorous’ records of climate go back to the beginning of the 20th century. This represents tens of thousands of weather stations’ data for land, with equivalent data for oceans (from ship logs).
 
Analysis of this vast data set needs to account for various potential biases, such as uneven spatial representation and changes in instruments. In plain speak, there were cases of lots of data from some areas and less data from other areas. This could create misrepresentation in the outcomes unless robust well-tested methods are used to fill the gaps. Scholes explains that analysis has not been about “taking an average” of all the data over time.
 

Analysis of the data – presenting ‘warming planet’ outcome 

The data analysis showed that warming has been observed nearly everywhere over the 20th century. Rainfall trends are weaker and less consistent because rainfall is inherently a more local phenomenon. (See the Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC.)
 

Managing criticism – showing data is robust

The interpretation of the data set came in for a lot of criticism by sceptics in the SET community and vested interest groups, particularly in the USA. Most of the debate was around the processes applied to make the raw data comparable. Had these processes been manipulated to gain a specific result?
 
The critics took the same data and then used different scientific methodologies. Their results were qualitatively the same as the original outcomes, with little varying detail: the world has warmed, virtually everywhere, at an accelerating rate over the period of record. In other words, the conclusions are robust, independent of method. (For further info, see the Hockey Stick Controversy.)
 

Acknowledging uncertainties vs providing facts

Good scientists are careful people. They check and recheck their results, and then let other people check their results. Scientists are obligated to follow rules of evidence, including acknowledging uncertainties. This is often confusing for the layperson as it means a lot of the information comes with ‘ifs and buts’.
 
The IPCC has focused on how to communicate uncertainty in a clear way, using words which are reserved for that purpose only. Scholes says that the IPCC guidelines note that phrases such as ‘with high certainty’ have an exact defined meaning, and accompany all high-level statements.  
 
The public, unused to the concept of scientific uncertainty, can interpret this as the scientists being less confident than they actually are. Or less sure than lay people who never qualify their statements with confidence terms.  Scientists must learn how to deal with this while communicating clearly and accurately. Is it the SET community’s responsibility to explain the scientific process of acknowledging uncertainty? Or does the public need to make more effort to understand the concept?
 

Detection, attribution, and impact – differentiating natural from human causes

Consider that we have a time series of climate observations. The first stage is change detection – is something unusual happening? Has there been a statistically significant change in the system?
 
The next stage is attribution – do we have reasonable statistical confidence that we know why this change has occurred (80-100% certainty)?  Is it accounted for by natural variation, or is there a human-attributable effect as well? Attribution is a more challenging and complex problem because there are usually many causes to any observed effect.
 
Scientists have been able to exclude known causes of climate variation (such as solar and orbital variation, and volcanoes). There is also positive correlation between climate trends with suggested human-induced causes, specifically greenhouse gas concentrations, a necessary but not sufficient condition for establishing the cause.
 
More than 30 groups worldwide have run global climate simulations, providing a reconstruction of what has been observed and an explanation of what has happened. Scholes says they were able to apportion cause to various sources, including anthropogenic (caused by humans) versus natural, and the natural variation only accounts for a small fraction of the total. While there is debate around details, the human influence on climate has been proven.
 
The focus is now on the impact of climate change and what can be done about it. Climate change-related impacts have been detected worldwide in almost every area, from biodiversity and food security to water resources. Attribution specifically to human-caused climate change is work in progress in many cases.
 
A common question is around whether an extreme weather event (like a tornado or tropical storm) can be attributed to climate change. Because climate is the statistical average of weather, Scholes says it’s hard to say any singular event is due to climate change. It needs a sequence of such events to be confidently classed as change. Since extreme events are – by definition – rare, this needs a long record – hundreds of years – to say with high confidence. Currently we don’t have long enough records to make this claim.
 

Is a source trustworthy?

How can the public assess the validity of claims when they receive conflicting information? Scholes sees scientists as brokers in this process. He says it’s about showing people how to separate the legitimate from the misguided, mischievous, and malicious.
 

Following are Scholes’ guiding questions:

·         Does the source of information have qualifications and a track record in the specific field they are commenting on? Several denialists have apparently high credentials or have positions of note but, if you look at their area of research, it isn’t within the debate domain.

·         Do they offer verifiable evidence, or just assertions? Do they publish in peer-reviewed journals? You need to find out if the data is in the public domain and in peer-reviewed journals. Self-references, websites, newspaper articles, and untraceable references are not considered verifiable evidence.

·         Do they repeat long-disproven claims and conspiracy theories? Climate denialists tend to stick to their message regardless of the strength of evidence refuting it.

 
Scholes explained that there is now a move to use ‘deep transdisciplinary’ approaches in order to turn climate concern into action. This sees scientists working with people who have a different epistemology (theory of knowledge or world view). Examples include representatives from various faiths and people involved in indigenous knowledge systems.
 
The idea is that if you want to affect behavioural change, you need to work within the conceptual framework used by the target community. It also recognises that human decisions rest not only on evidence, but also on beliefs and feelings.
 

Taking time and effort to sift through information?

Global warming exists and it’s largely caused by human activities. While these fundamentals have been agreed upon, there is still strong debate among scientists around the details of climate change.
 
There is also lots of ongoing research but this isn’t getting through – across the range of stakeholders including business, civil society, and the public. With the advent of fake news and post-truth, among other things, there is a clear need for people to apply analytical rigour when assessing information. This takes effort and education… so will it actually happen?
 
An option is to look to reputable entities that already do this sifting work. The IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988. It provides a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts, as evaluated by thousands of specialist scientists drawn from all over the world, and subject to careful and transparent review processes. You can’t ask for much more.

 

 

Speakers that addressed the forum can be contacted through the spokesperson, Ms Jansie Niehaus.

Video clips with the full presentations and discussion can be found on the NSTF web site (www.nstf.org.za). Please send information and comments to enquiries@nstf.co.za.

 

 

About the NSTF

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), established in 1995, is a broadly-representative stakeholder body for all SET and innovation organisations in South Africa, which seeks to influence policy formulation and delivery.

The NSTF Awards are unique in SA, recognising the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups to SET and innovation.

The science bursaries page http://www.nstf.org.za/bursary/ provides information on bursaries and bursary providers for science, engineering and related studies.

 

For more information

www.nstf.org.za
E-mail: enquiries@nstf.co.za
Tel: +27 12 841 3987
Fax: 27 12 841 3025

Non Profit Company Registration Number: 2007/029165/08
NPO Registration Number: 92042
Donor tax exemption for all donations to the NSTF

 

Call for nominations now open: NSTF-South32 Awards 2017/2018

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 7 November 2017 11:14

 

 

Call for nominations now open: NSTF-South32 Awards 2017/2018 

Register nominations online - deadline 11 December 2017

 

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) calls for nominations for the 20th prestigious NSTF-South32 Awards in science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation. The NSTF’s theme for 2018 is the International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024) as declared by the United Nations (UN).

 

 

Register nominations for individuals, teams and organisations for an outstanding contribution to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation in South Africa. The contributions that are recognised are:

  • Scientific research
  • Capacity building in engineering research
  • Innovation
  • Environmental sustainability and biodiversity
  • Water management solutions
  • Management of SET and innovation
  • Science Communication
  • Technology transfer
  • Education and training
  • Special Annual Theme Award for contributions that promote Sustainable Energy for All
 

 

 

There are major changes to the categories and criteria this year. See below:

Innovation awards: The Innovation Category has greater emphasis on ‘innovation’. The Research for Innovation Awards is now the ‘Awards for Innovations and their research and/or development’.
 
Research categories – no PhD required: All research categories are now open to anyone experienced in research. We have also strengthened the focus on further development of outputs towards innovations. 
 
Suggestions for candidates: An open call to the public for nominations remains the primary process for nominations. However, if someone wants to suggest a person who should be nominated, please email suggestions to enquiries@nstf.co.za by 11 December 2017, with a brief explanation and their details. In this case, please don’t fill in the registration form.
 
Special Annual Theme Award: The NSTF’s special annual theme award this year is for a contribution to SET and innovation towards Sustainable Energy for All. This aligns to the International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024) declared by the United Nations.  

 

 

A transformed country where SET and innovation contribute to a high quality of life for all who live in South Africa, where the profile of SET professionals is representative of the population’s profile and where the education system is effective, particularly in terms of performance in SET subjects and promoting innovation.

The NSTF Awards are one of the ways in which the NSTF strives to realise its vision.

 

 

This is a two-stage nomination process:
 

Stage 1 – Register a nomination by 11 December 2017

  • Notify the nominee that you intend to nominate and ensure that you receive their agreement to participate.
  • Complete and submit the online registration. You will receive an e-mail notification confirming receipt of your submission and the full nomination form/s as an attachment to complete. Please alert the NSTF Office if you don’t receive this.

 

Stage 2 – Submit completed nomination documents by 2 March 2018

  • Ensure that the completed full Nomination Form/s are e-mailed to the NSTF before the final deadline.
  • Please note that planning and time are required to complete the nomination document. Hence the 12 week period (December to March) provided for preparation.
 

 

Please read ‘contribution’ to mean ‘an outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology (SET) and innovation’.
 

 1. Awards for individual contributions

 1a. A contribution over a lifetime (15 years or more).

 1b. TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher
 A contribution to research and its outputs over a period of up to 15 years as a researcher,
 predominantly in South Africa.

 1c. TW Kambule-NSTF Awards: Emerging Researcher
 A contribution to research and its outputs over a period of up to 6 years in research,
 predominantly in South Africa.

 1d. Management Award
 A contribution through management and related SET and innovation activities over the last
 5-10 years.

 2. Engineering Research Capacity Development Awards
 A contribution by an individual over the last 5-10 years.

 3. The NSTF-GreenMatter Award
 A contribution by an individual or an organisation towards achieving biodiversity
 conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy over the last 5-10 years.

 4. NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award
 A contribution by an individual or an organisation to SET in South Africa towards
 sustainable water management, knowledge generation and solutions over the last 5-10
 years.

 5. Data for Research Award
 An outstanding contribution to SET and innovation, for advancing the availability,
 management and use of data for research.

 6. Innovation Awards

 6a. Award for Innovations and their research and/or development through a
 corporate organisation

 A contribution by an individual or a team through a corporate organisation over the last 5-10
 years.

 6b. Award for Innovations and their research and/or development through an SMME
 A contribution by an individual or a team through a small, medium or micro enterprise
 (SMME) over the last 5-10 years.

 7. Communication for outreach and creating awareness of SET and Innovation
 A contribution by a team or individual over the last 5 years.

 8. Award for a Non-governmental organisation
 A contribution to SET by an NGO including innovation, technology transfer and education
 and training activities over the last 5-10 years.

 9. Special Annual Theme Award (awarded according to criteria in any of the categories)
 For 2017/2018 this award is made for a contribution towards Sustainable Energy for All in
 recognition of the International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, as declared by the
 UN.

 

 

   

About the NSTF

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), established in 1995, is a broadly-representative stakeholder body for all SET and innovation organisations in South Africa, which seeks to influence policy formulation and delivery.
The NSTF-South32  Awards are unique in SA, recognising the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups to SET and innovation.
The science bursaries page provides information on bursaries and bursary providers for science, engineering and related studies.

 

Disclaimer

The NSTF has taken all practical measures to ensure that the material contained in this newsletter is correct. The NSTF reserves the right to make changes as it deems necessary.
 

Privacy

Registration details submitted to the NSTF will be treated confidentially and will only be used by NSTF to communicate with its members and subscribers.

 

For more information

www.nstf.org.za
E-mail: enquiries@nstf.co.za
Tel: 27 12 841 3987
Fax: 27 12 841 3025
Non Profit Company Registration Number: 2007/029165/08
NPO Registration Number: 92042
Donor tax exemption for all donations to the NSTF

 

NSTF Media Release: Investigating SET's role in the SDGs

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 16:33

  

Investigating SET’s role in the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all by 2030. Research and innovation have a role to play, but where, when and how?

 

First the United Nations organised the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Then came the SDGs, endorsed by South Africa in 2014.

 

 

The SDGs can be grouped into five categories, showing alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063

·         People (social development)

·         Prosperity (economic development)

·         Planet (environmental sustainability)

·         Peace (peaceful and inclusive societies)

·         Partnerships (means of implementation)


The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) brought stakeholders together for a ‘Research and innovation to support the SDGs’ Discussion Forum. This was held from 4-5 September 2017 in Gauteng. South Africa will be reporting on SDG progress in 2019 and it’s imperative that the science, engineering and technology (SET) community understands its role.  

 

The NSTF provides neutral collaborative platforms where issues and sectors meet

One of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) functions is to hold discussion forums, bringing the private and public sector together to make connections. 

Feedback from these discussion forums is given to stakeholders, including government.

This event was conceptualised and planned by the NSTF committee of  Science Councils and Statutory Bodies representatives

 

 


SA baseline measurements: Compared to the MDGs, the SDGs have more goals (from 8 to 17), more indicators/measurements (from 60 to 230), and more targets (from 20 to 169). In his presentation, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla noted that the South African SDG baseline report will be available on Statistics South Africa website on 9 October 2017.
 

 

 

Coordinating role of the Department of Science and Technology (DST): The DST’s Dr Isayvani Naicker says that the DST has a role to play across all the SDGs, particularly around enabling partnerships. This falls in line with the DST mission to develop, coordinate and manage a National System of Innovation. Coordination becomes crucial – What are people doing? Where is the duplication? How can resources be mobilised into the most-needed areas?

SET is seen as enablers for the SDGs: The Presidency is charged with collating and reporting. To reach that point, there is a need for monitoring and evaluation across government departments, business, civil society etc. SET is recognised as an enabler in the successful implementation of the SDGs, and will also help in monitoring and evaluation.

 

Framework around the science agenda
Of particular note is the presentation by Water Research Commission’s CEO Dhesigen Naidoo.

The WRC has taken core SDGs and reconceptualised them into a framework around the science agenda with the aim of creating an inter-related knowledge agenda.
 
Another key point is that not all projects will necessarily fit into the SDGs, nor should the goals be regarded as the ultimate aim – if we want SA to thrive, the SDGs must be exceeded.

Mr Lorenzo Raynard from SKA SA explained that it’s important to evaluate projects against the SDGs but it’s not about ticking boxes. There should be meaningful alignment.

 

 

A Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) has been created. This is a platform for innovators, funders and experts to connect and share relevant information. This includes connecting with complementary initiatives both online and off.  It’s about linking global resources, ease of access, reduced duplication and rapidly deploying the most successful innovations.

Aligned with this, is the South African Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub. It’s in the process of being developed and aims to connect development actors with research and innovations around the SDGs and other African development goals.
 
Moving from the MDGs to the SDGs: According to the UNDP’s Lindiwe Dhlamini in ‘Integrating agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into regional and national development plans and strategies’, there are 3 fundamental differences between the MDGs and the SDGs:

·         The SDGs “include all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental”.

·         “The SDGs are complex and integrated, with the integrated approach implying the need to manage trade-offs and maximise synergies across targets.”

·         “The SDGs should benefit all – eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities. The promotion and use of disaggregated data cannot be emphasised  enough.”

There is a need “to go beyond silos and take an integrated approach to development interventions”. Dhlamini notes that the MDG question focused on which goals lagged and the gaps. The SDGs question is: “What are the actions that will take us forward more quickly across a broader range of interlinked goals?”
 
The importance of partnerships for the goals (SDG 17): The CSIR’s Dr Lorren Haywood explained that SDG 17 is critical for achieving the other SDGs. However, it is often ranked as the lowest priority. She is part of a team conducting research around collaboration. The ultimate aim is to devise a trans-disciplinary evidence-based approach for establishing and implementing partnership relationships.
 
The CSIR’s research to date shows five key clusters of actors needed to achieve the SDGs – United Nations (governance and support from an international perspective), government (enabling and monitoring environment), business (implementation), research and development (knowledge, technologies and innovation), and civil society (advocacy and awareness).
 
Currently there is a lack of partnerships and cooperation between clusters. This is specifically within government (ie between national, provincial and local levels), and between government, the private sector and civil society.
 
Communication, coordination, collaboration and funding are imperative. It’s clear that there needs to be a lot more communication around the SDGs, aligned funding mechanisms, and coordinating activities (from explanations on monitoring and evaluation to reporting frameworks). There also needs to be a great deal more collaboration around common goals. A centralised facilitation agency was proposed.
 
The research institutions play a crucial role in achieving the SDGs and NDP. The state’s budget allocation to such institutions should not continually be cut, but rather increased.
 
Video clips with the full presentations and discussion can be found on the NSTF web site. The NSTF will be reporting back on the SET community’s engagement with the SDGs. Please send information to enquiries@nstf.org.za


Spokesperson: Ms Jansie Niehaus (Executive Director: NSTF)

 

Speakers that addressed the forum can be contacted through the spokesperson. 


Tel: +27 (0)12 841-3987/2632/4995
Fax: +27 (0)12 841-3025
E-mail: enquiries@nstf.co.za
Web site: www.nstf.org.za
 

 

About the NSTF

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), established in 1995, is a broadly-representative stakeholder body for all SET and innovation organisations in South Africa, which seeks to influence policy formulation and delivery.

The NSTF Awards are unique in SA, recognising the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups to SET and innovation.

The science bursaries page http://www.nstf.org.za/bursary/ provides information on bursaries and bursary providers for science, engineering and related studies.

 

For more information

www.nstf.org.za
E-mail: enquiries@nstf.co.za
Tel: +27 12 841 3987
Fax: 27 12 841 3025

Non Profit Company Registration Number: 2007/029165/08
NPO Registration Number: 92042
Donor tax exemption for all donations to the NSTF

 

Last updated Tuesday, 3 October 2017 14:33

ECSA NOTICE - CPD SCAM

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 14:25

ECSA warns professional registered persons off a company which is sending false information on Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training courses. The company is copying CPD training courses from other companies’ brochures and attach it to their emails so that it looks legitimate. ECSA also discovered that this company make people pay for CPD courses which do not exist. See attachment for more information.


Attachments:

ECSA NOTICE - CPD SCAM.pdf 269.5K 25 Mar 15 14:25

ECSA New Registration System

Posted by Lynette Pieterse on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:38

The development of the New Registration System is in its final stages. Its development, testing, training of users (personnel, volunteers/assessors) and its internal readiness is scheduled to be completed by 29 August 2014. For more information refer to the attachment. 


Attachments:

NRS Website Announcement.docx 605.2K 26 Aug 14 11:38

Engineering Professionalism and a ten-year plan (Earn CPD credits)

Posted by System Administrator on Sunday, 23 March 2014 23:26

Louis (LSJ) Krüger teaches Engineering Professionalism, a 4th year subject as per ELO10, at the University of Pretoria. 

As part of the course, each student has to compile a personal development plan for a period of at least ten years after graduation, of which three to four years have to be as Candidate Engineer and then the rest as a Professional Engineer.

As each discipline has its specific requirements, it would be more advantageous for a specific discipline to assess the assignments of their discipline. Generic specifications for the assignment and a score sheet will be provided.

Members of SAIIE who would like to participate in the assessment of the assignments and in the process, should please contact Louis at 084 215 3275 or llsjk@lakruger.za.org. These members also earn CPD credits.


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