SA scientists jet off to Tunisia’s science festival

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 21 Jun 2022
Young South African scientists Kutlwano Tshatiwa and Ethan de Wet.
Young South African scientists Kutlwano Tshatiwa and Ethan de Wet.

Two young South African scientists have been selected to compete at the International Festival of Engineering Science and Technology in Tunisia, to showcase their ground-breaking research projects, which focus on healthcare and the physics of sound.

The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists selected Kutlwano Tshatiwa, a 17-year-old matric learner at Gabonewe High School in the North West province’s Bojanala region, and Ethan de Wet, an 18-year-old matric learner at Curro Durbanville High School in the Western Cape’s Stellenbosch region, to represent SA.

The nine-day festival is organised by the Tunisian Association for the Future of Science and Technology, and is open to all students and supervisors aged 14 to 24.

The festival is divided into two main parts – the first is the International Science and Technology Camp, where all participants get the chance to get rid of boredom, have fun and create projects.

The second is the International Science and Technology Engineering Fair, which is a scientific competition focused on areas that improve and develop young scientists' skills and seek to resolve an existing problem.

Tshatiwa was selected to participate in the festival because of his vast knowledge and experience in machine learning, according to the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.

The young scientist used millions of images to test two methods of model training; ie, a custom model and a knowledge distillation model in pneumonia and skin cancer diagnosis. Using machine learning, he found that knowledge distillation techniques outperformed the custom model in terms of accuracy.

De Wet’s project was selected for international participation because the innovation is an example of how an industry dependent on natural resources can become eco-friendly.

Using 3D printing technology with bio-degradable polylactic acid, De Wet designed and constructed eco-friendly sound speaker enclosures that could replace standard wooden ones.Speaker enclosures aim to protect the drivers andguide the sound.

The significance of his study is to ensure the speaker enclosure is eco-friendly, cost-effective and gives consumers greater flexibility to 3D-print such enclosures themselves, using his designs.

“Eskom is proud to be the funder of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, a platform which continues to enable learners not only to develop themselves but to also make a positive contribution to the country through scientific knowledge,” says Eskom Development Foundation CEO Cecil Ramonotsi.

“Eskom is one of the organisations that contribute to the pipeline for research, development and innovation in science and technical skills, which is needed for the bright future our country.”

Registration to take part in the 2022 Eskom Expo is now open.

South African learners in grades four to 12, along with learners from Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges that are in NC2 to NC4, are invited to register and upload their own research projects. For more info, visit the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists website.