Much of the technology we take for granted today stems from 50 years ago.
This academic year, the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering (ACSSE) in the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), is celebrating its 50th birthday. Co-founded in 1970 by Professor Sebastiaan “Basie” von Solms, it was one of the first independent computer science programs in the nation.
“During these 50 years, the ACSSE has grown into an established knowledge Centre for all aspects of Information Technology, and has kept track with the developments in the IT field, said Prof von Solms, UJ Director of the Centre for Cyber Security. “The ACSSE has already in the 1980s realised the importance of Information Security, and had played a significant role to develop knowledge capacity specifically in this area, and is still today seen as one of the leading departments in SA as far as Information and Cyber Security is concerned.”
Prof von Solms says the department has made significant progress in population, infrastructure and access to technology in the last half-century. Presently the academy has 4 sub departments – Computer Science, Informatics, Information Security and the Centre for Cyber Security.
“Our degree courses have been structured on international standards and benchmarks. Therefore, in 2003, the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree of the ACCSE was accredited by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in the UK. At that stage the ACCSE was the first University in Africa achieving such accreditation, and even today is one of only two such Universities in Africa. Other Universities enjoying such accreditation include the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge,” says Prof von Solms.
The Centre for Cyber Security has, since its establishment a few years ago, offered a number of Short Learning Programs (SLPs) in cyber-related fields. There are SLPs in Introduction to Cyber Security, Introduction to Digital Forensics and Introduction to Cyber Security Awareness.
“We are proud to have played a significant role over the past 50 years to provide SA with the required skills and knowledge in the field of IT, and will keep doing this in years to come,” concludes Prof von Solms.
On degree level, the full time 4-year accredited program for the BSc (IT Honours) degree is the flagship program, but the ACSSE also caters widely for people working full time in industry and Government, and cannot attend full time classes. The Higher Certificate program in Information Technology is a 2-year part time official program giving students from industry and Government a sound knowledge in IT. This program has been successfully running for several years.
The ACCSE also has a strong international research record, and is concentrating on research in areas related to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Post graduate supervision and research in the areas of Cyber Security, Cyber Counterintelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Software Agents, Web services, Biometric applications and more are actively pursued.
Prof Basie von Solms respectively marks 50 years as a staff member of the ACCSE. He was appointed on 1 October 1970, the same year as the Academy was established, and had been permanently involved since then – first at the Rand Afrikaans University, and later at the University of Johannesburg. The first Head of the Academy was prof Andries van der Walt who was a Professor in Mathematics. Van der Walt and von Solms were the first two staff members. Prof von Solms was Head of Computer Science for 27 years.