UJ’s computer science and software engineering academy turns 50

Professor Basie von Solms, co-founder of the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Professor Basie von Solms, co-founder of the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering.

One of SA’s first independent computer science schools, the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering (ACSSE) in the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), is celebrating 50 years.

Co-founded in 1970 by professors Sebastiaan “Basie” von Solms and Andries van der Walt, ACSSE has since attained global status for its programmes.

Van der Walt and Von Solms were the first two staff members of the academy and the latter was head of computer science for 27 years.

The academy has a strong international research record, and is currently concentrating on areas related to the fourth industrial revolution.

ACSSE is also now heavily involved in research, focusing on cyber security, cyber counter-intelligence, artificial intelligence, intelligent software agents, Web services and biometric applications.

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 four 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 four-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,” he says.

“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.

“The ACSSE in the 1980s realised the importance of information security, and 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.”

Additionally, he says, a few years ago, the Centre for Cyber Security was established and has since offered a number of short learning programmes in cyber-related fields, including 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 the years to come,” says Von Solms.

On degree level, the full time four-year accredited programme for the BSc (IT Honours) degree is the flagship programme, but the ACSSE also caters for people working full-time in industry and government, who cannot attend full-time classes.

“The higher certificate programme in information technology is a two-year part-time official programme giving students from industry and government a sound knowledge in IT. This programme has been successfully running for several years.”

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