There have been massive excavations and bulk earthworks near the Aula and behind the Musaion theatre since the beginning of May this year. The R420-million Engineering and Parkade Project is a project currently being undertaken by the University of Pretoria in liaison with the government.

The major aim behind this development is to address the severe shortage of engineers that our country faces and to increase the number of engineering graduates. This is in response to the Department of Education’s request for tertiary education institutions to increase the throughput of engineers. According to the project manager, Prof. Schalk Classen, the government has put in a hand for this project by contributing R170-million for its development.

The University of Pretoria has proven its dedication in homing the skills of South African students and academics and is well known for the quality of its research. By embarking on this project, it is reaffiriming its status as one of the country’s leading educational institutions.

“It was an open invitation to all universities in the country but as far as I know, UP had the best response,” says Prof Classen.

A major facility expansion will also be integrated in this new development entailing the construction of a new parking garage to reduce the congestion at the main entrance as well as new lecture halls for the School of Engineering. Handicapped individuals will also benefit from this new development.

“This new development will also give enhanced access to the Musaion and Aula, especially to people in wheel chairs or whose movement is otherwise impaired,” adds Prof. Classen.

Amidst all the extensive earthworks, archaeological discoveries of the remains from the university old arch building and a landfill dating from 1920-30 have been made. Chemistry apparatus and various other items over 80 years old have also been uncovered.

The project is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2011 and, according to Prof. Classen, everything is well on track with the construction phase.