The first technological revolution, in the fourth millennium BC, was followed
by immense social progress. The second revolution, which is now taking
place, could lead to an even greater development in the human sciences, by
setting men free from their daily struggle for existence while simultaneously
exacting high social standards. Natural law - the "marriage between the
ways of heaven and the ways of earth" of the Chinese - represents a route to
such progress. In natural science and technology, natural law demands that
conclusions be based on observation rather than speculation. The social
sciences would do well to follow this example.
The activities of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University
of Pretoria are discussed in the light of the above.
The Department participates in the work of the Laboratory for Advanced Engineering,
which was founded by the Department of Electronics Engineering.
Leading engineers are drawn to the University by encouraging development
work for industry, thus creating a stimulating environment and relevant training
programmes while generating funds for subvention of salaries to realistic
This approach has proved very fruitful and is supported by industry and state
corporations, who have contributed close to R2 million to the Department in
the past few years.
The establishment of technology centres at universities is at present being
hampered by direct competition with those instances who should be encouraging
their development. A free-enterprise approach to research and development
in the R.S.A. may be far healthier than the approach now followed.
All efforts to improve research and development as well as education should,
however, be supported, provided they are in accord with natural law.