Eight of the ten deepest mines in the world are located in South Africa. The deepest mine, Mponeng, in Carletonville, is a marvel of engineering. As a country, striving for global competitiveness in the areas of science and technology, we have remarkable track records in transforming, fostering and maintaining engineering in South Africa, but engineers’ role in the economic development of a country often goes unnoticed, according to the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.
peaking at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Minister Pandor highlighted the important role engineers play in everyday life and encouraged youth to participate in science, mathematics, engineering and technology related studies and careers when she addressed hundreds of high school learners, engineering experts from South Africa and abroad at the opening of Africa Engineering Week on Monday, 01 September 2014.
Africa Engineering Week, from 1 to 5 September 2014, is a collaboration between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
“South Africans, especially our youth, need to understand the extent to which engineering, science and technology have benefited the economy. I want to call upon our youth to explore careers in these sectors that will eventually add value to the economy,” said Minister Pandor. “As DST, we are at the forefront of using science to solve the various challenges of our nation. We understand the importance of the engineering profession, and we are confident that we will increase the number of young people, especially women, who intend entering the profession.”
Minister Pandor pointed out that engineering is one of the most sought after skills in the world. “If South Africa is to meet its people’s basic needs and improve their quality of life it is necessary to feed new talent into the profession. Engineers solve problems using mathematics and science, and it is important that they continue to devise practical solutions to the challenges faced by our country and continent,” she said.
“Engineering’s role needs to be far more visible and better understood if more individuals are to choose it as a career. Problems in the developing world need to be highlighted, as do the dangers of not having enough skilled engineers to fill numerous positions. It is estimated that approximately 2,5 million new engineers and technicians will be needed in sub-Saharan Africa alone if this region is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of improved access to clean water and sanitation,” said Minister Pandor.
UJ’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment is participating in Africa Engineering Week and various activities have been planned. These include a conference on sustainable engineering and a four-day career exhibition showcasing the nine different engineering disciplines; a photographic exhibition; learner and teacher workshops; and a women in engineering breakfast workshop. Teachers and high school learners can attend UJ’s activities, which is open to the public at no charge. All the activities are taking place at UJ’s Doornfontein Campus, daily from 08:30 to 16:00.
Among UJ’s Africa Engineering Week highlights:
On Monday, 01 September at 12:45 – Engineering Education will come under the spotlight during Prof Saurabh Sinha’s(Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, UJ and IEEE Vice-President) address onsustainable engineering education.
On Monday, 01 September at 15:15 – Mr Jack van der Merwe (CEO of the Gautrain) will share how engineers can contribute to the future expansion of the Gautrain network.
On Tuesday, 02 September at 08:25 – A half hour talk on the National Development Plan and what the future holds. This session will be presented by Mr Trueman Goba, a member of the National Planning Commission and a registered Professional Engineer.
On Tuesday, 02 September at 08:25 – Dr Martin Van Veelen (President of the Federation of African Engineering Organisations (FAEO)) will shed light on programmes aimed at development in Africa.
On Wednesday, 03 September at 08:30 – a Women in Engineering breakfast and workshop will explore the role of women in engineering disciplines.
On Thursday, 04 September at 08:30 – a workshop with the focus on opportunities for young engineering graduates and professionals.