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UJ to host the opening of Africa Engineering Week

​​Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, to open 2014 Africa Engineering Week at UJ

The Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, will address engineering experts from South Africa and abroad at the opening of Africa Engineering Week at the Doornfontein Campus of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Monday, 01 September 2014. Minister Pandor will to deliver a 20-minute address in UJ’s newly refurbished Perskor Building at 09:30. ​​

​Africa Engineering Week, from 1 to 5 September, 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). The week, themed Engineering is a life changer!, is aimed at highlighting the important role engineers’ plays in everyday life and to encourage youth to participate in science, mathematics, engineering and technology related studies and careers. Africa Engineering Week is also intended to expose the public and educators to engineering-based careers.

Engineering interactions, UJ Doornfontein Campus

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 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 are 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.

Sought-after skills

“Engineering is one of the most sought-after skills in the world, and it is necessary to feed new talent into the profession continually if South Africa is to meet its people’s basic needs and improve their quality of life. 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,” says Mr Johan de Koker of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, UJ.

Speaking ahead of the Africa Engineering Week, Minister Pandor said: “As the Department of Science and Technology, 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.”

According to Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, the role of engineering 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 the 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.”

Great opportunities

Ms Bokova pointed out that although many African countries were still experiencing economic crisis, the challenge presented great opportunities for engineers on the continent. “World leaders now recognise the importance of funding engineering, science and technology. They understand that investments in infrastructure, technology for climate change mitigation and the adaptation in areas such as renewable energy may provide a path to economic recovery and sustainability,” says Ms Bokova.

President of ECSA, Mr Cyril Gamede, agrees that the profession needed more young blood to bring new innovative thinking to dealing with the challenges of the future. “We need the youth to transcend our expectations and elevate the profession to new heights by applying modern technologies and systems to the resolution of the challenges our grandchildren will face one day. We intend to impact and influence the profession with topical discussions that look at global best practice, and hope to inspire the youth to pursue a rewarding career in engineering,” says Gamede.

Among UJ’s Africa Engineering Week highlights:

On Monday, 01 September at 09:30Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor opens Africa Engineering Week.

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.​


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