Mar 2022 2nd edition

Johannesburg builds a new generation of engineers

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Pupils from Johan­nesburg schools are being given the chance to enter the excit­ing world of engineering through the Next Engi­neers programme.

The initiative is being led by the General Electric (GE) in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education, human development organisa­tion FHI360 and Pr otec, a non-profit organisation involved in science, tech­nology, engineering, and maths education.

The programme was laun­ched recently and the first batch of pupils who will participate in the program­me have been already been identified.

Kwa-Mahlobo Secondary School pupil Omphile Chemvo (18), one of the 550 pupils participating in after-school engineering classes, said the programme will help introduce him to the basic principles of enginee­ring. He intends studying aerospace engineering after matric.

GE Southern Africa CEO Nyimpini Mabunda said the programme raises awareness of engineering careers from as early as age 13 (Grade Eight), ignites interest throughout high school (ages 14 to 18), and alleviates financial barriers to higher education through financial support.

Senior Technician Officer Dylan Busa showing pupils some of the engineering materials they will be learning about.

He said about 1 100 stu­dents applied to be among the first to participate in the programme’s three pillars – Engineering Discovery, Engineering Camp and the Engineering Academy.

“As we slowly start recovering from the Coro­navirus Disease pandemic, it is evident that we require more diverse solutions that will contribute to the growth of the economy.”

Mabunda said through GE’s Next Engineers pro­gramme, future engineers and changemakers are being exposed in solving challenges.

“We are playing our part in increasing the repre­sentation of females in the engineering sector,” he said.

Engineers provide critical skills

Gauteng MEC for Educa­tion Panyaza Lesufi said that over the next five years, more than 3 500 students between the ages of 13 and 18 will get hands-on exposure to engineering concepts and careers. Ulti­mately, they may be given financial help to obtain engineering degrees.

“The engineering sector has a critical role to play in ensuring that Gauteng achieves its goals as arti­culated in the Growing Gauteng Together Vision 2030,” said MEC Lesufi.

The GE Foundation has invested $2.5 million (over R38 million) in the Johan­nesburg programme.

This will cover the costs of Protec, which is tasked with implementing and growing the programme; providing financial support for up to 150 Engineering Academy participants; and funding for tuition for 800 youth to attend the Engineering Camp.

Engineering classes are expected to start in March and first camp is scheduled for the June school holidays.

For more information about the programme, go to www.nexten­

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