EWB-UCT boasts another successful trip around the sun. As we bid farewell to 2016, a somewhat historical year nationally, it is important to take a few moments to look back and reflect on the enthusiasm and efforts of our students. The year started out with a bang. O-week was filled with many familiar faces as well as a cohort of fresh energy in the form of eager first years who were all searching for their place to make an impact on the big wide world. Numbers rose quickly to feats well above the record breaking mark of 450. We could have seen it coming from a mile away and yet nothing could have prepared us for the over whelming reality of it all. It all seemed too good to be true but the first meeting of the year did away with any and all doubt when we were able to fill all the seats in one of UCT’s largest lecture venues. One seat filled by the legendary Wiebke Toussaint herself. The meeting allowed all Project Leaders to present their plans for the year and provide an opportunity for the new members to discover where their skills and energy would best be invested for the year.
In the first quarter we hosted ex-UCT students, Paul Mesarik and Francouis Petousis who chatted to our members about their social enterprise, Lumkani, using simple technologies to address the issue of hazardous fires in urban informal settlements. They spoke of the development process from concept to implementation and discussed the challenges that they faced along the way. Furthermore the first quarter also saw the pilot of an EWB-UCT hosted Arduino Day workshop through which members could learn the basics of Aurduino programming and sensing.
Later in the year we joined forces with the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Prof Alison Lewis, to hold a screening of The Shore Break. We were joined by the Co-Producer of the award winning documentary to facilitate a conversation around the politics and impact of development and mining on the Wild Coast in South Africa. Attended by academics, postgraduate students as well undergraduate students the space created was diverse and the conversation informative and interesting.
While EWB-UCT made it their aim to provide their members with more opportunity to engage and grow as a society there were many students who were working tirelessly around the clock to push their specific projects forward. We oversaw 9 projects in total this year. The Vukukhanye Project focused on renovating the existing structure of Vukukhanye Primary School in Gugulethu in hopes to improve the learning environment for the benefit of the learners and their families. The Cheetah Enclosure Project worked in partnership with the Somerset Cheetah Outreach Park with the aim of designing a stimulating playpen for the cheetah cubs. The High-Efficiency Stove Project continued work on the development of a technology that will allow for the safe efficient burning of treated wood for cooking purposes. The Litre of Light project continued to provide solar lighting in shacks and used the year to research and develop a low cost solution to providing light at night. The Digital Bridge Project joined forces with ESW to renovate and improve computer facilities at Parkwood Primary School. Further progress was made in The Solar MPPT and Tracking Project, The Star Path Project, Sterling Engine Project and the Nunu Sheapheads Project all researching and developing innovative ways to solve problems faced by communities with the goal to improve their standard of living.