ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS SOUTH AFRICA
To observers looking in, the life of an engineer is a glamourous and largely misunderstood venture; undertaken by many, and attained by few. It appears as a mirage of promising wealth and success to those who “make it”. These stereotypes persist most especially with the students who desire to pursue engineering as a career.
Therefore, it is important for the students to be able to engage with individuals who have already gone through the process and entered the workplace so that they have the opportunity to learn as much as possible, thereby entering the workplace with their eyes a little wider and their expectations a little more realistic.
EWB-Wits acknowledges this need for its members to have someone from whom they can attain this knowledge and maybe even look up to. To address this issue a ‘Speed Mentoring’ event was held in the hopes of fostering an environment for its members to perhaps identify a role model/ mentor, and if nothing else, to have an opportunity to learn from the individuals present.
The idea of ‘Speed Mentoring’ works on the same premise as speed dating. A group of professionals, who either were practicing engineers or who had completed engineering as their undergraduate degree, were assembled as the mentors. The students were then split into small groups which would move from mentor to mentor. Each group had 7 minutes to engage with the mentor before rotating to the next professional.
Having the opportunity to engage with mentors is both a privilege and a responsibility for the student. One of the benefits of being able to speak to someone already in the field that you wish to go into is that you gain new perspective; illuminating potential challenges as well as potential prospects. It also provides an opportunity to learn from the mentors and piece together a vision for yourself of yourself in the future. And this vision is different to the initial beguiling ideal that you had because now you have been exposed to a few new realities, as recounted by the mentors’ experiences.
One of the interesting aspects of this particular event was the diversity of the professionals themselves; these mentors represented a wide variety of engineering fields, including mechanical, biomedical, mining, electrical, computer and civil engineering. It also reflected a diverse group including both men, and women, those who had recently graduated and those who had been in the field for decades. But what was very interesting was that many of the mentors had actually ventured into fields outside of engineering. There were mentors who were now working in banks, people who worked for huge companies as analysts, and there was even a mentor who had worked as an engineer but was now working as a lawyer, having decided to use their previous experience to further their career.
This diversity was important because it shared with the students the possibility of more than one type of set career path. Understanding that the opportunities are limitless helps to fuel the drive within a student to want to grow and reach whatever potential they possess.
Throughout the event the students had actively participated and engaged with the mentors; asking questions, listening attentively and taking note of the answers received. At this stage from the standpoint of EWB-Wits the event was a success, but for the members the range of success they can have with this event is based off of what they do with the knowledge they have received. This application of knowledge can take many forms and after the event EWB-Wits was excited to witness a few of these instances. For example, there were students who contacted a particular mentor afterwards, requesting more information and advisory assistance, which the mentors gave graciously. There were students who received business cards and industry contact details. And there were students who wrote down what was being said to them and left the event feeling empowered and invigorated.
As EWB-Wits this is all we can hope for; that our members have opportunities to learn how to network and market themselves, and that they can continue to feel a passion for engineering and achieve the goals that they have set for themselves. And most importantly to empower them to know that others have made it through and so can they.
Written by Ashleigh Vetten
Engineers Without Borders Wits has been actively hosting a number of projects and events throughout 2016. As events and projects that are geared towards education and empowerment are the primary focus of our society, they will be the primary focus of this report.
Events were conducted successfully for the larger part in 2016. There were 6 major events that were hosted, with the final two being postponed indefinitely due to the Fees Must Fall protests. The 2016 events are listed below with a brief description:
On the other side of EWB-Wits, projects were rather slow and not as high impact as was hoped. The main focus of the projects team was on Ingqayizivele Secondary School in Tembisa. This school was identified in 2015 as a place where many small projects could be implemented in order to maximize the community impact. The 2017 project management team has reviewed
the performance of the 2016 team and solutions have been considered. The projects that have been worked on in 2016 are listed and described below:
Overall the society has done reasonably well in 2016 and will continue to grow in 2017.
Chairman - 2017
On the 6th of May the EWB-Wits had their first team building event. This event was aimed at bringing the team together in a much more relaxed atmosphere. Basically this was a bonding session to strengthen the working relationship and to boost the team’s morale. This event was meant for the executive committee members only. There were 2 guest speakers, former EWB-Wits Project Manager, Robert and Lukhanyo. Robert gave 5 intriguing talks. There was a number of interesting games in-between these talks which kept the members lively and were able to keep on engaging in the short discussions. The talks were very in sighting and the enthusiasm that was shown by the members made Robert forget that he had a time limit for each talk. In the last 45 minutes of the event Lukhanyo took over and gave an interesting and intense motivation about mentorship. He gave tips on how to choose a mentor and how to handle a mentor-mentee relationship. The abstract of this motivation lied mostly in how each individual should know themselves, understanding personal talents, and choosing a mentor who will actualize a person’s vision and also expand a person’s mind-set. Time was however jealous, the event had to finish and it left the member’s wanting to hear more from Lukhanyo and Robert. The team building event was a success and it served its purpose
The Wits chapter hosted a speed mentoring event on 20 April 2016. At the event, the members got an opportunity to meet and engage some of industry’s top professionals from various engineering and non-engineering disciplines, and to ask any questions they may have pertaining to the professional environment. Despite the less than expected turn up, the event was an overall success as we had a near perfect mentor to student ratio. The students and the mentors were happy with the event and many felt such events need to be done more frequently.
The first members meeting was held on 3 March 2016. This was the first time the committee members were introduced to the new members. Amongst the topics covered were the Year plan, events to be hosted, new and ongoing projects and a bit of brainstorming. The members left the meeting full of energy and enthusiasm as they looked forward to what will be an exciting chapter in the year. And of course,
EWB-Wits being the perfect host that it is, refreshments were served to quench the members thirst for positive impact and to water their desire to engage communities with ideas and a hands-on approach.
The year started off on a high note with an increase in the O-Week signups compared to 2015. Over 270 new members signed up during O-week, indicating a very eventful year to come. The committee worked tirelessly to keep up with the number of members signing up and inquiring about EWB-Wits and what EWB-SA stands for. This was a very successful O-week and the members would not be disappointed with what the society had in store for them.
As the new year begins and Engineers Without Borders-University of the Witwatersrand (EWB-Wits) embarks on a new adventure with new and old members, alongside other student chapters, under the Engineers Without Borders-South Africa (EWB-SA) umbrella, review and reflection of the previous year is of paramount importance. The insight gained from this process ensures that previous mistakes will not be repeated and outlines the paths that had led the committee to success. This article relives the journey undertaken by EWB-Wits in 2015 by highlighting the most important events of the year.
EWB-Wits Speed Mentoring Event 2015
The EWB-Wits Speed Mentoring Event took place on the 25th February 2015. The purpose of the event was to connect students to potential mentors and to give them an opportunity to connect with people in their area of professional interest. This event opened the minds of students to what they may expect from their careers and more than anything it helped them in setting goals for the future. The event was very productive and resulted in great connections being made, many questions being answered and many students being inspired.
EWB-SA Project LifeCycle Workshop (Gauteng) 2015
The project management process was addressed at the EWB-SA Project LifeCycle Workshop (Gauteng)held on the 11th April 2015. The workshop was attended by EWB-SA student chapters and was highly informative, whilst the guest speakers were delightful. The workshop focused on key aspects of projects, such as problem identification, solution identification, engineering design, implementation, monitoring, adapting, closure and review of a project. The main message of the workshop was that consideration of the human factor is necessary for the success of any project, all of which would tie in nicely with the Human Centred Design (HCD) course that was held later on that year by EWB-Wits.
EWB-Wits Litre of Light (LOL) Workshop 2015
The Litre of Light (LOL) Workshop was held on the 18th of April 2015. The purpose of the workshop was to educate and inform members of EWB-Wits about the LOL Project. The background of project was introduced to the members and they were shown the projects potential for further development, which involved the night time solution. Through a demonstration members were taught how to construct the bottles which would later be used when implementing the project in various disadvantaged areas. Each member was given an opportunity to build the solar bottles themselves using the provided equipment. The member participation was extensive and each group managed to build 2-3 bottles and found that the workshop provided good practical experience which they would not have found anywhere else. The feedback from the members was overwhelming with many of the participants wanting to be a part of the installation phase of the project.
EWB-Wits and the WomEng Information Session 2015
The Gauteng division of the Women in Engineering organisation (WomEng) held an information session on the 16th May 2015. The information session was aimed at motivating, empowering and celebrating the next generation of women in engineering. EWB-Wits actively participated in the information session. With professionals from various engineering fields, the young women were informed about the challenges and rewards that lie ahead. The session created greater awareness and raised the profile of the engineering industry thus contributing to the attraction and retention of females in the engineering sector. Being ardent supporters of women empowerment and the progression of women in the engineering industry, the EWB-Wits team was pleased to be a part of the WomEng information session and to be associated with the renowned international organisation. We learnt, asked questions and most importantly had FUN!
EWB-Wits Human Centered Design (HCD) Course 2015
EWB-Wits held the Human Centered Design (HCD) course over five sessions. The purpose of the HCD course was to provide students with an opportunity to approach problem solving differently, by helping them use the design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change. The course highlighted the importance of the human factor in the success of all projects that affect society, a factor which is often overlooked in the technical side of engineering design. Students learned how to be vigilant and aware of the problems around them, they also learned how to investigate these problems, brainstorm solutions and explore all possible solutions to find the most plausible solution to the problem. With more than 40 students actively completing the course over the entire five weeks, it has been deemed a success by the EWB-Wits committee. It sparked interest and new ideas and was highly beneficial for everyone who participated.
EWB-Wits Project Management Workshop (PMW) 2015
EWB-Wits held the Project Management Workshop (PMW) on the 6th August 2015. The main goal of the workshop was to enlighten and equip potential project leaders with the skills necessary to start and maintain a successful project. This was done largely by giving the participants insight into the actually day to day workings of a project manager, through personal testimonies presented by three esteemed guest speakers. The student participants learnt how to get assistance from the public, volunteers and professionals bodies for the commencement and maintenance of a project. In addition, the importance of innovation, motivation, use of technology and public engagement for the realisation of a project was also discussed. The participants left the workshop feeling inspired and enlightened on how to make projects happen with impact and efficiency.
EWB-Wits and the Social Innovator Award 2015
The industrious work done by EWB-Wits was recognised by the University of the Witwatersrand, when EWB-Wits was awarded the Social Innovation Award. The EWB-Wits project manager and one of the project leaders were awarded the runners up for the Most Outstanding Student Leaders. EWB-Wits was greatly humbled by the recognition and aims to do even better this year!
EWB-Wits attends the EWB-SA 4th Annual Leadership Summit Weekend 2015
EWB-Wits attended the EWB-SA 4th Annual Leadership Summit Weekend from the 4 – 6 December 2015, alongside the other student chapters. The Summit gave all the EWB-SA student chapters a chance to connect, discuss and the review the year that had passed as well as to plan and strategize for the following year. The Summit kicked off with the EWB-SA Annual General Meeting. The highlight of the AGM was the EWB-SA Engineering Excellence Award, which was received by EWB-UP, the proud recipients of the R 5000 cash prize.
The reminder of the Annual Leadership programme took place in Magaliesburg. The following day started with a panel discussion focussing on the Green Economy, the latest buzz phrase in the engineering community. This was charted by a feedback session on design ideology and progression. During which the student chapters considered HCD course, the importance of education as well as methods taken to ensure that action is impactful. Group discussions continued till late as the student chapters bounced ideas of one another. The last day of the Summit saw the student executive strategizing and planning for 2016. After a busy and productive weekend, it could be conclude that student leadership under EWB-SA was in safe hands.
Written by Dhruti Dheda on behalf of EWB-Wits
Engineers Without Borders-Witwatersrand (EWB-Wits) attended the Engineers Without Borders-South Africa (EWB-SA) 4th Annual Leadership Summit Weekend from the 4 – 6 December 2015.
The Annual Leadership Summit gives all the EWB-SA student chapters a chance to connect, discuss and the review the year that has passed as well as to plan and strategize for the following year. EWB-Wits attended the Summit alongside Engineers Without Borders – University of Johannesburg (EWB-UJ), Engineers Without Borders-University of KwaZulu Natal (EWB-UKZN), Engineers Without Borders-University of Cape Town (EWB-UCT), Engineers Without Borders-University of Pretoria (EWB-UP), Engineers Without Borders-Stellenbosch (EWB-MATIES), Engineers Without Borders-Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (EWB-NMMU) and Engineers Without Borders-University of South Africa (EWB-Unisa). The entire Summit was kindly sponsored by WSP Africa.
The Summit kicked off with the EWB-SA Annual General Meeting on Friday evening, 4 December 2015. The Meeting was hosted at the OPEN, in The Main Change, Maboneng. The highlight of the Meeting was EWB-SA Engineering Excellence Award, which was received by EWB-UP, the proud recipients of the R 5000 cash prize.
The Summit then proceeded to Magaliesburg, where the reminder of the Annual Leadership programme took place the following Saturday and Sunday. Despite having only 4 hours of sleep after the AGM the previous day, the excited students were all geared up and excited for the prospective activities of the day. The day started with a panel discussion with WSP focussing on the Green Economy, the latest buzz phrase in the engineering community and other pressing engineering issues. The participation from the student chapters was infectious, as they immersed themselves in the discussion about the thing that matter the most to them, engineering. An interesting fact raised during the discussion was that South Africa only has one engineer for every 3 thousand people. Clearly, there is a demand for more qualified engineers of good calibre.
This was followed by a feedback session on design ideology and progression. The student chapters considered Human Centered Design (HCD), the importance of education as well as the delicate and complex path proceeding from ideas to action and methods taken to ensure that action is impactful. Group discussions continued till late as the student chapters bounced ideas of one another.
The last day saw the student executive strategizing and planning for 2016. From the talks that ensued, the plans for the following year seemed multifaceted and detailed, directed from the goals of each chapter.
After a busy and productive weekend, one can happily conclude that student leadership under EWB-SA, to state it simply, rocks!
The Engineers Without Borders – University of the Witwatersrand (EWB-Wits) held the Project Management Workshop (PMW), in Central Block 15 (CB15), East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, on the 6 August 2015, from 6pm to 9pm.
The main goal of the workshop was to enlighten and equip potential project leaders, with the skills necessary to start and maintain a successful project. This was done largely by giving the participants insight into the actually day to day workings of a project manager, teaching them how to get assistance from the public, volunteers and professionals bodies. In addition, the importance of innovation, motivation, use of technology and public engagement for the realisation of a project was also discussed.
The event was graced by three esteemed guest speakers, three professionals: Dr. Edmarie Pretorius (lectures at the Department of Social Work, focusing on community development, WITS), Mr. Gundo Netshidzivhani (PR. Eng) and Mr. Russell Hattingh (Pr. Eng), who presented a personal testimony of their experience in managing various projects. Each speaker focussed on different areas important to the management of projects. The main topics discussed included: Project Management in terms of Budget, Time and Quality; Getting People and Communities Involved and lastly EWB-Wits’ Approach to Project Management, Innovation and Proposals.
The workshop included three 30 minute talks, each by one of the guest speakers, followed by an additional 15 minute Q&A session after each talk, in which the floor was then opened to questions from the students on areas which the found problematic with regards to projects. The evening was concluded with a networking session over light refreshments.
The participants left the workshop feeling inspired and enlightened on how to make projects happen with impact and efficiency. Many felt that the workshop helped to refine their management skills, in terms of time, resources and people as well as provided them with any opportunity to network with industry professionals.
In conclusion, the EWB-Wits Team, felt that the Project Management Workshop 2015, was a well-executed project in itself, judging from the warm response received, even if we have to say so ourselves.
Written by Dhruti Dheda on behalf of EWB-Wits
The Gauteng division of the Women in Engineering organisation (WomEng) held an information session on the 16th of May 2015 at the Science Stadium, West Campus, University of the Witwatersrand. The information session was aimed at motivating, empowering and celebrating the next generation of women in engineering.
Engineers Without Borders – University of Witwatersrand (EWB-Wits) participated in the information session as well as put up an EWB-Wits display table, showcasing the functions and projects of the ambitious student chapter.
With professionals from various engineering fields, the young women, particularly from Grade 10-12, were informed about the challenges and rewards that lie ahead. The session created greater awareness and raised the profile of the engineering industry thus contributing to the attraction and retention of females in the engineering sector.
Being ardent supporters of women empowerment and the progression of women in the engineering industry, the EWB-Wits team was pleased to be a part of the WomEng information session and to be associated with the renowned international organisation. We learnt, asked questions and most importantly had FUN!
Written by Dhruti Dheda on behalf of EWB-Wits
Empowering Engineers to Empower Communities
2016 | EWB-SA is a registered non-profit company | NPC 2013/014531/08