ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS SOUTH AFRICA
Statement from the office of chair and vice chair
And that’s a wrap! 2018 was a transformative year for EWB Wits and began with a relatively new committee. As a committee we decided on the following goals for the society for the year; we wanted to ensure that the events that we held were of a high standard, we wanted to participate in more projects and in doing so retain members. And throughout the course of the year we were able to meet these goals with varying degrees of success.
The year began successfully with a fun and interactive games night. This light hearted fun and games allowed members to interact with each other in a relaxed atmosphere, allowing them to form various connections with each other and make friends outside the scope of their usual engineering fields. This was followed by a very successful entrepreneurship workshop which was hosted by the international Swedish Chambers University. Our international friends bought a different thinking to the members and they enjoyed gaining insights on the various steps of entrepreneurship and how this could be applied in their immediate fields of study. We also managed to collaborate well with EWBSA and other organizations such as Aurecon and WomENG to host a number of leadership and design course such as the Human Centred Design Course (HCD) held in early May of this year. Essentially we had a great deal of success in the events that we hosted for the members and we learnt many valuable lessons in terms of timeous and effective planning.
Second semester was ushered in with the annual much anticipated, speed mentoring which allowed members to make connections with the best of the best from industry. This was followed by a collaborative design challenge for social good hosted by the reputable company- Aurecon.
The main challenges that we faced were once again in the set up and implication of projects as EWB Wits. This continues to be a problem because of the nature of the goals that we had set for ourselves, and in many instances, we needed to lower our aspirations in order to make a more meaningful impact. There were no projects launched and completed by EWB this year. We did however have a very good session in project planning run by a member of Wits Engineering faculty, Irshaad Vawda in which we looked at practicality of projects done on campus, as well as the definition of success that we held for a so-called ‘successful project’. This was important because it will help us to move into next year with a better perspective.
In conclusion, we can say that 2018 was a successful year for Wits Engineers Without Borders. Our mission this year was to form collaborations make connections and ultimately inspire change in the lives of others. The committee worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this mission. The amount of growth experienced despite challenges was phenomenal. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others.
- Eunice Bohulu (Chairperson 2017/18) and Ashleigh Vetten (Vice-Chairperson 2017/18)
After a jam packed first semester the Wits Engineers Without Borders team ushered the new semester with their annual much anticipated speed mentoring event.
Speed mentoring is an event whereby members are given a chance to interact with the best industry mentors in a fun speed-date like fashion. How this works is that each mentor is allocated a table and the members (who are mostly students studying towards an engineering degree) rotate around each mentor after a 5 minute interval. Each interval allows the students to ask as many questions as possible and gain insight into what post university life looks like. After each student has had an opportunity to interact with each mentor, we allow the students to further connect with various mentors over light snacks in an unhurried environment. Students can then seek out their favourite mentors and exchange details with promises of a future mentor-mentee relationship.
This year’s speed mentoring brought in the best industry experts, who have done remarkable, extraordinary things with their engineering degrees. Not all mentors worked in the conventional engineering field, as some of them decided to pursue: banking, data analytics and entrepreneurship among many other avenue’s. This was greatly beneficial to members as they got to see the vast applicability of an engineering degree. The mentors who attended this year's event were also actively trying to change/ better the world. This immensely inspired our members to not only do well for themselves but also continuously try to positively impact the lives of others as well.
“The mentors were motivational, inspirational and so humble as well, I definitely aspire to be like them in the near future” - An EWB member happily said at the end of the event.
All in all it was an exceptional event, and all who attended left the event feeling a little less scared, and a little more excited about their bright futures.
Engineers Without Borders- Empowering engineers to empower communities.
Written by Eunice Bohulu
In South Africa, access to electricity for households has increased from 77.1% in 2002, to 84.2% in 2016 (as published by Statistics South Africa). However, as the statistic indicates, there are still areas within the country that do not have access to electricity.
This is the case for a Muslim mosque in a township called Kwathema, located in the east of Johannesburg, where the mosque had no access to electricity due to land ownership issues. This meant prayers in the morning and at night could not be held as it becomes too dark with water getting too cold to use to wash hands and feet before prayers in winter, and this caused all prayers had to be held during daylight time.
Before becoming a Muslim community’s place of prayer, the building was a surgery run by a Muslim doctor for more than 20 years. When he decided to move from the place more than 8 years ago, he offered the place to the Muslim non-profit organisation; South African National Zakah Fund organisation (SANZAF), to be transformed into a mosque in order for the community to continue to benefit from this place as there was no other Mosjid (mosque) close by for Muslims as this was a fairly small and new township at the time.
Since it was established 8 years ago it has been transformed for more than the religious purposes but also serves as the community centre, afternoon study centre with football and netball court and a water garden where members of the community grow produce to feed their families with others using this as a small fresh produce business helping to reduce poverty and also empowering small businesses.
The building has two sections for prayer, a room for the caretaker, a kitchen, toilets and a multi-purpose room for all other activity required by the community and so all that was missing was electrical energy, hence when this was presented by SANZAF to EWB-Wits we were very excited to jump in with ZP Energy company (which is a company of experienced engineers that bring renewable energy solutions to such problems) “to fill a need”.
The objectives were to design a sustainable renewable energy solution for the general energy requirements independent of the municipality. Using solar energy was found to be the most practical solution for lighting and plugs and a hybrid solar plus gas geyser considering the location and circumstances of the community as well as investment wise. This project took approximately 2 months to execute working with the ZP Energy team, which left the Muslim organisation and people in the community with more possibilities for activities and what they could do.
The project is however still continuing as more challenges found at the mosque as it continues to grow will require engineering expertise and as much involvement as possible in order to fulfil their goal to making the Mosque a place of value for the community.
1. The South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF).
2. Zero Point Energy.
Other articles on this project can be found on:
1. www.zpenergy.co.za (on their news page)
2. www.irshaadv.com (Report from the ”solar face”)
Written by Vuma Ntobela on behalf of EWB-Wits.
Engineers without Borders - Wits orientation week
The year 2018 brought in a new committee, a new structure and an opportunity to get new members for EWB-WITS. The new team set out the year with a new mission, referred to as the Triple C and not the usual- Cool, Calm and Collected but a more applicable, unique spin off. EWB-WITS introduced their version of the triple C - Collaborations, Connections and ultimately Change. We sought to Collaborate with our members, collaborate with other societies and sought to form collaborations with industries. We further wanted to give our members the opportunity to make Connections; Connections with each other, Connections with their communities and Connections with industry professionals. Our final aim was to ultimately Change the world, because we are the Change.
We started the year off with the very exciting Wits university Orientation week, or more commonly known as O-week. We had a stand set up in the great hall piazza, along with a variety of other societies which included golden key international; Black Science, Technology and Engineering Professionals, and Inala to name a few. This set up was immensely beneficial as it allowed us to engage with prospective members and societies. The EWB-WITS committee members encouraged others to join the society through stories of their own experiences in changing the world. EWB-WITS also ran an interesting competition members had to take enthusiastic, passionate pictures and display their eagerness to join the society for cool prizes. O-week also allowed us to form collaboration with another society WomEng, WomEng provided us with pink hard hats which piqued the interest of prospective members. This collaboration also allowed for a demonstration of brand recognition and togetherness.
The Chairperson, Vice- Chairperson and Secretary / Treasurer gave presentations to the various divisions of engineering schools and this proved to be successful- soon after the presentations the EWB stand at the piazza was flocked with eager members lining up to sign up and ask more questions about our society.
All in all we enjoyed the company of each other and our new members and we have high hopes of together achieving Collaboration, Connections and ultimately Change during the year of 2018.
EWB-WITS Speed Mentoring
Inspired by the idea of speed dating. EWB-WITS ushered in the 2017 year with the Speed-mentoring event. Mentors were assigned to certain tables where they would stay for the duration of the event and the students moved around in groups of three/four and settled at each table for three minutes, during which they were able to interact with the industry professionals and each other. At the end of the three minutes, the groups would move on to the next table where a similar procedure would take place but only now they interacted with a different mentor.
The EWB-WITS team invited students from the university to sit and talk to professionals from a multitude of engineering divisions, this event allowed for a platform where students were able to discuss, debate and question professionals about their everyday lives, their various career choices, and reasons for decisions made that enabled them to arrive at that particular point in their career. Speed mentoring also allowed the mentors to inspire, motivate and advise the students. Providing critical comparisons between their expectations and the realities of industry and encouraging them to reach higher frontiers.
At the end of the event the students were given another opportunity to interact with the mentors in a more unhurried atmosphere where they simply spoke, shared a meal and some even exchanging details and promising to keep in contact with the mentors.
Personally, I feel that the event opened up my mind to the plethora of choices I have after the completion of my undergrad. Being a student for the majority of my life I found the “next step” rather daunting, but after speaking to the professionals I found that there are many career options that are not limited to the engineering industry, and that although there are challenges in the South African engineering industry there are also many rewards. I learnt that not all doors will open easily and that sometimes it requires hard work and patience to achieve certain goals. I was encouraged to aspire for greatness in everything I do and that dreams, however big, are not only worth dreaming but also worth working hard for, but most importantly I was inspired to make a change in my community by empowering, inspiring and motivating others.
All in all the event was rather successful with both the students and mentors leaving the event satisfied, and a little less anxious about the future. This event reflected the EWB mission of activating, generating, using and transferring engineering knowledge that benefits humanity and bridges the gap between industry and society.
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.
Empowering Engineers to Empower Communities
2018 | EWB-SA is a registered non-profit company | NPC 2013/014531/08