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