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:
- Speed Mentoring – Professional engineers were brought in to speak to members for 5 minutes at a time. In these 5 minute intervals members are free to ask about anything related to their studies, industry experiences, etc. Member attendance was satisfactory and most attendees were happy with the experience.
- Project Management Workshop – This event was hosted on behalf of Engineers Without Borders South Africa. Talks were given about how to successfully run projects as an EWB member and an engineer in general. Attendance included members from various EWB branches, as well as the EWB-SA management.
- Team building – this event was geared towards the committee members in order to promote the unity of the society leadership. Attendance was poor as the event seemed to fall at a very busy time in the semester. This has been addressed by the committee.
- Creative Lab – This event was run over 2 days. On the first day members were given talks about running projects and implementing solutions in consultation with community members. On the second day members were given scenarios and asked to brain storm ideas by using the knowledge that was gained on the first day. Attendance was poor due to the poor timing of the event. This has been noted and will be addressed by the 2017 events team.
- Mining and Shared Value Screening – This event was hosted on behalf of EWB-SA and was organised in order to discuss the challenges that face the mining sector in South Africa. Attendance was primarily EWB-SA professionals as this event happened during the 2nd semester midterm break.
- 2017 Committee elections – These elections were held in order to elect the leadership of the society for 2017. Member attendance was satisfactory and leaders were successfully elected.
- Annual General Meeting and 2016 Committee picnic/dinner – these 2 events were postponed indefinitely due to the Fees Must Fall protests. This has been communicated to members.
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:
- After Hours Study room – Large metal shipping containers are to be used in order to make warm, self-sustaining study rooms for the learners of Ingqayizivele. The designs have been completed and currently funding is the major stalling point for the project. Sponsorships have been successfully sought out by the projects team in 2015, however, it is no longer enough. The rapid decrease in the value of the Rand in 2016 has negatively impacted the project because the shipping containers are priced in United Stated Dollars. The society is hard at work, trying to find more sponsors in order to cover the shortfall. As soon as that is done, the construction phase will be ready to commence.
- Waste Management – It was also identified that at this school rubbish is burned on campus because waste collection services do not operate in its area. The projects team attempted to engineer solutions to this problem, however, it was found that the solutions demand skills that are well beyond that of an undergraduate engineering student. A thorough review of this project is to be done in the near future in order to decide on a way forward that will leave all stakeholders happy.
- Vegetable garden – The school had started a vegetable garden in order to feed learners that did not have food. The initiative was not a huge success so EWB-Wits volunteered to assist in planting and maintaining the garden. Members were taken to the school on a Saturday morning in order to assist. This was a huge success for the society and the community in Tembisa.
Overall the society has done reasonably well in 2016 and will continue to grow in 2017.
Chairman - 2017