Africa Engineering Week
The UNESCO Africa Engineering Week was held in the KZN city that is always full of energy, Umlazi, at Mangusuthu University of Technology from 28 September – 01 October 2015. The conference brought together industry players (from the public and private sectors), government representatives and academics to expose and share ideas about some of the most pertinent issues facing engineering in Africa.
The conference began with a panel discussion on practical engineering challenges and enhancing skills, expertise, capabilities and capacities within engineering. This interesting discussion was the onset to another related panel discussion on engineering education – the aspect of online learning was one of the main focuses. WomEng was represented in these discussions under the broader umbrella of capacity building and women in engineering. Engineering trends were highlighted throughout the conference – there are approximately 16 000 registered professional engineers in South Africa, of which less than five per cent are female.
The second day started off with the opening ceremony where UNESCO, ECSA, DST and MUT were represented by distinguished personnel. Thereafter WomEng was again represented in a panel discussion for opportunities and challenges for women in engineering. The idea is that the many challenges can each be thought of as opportunities, especially with WomEng’s principles and current initiatives.
The third and final day covered the following themes: engineering entrepreneurship, climate change and sustainable engineering, and innovation/commercialisation in engineering. Parallel to the conference proceedings was an exhibition for high school students to attend. WomEng was showcased in most elegant style with the signature pink hard hats. Hard hat activities, which are centered on the concept of branding yourself and celebrating your individuality were conducted. The activity was enormously successful and the positive impact that resulted was certainly evident.
- Reevana Balmahoon, GirlEng National Executive Co-Director