Engineering Technology for the Future
WomEng held its first @Network event of 2014 at the Protea President Hotel in Sea Point, Cape Town, on 26 June 2014. WomEng Managing Director, Hema Vallabh, acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening’s formalities, first welcoming all the attendees, giving a brief background on the organisation and introducing the panel speakers.
Megan Verkuil is the founder and CEO of Capsule Technologies and has initiated the African Android Computer project. Megan’s vision is to understand and solve the challenges experienced in Africa by transforming life in the continent using technology. She is a true Africanist, and is saddened by the fact that people do not support African technologies. “Many still prefer the European or American alternatives and are not properly educated about the African technologies available.”
Djamila Douache is an Algerian Electronics Engineer with a Master’s degree in Image Processing and is currently working as an international training engineer at Eurl ZTE, a global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions; where she is responsible for providing technical training to both clients and university students. She is extremely passionate about education and advised the students in the room to always be open to learning, even once they’ve graduated. “Education at universities won’t teach you to work – it will give you the tools to enable you to work.”
Mansoor Mohamed is a chartered accountant and has worked in the private and public sector locally and abroad. From him, we all learnt some startling economic truths about our city. “Ninety-six per cent of Capetonians earn an average of R2000 – R2500 per month; the other four per cent earn in excess of R20 000 per month.” Startling indeed, when one considers that most of our businesses and enterprises cater for the 4% group. He now spends most of his time “innovating at the bottom of the pyramid” by finding entrepreneurial solutions for society’s challenges. He currently manages projects in mobile technology and education, green tech, responsible tourism and “bridging the digital divide”.
The Cape Town @Network event is particularly special as it is held during WomEng’s annual Fellowship week (previously known as Conference). The evening’s theme, “Engineering Technology for the Future” ties in perfectly with the Fellowship theme, “Engineering Technology for Social Good” and the Fellows were invited to attend.
After opening remarks from the panellists and panel moderator, Naadiya Moosajee, the audience were given the chance to pose questions and offer remarks.
The @Network division of WomEng not only aims to bring together Engineering professionals, but professionals from other sectors as well. As the evening progressed, many important questions and issues were raised, covering a wide range of angles from Engineering to the environment, economics, education and ethics: What’s the next big thing? What can we do make technology accessible and affordable to everyone? Do we need to redraw ethical lines because technology has enabled so much? By the end of the discussion, everyone was in agreement that social good, proper education and support of local initiatives should be foremost when planning for the future and advancement of our country and continent.
After the panel discussion, attendees had a chance to peruse the various exhibits on display from some of the sponsors of the evening. It was also a great opportunity for the Fellows to interact with the various company representatives regarding employment opportunities.
A definite highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winners of the WomEng Fellowship technical challenge, where the ten groups had to pitch an app idea to a panel of judges. The winning idea was a project called “Taxi2?” which endeavours to assist taxi users in locating the safest taxis and routes.
WomEng’s next @Network event, themed ‘Energy Africa’ will be held in Johannesburg on 2 September 2014.
For more details, visit http://womeng.org .