On 29 October 2019 Mr Parthy Chetty, Executive Director of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientist International Science Fair (ISF), met with members of the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT). The meeting, which was held at the EBIT Faculty, followed the Faculty’s participation in this year’s Expo. Prof Jan Eloff, Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies, welcomed the Executive Director and highlighted the importance of leveraging from the expo what EBIT needs to do as a Faculty.
Representatives from EBIT attend the annual Eskom Expo (ISF) held at Bitchwood Hotel in Boksburg to identify learners with potential and offer financial assistance. This year, the Faculty awarded bursaries to two deserving learners at the International Science Fair. One of the lucky learners, Ms Momelezi Nokele from Mthatha High School, whose project was titled ‘Waste-water: Energy for the future’, was provisionally accepted for studies in Mechanical Engineering at UP. The second, Ms Sahiba Adam from the Abdullah Bin Salaam Islamic Centre (ABSIC) School in Johannesburg, impressed the judges with her project ‘Artificial intelligence to save electricity’.
The Dean of the Faculty, Prof Sunil Maharaj, spoke about the University and the Faculty’s involvement in the expo from the time when he was still a lecturer in the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering and described this event as an opportunity to identify talent that may provide hope for a better future for all in this country. He emphasised the need to strengthen the partnership with Eskom by offering more bursaries and making available the support of dedicated academic staff who represent the Faculty at the Expo.
Mr Chetty appreciated the opportunity to visit the University and emphasised the value of the relationship between the Eskom Expo and EBIT and the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS).
|Prof Sunil Maharaj: EBIT Dean, Mr Parthy Chetty, Executive Director: ISF, Dr Hendrick Brink, Senior Lecturer: Chemical, Dr Kofi Anna, Senior Lecturer: Metallurgy, Prof Jan Eloff, Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies: EBIT and Dr Xandra van Heerden, Lecturer: Chemical Engineering
Although the bursaries offered by the University attract some of the most talented participants in the Expo, Eskom has indicated a need to explore the possibility of closer relationships, for example by pioneering a mentorship programme and inviting key judges from the University to participate in the Expo. In this regard, Mr Chetty said: ‘Involving more people, whether academic experts or senior students who can assist with adjudication, will raise the standard of the Expo.’ He emphasised the fact that since many of the participating learners, especially those from the townships, never have an opportunity to see or speak to a real engineer or scientist, interaction with academics has a remarkably positive impact on them as it makes them realise that it is possible to achieve their goals and change their lives.
An agreement was reached between the Faculty and the Eskom Expo to recruit more senior students to be trained on-site as judges. This partnership is also beneficial to the University as it attracts more students to the fields of engineering and information technology and stimulates them to register for postgraduate programmes in which the focus is more on research.
In conclusion, Mr Chetty said: ‘Money is the last thing we ask for. Although we welcome the bursaries as they encourage learners to work harder on their projects and studies, it is the expertise and experience that the University brings on board that makes a huge impact. You are actually the change agents to these learners and we rely on your academic expertise for the success of the Expo.’