UP Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology students awarded bursaries valued at R2m

Posted on May 30, 2023

Thirteen University of Pretoria (UP) students funded by Huawei for the 2023 academic year were recently honoured during an intimate award ceremony at the University. The ceremony also served as an introduction to the 2024 Huawei Bursary Programme, graduate programme, and other initiatives for both the University and its prospective students.

Representatives from UP expressed their appreciation and highlighted the importance of big tech companies nurturing young talent for the future of technology. Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Alta van der Merwe, Acting Deputy Dean of Teaching and Learning at the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT (EBIT), said: “Companies such as Huawei will play a big role in the way we handle artificial intelligence in the future, and as UP students, you can be a part of that movement.” 

Bursary recipients were selected based on their academic performance. Through the bursaries, the students will be able to further their studies in their respective fields of specialisation and will also be part of the Huawei graduate programme once they’ve completed their studies. The graduate programme is aimed at giving the students practical workplace skills and experience.

A group bursary recipients

Over the past 5 years, 56 UP students have received funding from Huawei, which covered tuition, accommodation and a stipend.

“I get excited when I see students interested in furthering their studies beyond undergraduate level,” said Deputy Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies, Professor James Maina. Echoing Prof Van der Merwe’s words, he said: “There is a vast range of opportunities for young people to shape the future through technology and research.”

Prof Maina added that even the electricity crisis in South Africa needs young and innovative minds to bring solutions to the table. “There is no reason why companies such as Eskom are still struggling when there are young and capable minds from UP,” he said.

Over the past 5 years, 56 UP students have received funding from Huawei, which covered tuition, accommodation and a stipend. Over 80 UP students have been part of Huawei’s graduate programme.

UP alumnus shares experience

Mohammed Bismilla, Head of Emerging Talent at Huawei, said the company is committed to discovering new and young talent from tertiary institutions. 

“Your degree is entry into the work environment. There is a lot of room for you to grow and even explore other fields of work that are outside of what you studied,” said Bismilla.

Mechanical engineering graduate and UP alumnus Marno van der Meulen, who is now in a managerial position at Huawei, shared his experience as a graduate at Huawei. He said it was through hard work and determination that he was able to grow within the company, which he joined in 2020.

“The key to growth at Huawei is to be persistent. Ask questions, knock on doors, and engage with colleagues. There are ample opportunities for you to progress in the company; use them,” he said.

Other students from EBIT also attended the award ceremony to get insights into the company, including how to apply for funding and how to secure employment at Huawei. 

Final-year computer engineering students and Huawei bursary recipients Sibongeleni Msimang and Jordan Collocott expressed their appreciation for the life-changing opportunity Huawei has given them through the bursaries. 

“I feel incredible about the opportunity that Huawei has given me. The money is going to support me until I compete my degree at the end of the year. I am also very excited to start working at the company next year,” said Collocott.

“I cannot wait to join the Huawei team after I graduate. I am mostly looking forward to learning and growing in the company,” said Msimang. 

- Author Prudance Minyuku

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