NMMU Electrical Engineering students and members of the Institute of Electrical Engineers East Cape branch, attended a lecture by the incoming SAIEE President at the university engineering faculty conference centre, on Thursday 11th April.
The speaker, Mr Paul van Niekerk, is a registered Professional Electrical Engineer with over 30 years experience in Electrical Supply Systems in South Africa and Mauritius. He addressed the audience on the challenge for young engineers in support of the National Development Plan objectives.
Statistics available from the Engineering Council are of grave concern, according to Mr van Niekerk, who advised that, “.. only 250 students of the 1998 learner intake of 1,4 million have gone on to become registered engineers in all disciplines.”
This is only a small percentage of the 2500 university engineering graduates from that group and he continued; “it is vital to encourage SA youth to become registered engineers, through structured post-graduate training, so that we reduce our need to import these skills to carry out development of electrical supply systems, particularly with renewable technology.”
Mr van Niekerk went on to explain how the SAIEE is assisting to bridge the “lost generation gap” by continuing with it’s intensive mentoring programme. This is the Institute’s commitment to support the development of working engineers by encouraging retired members to pass on valuable experience and knowledge.
The address, which created a lively response from the delegates, was followed by a social event giving SAIEE members and NMMU students a networking opportunity to discuss the challenges of providing electricity to SA, in future.
Mr van Niekerk, who is based at the SAIEE office in Gauteng, will continue on his induction tour to other major centres, with the same message to encourage growth of the engineering profession amongst South African learners. The Port Elizabeth event was organised by the SAIEE Eastern Cape Centre committee, which has been particularly active in recent years, supported strongly by NMMU faculty engineering members.
The South African Institute of Electrical Engineers, which has more than 5700 members throughout South Africa, is committed to improve the quality of electrical engineers and provides on-going training programmes for professional development. This continual update process is essential to maintain engineering expertise and registration with ECSA, the South African registration authority for all engineering disciplines.