The NWU is proud to be led by a female Dean – Prof Liezl van Dyk in addition to boasting a significant number of inspiring female role models as academic staff. Examples include Prof Sanette Marx, an expert in the field of Biofuels, Prof Leenta Grobler an expert in the field of Digital Health and Ms Nthabiseng Modiri a researcher in Carbon Based Products to name but a few. We, therefore, realise the importance of developing the next generation of highly skilled women for the engineering and technology industries.
In order to increase the number of female engineers who are available for industry to employ, to bring about gender equality in the workplace, and to provide fresh perspectives on the problems faced in industry, the NWU have partnered with merSETA to develop a dedicated Women in Engineering (WiE) programme. The objectives of this programme are:
• To motivate, stimulate interest in, and improve access to engineering and related studies for South African high school girls; and
• To support, encourage and inspire existing female engineering students at the NWU, to successfully complete or further their studies.
We work towards this aim in a number of projects:
• Femmtor: In order to support our WiE initiatives, we need willing and able hands – to this end, the Femmtor bursary is awarded to a limited number of female undergraduate and post students acting as mentors and assistants on the WiE projects within the faculty.
• The Femmegineering Event: In order to attract more school girls to Engineering as Career a unique event is hosted annually. At this event we present the different faces of engineering as a career suitable to women. This includes engaging speakers, hands-on projects, fireside chats with female engineering students and engineers working in industry and excellent entertainment.
• The Modiragatsi Competition: Modiragatsi is an annual innovation competition for South African girls between the ages of 15 and 18. We hope to inspire girls to identify a problem that they care about and develop a concept solution in the form of a product in one of the following categories: Health care, Nature conservation & Tourism, Food security, Energy & Water, Township Economy and Gender Based Violence Prevention. The entrants and their mathematics or science teacher stand the chance of winning an all-expenses-paid technology tour to the USA as the ultimate prize.
• i-code-robot: In response to the statement made in 2019 by the minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, that new subjects in coding and robotics, which will develop the skills and competencies to prepare Gr R – 9 children for the fourth Industrial Revolution will be introduced from 2020, a 3-day short course was developed and offered to up-skill current primary school teachers in coding and robotics.