Hundreds of young scientists from across Africa have descended on the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre located in Boksburg, South Africa to compete in the 38th annual Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF).
More than 500 of Africa’s top future engineers, chemists, physicists, mathematicians and innovators will be competing at the country’s largest school-level science fair for a chance to take home prizes worth more than R8.5 million. This one of a kind event does not only bring together the brightest young scientists from across South Africa, but also from Lesotho, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania and Mexico.
These bright young minds have earned a spot at Eskom Expo ISF after beating the competition at a series of regional finals, and they will be poised to showcase their innovative projects to a panel of judges and industry experts in the hope of bagging one of the top prizes – a scholarship to study in Germany sponsored by Siemens, as well as 16 full bursaries to study anywhere in South Africa from Eskom.
While walking the floor of the expo, IT News Africa came across a plethora of innovations. These included Devon Nell’s, a Grade 11 pupil from Hoerskool Nelspruit, pop-up paraffin lamp, which when knocked over pops back up into a safe position – ultimately preventing the spillage of paraffin and preventing fires. We were also introduced to Rudi Venter, a grade 11 pupil from Duineveld Highschool, who had created a powered Arduino walking stick for the blind. It’s innovations like these that place these students amongst the top across Africa.
For 38 years now, the Eskom Expo has been cultivating a passion for the sciences in young people, giving participants a fun and exciting way to explore science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI).
“The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists creates a platform for future scientists and engineers across South Africa, to establish a base for their future careers. The competition is a great launch-pad for motivated youngsters keen to explore these fields and change not only their circumstances but their environments for the better. It is an ideal catalyst for unearthing the country’s brightest young minds in mathematics and science and also opens their eyes to the various options and many exciting career opportunities available in the extensive scientific world,” said Executive Director of the Eskom Expo, Parthy Chetty.
The Eskom Expo has always sought to foster an interest in the sciences and through strategic support, enable promising young scientists to pursue their interest at a tertiary level, thereby creating a pipeline of young talent to serve across a range of industries. From laptops right through to university scholarships, the Eskom Expo is truly enabling young people to pursue their dreams.
Engineering and digital technology giant, Siemens is one of the major sponsors and has been involved with the Eskom Expo for the third year running. The company has committed laptops and science kits as well as three full local bursaries plus an incredible opportunity for one young scientists to go through a three and a half year mechatronics or electronics apprenticeship at the Siemens Technical Academy in Berlin.
Fiona Khoza from Nelspruit, the 2017 Siemens winner was awarded a full scholarship to study in Germany and will intern at a Siemens facility. The Apprenticeship programme affords young people, like Fiona the opportunity to take part in a three-and-a-half year, high-level education programme in Berlin and then upon their return to South-Africa, an opportunity to join the Siemens workforce.
This is a unique opportunity promoting both international and multicultural exposure for young African innovators. This year Siemens is also funding the travel expenses of learners from other African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to share their innovations at this year’s Eskom Expo.
Siemens CEO for Southern and Eastern Africa, Sabine Dall’Omo said: “Skills development and investing in our youth is imperative to grow innovation in Africa. As a global company with a strong local presence, we are proud to contribute to the development of Africa’s next generation. Innovation and positive societal transformation is in our corporate DNA.”
Eskom has been the title sponsor for several years as the state-owned enterprise sees the value in developing a passion for STEM and giving a platform for these future problem solvers to take their scientific hobbies to the next level.
Thava Govender, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission and Acting Group Executive Sustainability & Risk says the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is a demonstration of Eskom’s commitment to helping develop skilled science and engineering professionals, not only in South Africa but the rest of the continent.
“Creating skills in these fields and bridging the developmental gap between nations is a worldwide challenge and the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is one way of attempting to do that. Each region needs to start at home and address this challenge in its own backyard and we are doing that while we also support other countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia. The competition is making a significant contribution to sustainable socio-economic development in Africa by empowering its children.”
The public are invited to attend the Eskom Expo and see first-hand the impressive projects that these young South Africans have developed.
The Eskom Expo is open to the public on 4 October from 13:30 – 17:00 at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre.