A team of IEEE volunteers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) implemented the first EPICS in IEEE Project outside the US in 2009 at Thandokulu High school, Mowbray, Cape Town. According to Dr. David Oyedokun who has been involved with EPIC-in IEEE project in Cape Town since 2010, the artifact from that project is still in use for demonstration during Open Day at the department of electrical engineering, UCT. Nine years later, 30 female learners from the same school received an all-expenses paid invitation to participate in a Women in Energy Luncheon at IEEE PowerAfrica Conference in Cape Town on 26 June 2018. During the luncheon, a panel discussion was held between the learners and an all-female panel which consisted of engineers, scientists and an economist.  About 60 additional conference attendees joined the session.  The discussion themed Women in Energy covered the role of mentorship in career development, support mechanisms in industry, sensitizing colleagues to making the engineering workplace female friendly, career development and progression and leading a successful professional career as a mother.

(From left to right: Dr. Joyce Mwangama Dr. Melissa Densmore, Ms. Tara Caetano, Dr. Jiska De Groot, Mrs. Joyce Mtimkulu and Mrs. Khanyakazi Dioka, PrEng)

Myriad opportunities remain available for women in the energy and engineering and the learners in attendance were encouraged to hear that they had taken the first step which is showing interest. The discussion was moderated by an outstanding professional engineer from Eskom, Mrs. Khanyakazi Dioka,PrEng.  The panelists congratulated the learners for attending the discussion and implored them to be steadfast in their quest for knowledge and information about the engineering. The learners were delighted to know that within the IEEE, structures such as Women in Engineering (WiE) and Women in Power (WiP) seek to support the career advancement of women in the field and create networking opportunities.

As testament to how well the learners received enjoyed the session, in her input to the discussion said that she would like to see the panelist visit their school and other schools in her community so that more learners can benefit from the wealth of knowledge and information that was shared.

The learners will be invited to participate in developing a renewable energy (RE) center at the school, a project spearheaded by Dr. David Oyedokun. The project will showcase both vertical and horizontal axis wind turbine technologies as well as solar PV. The objective of the project is to create a platform through which pre-university learners in the area can interact with RE technologies, electrical design, programming, energy economics, develop and sustain interest in electrical engineering.

In this picture: Dr. David Oyedokun with learners from Thandokulu High School.

The panel discussion was facilitated by Ms Estee Amana, Dr. David Oyedokun, Mr. Thato Semoko, supported by IEEE South Africa Section, IEEE PES, IEEE Young Professionals (Cape Town) and the SAIEE.

For information, please contact davoyedokun@ieee.org.