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STEM Superheroes Hacking The Future: Inspiring Learners To Change The World With ICT

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

For UWC’s Women In ICT Celebrations, the Department of Information Systems is teaching 100 girls and boys from local schools to code, and allowing them to receive guidance and inspiration from women leaders in the tech and entrepreneurship space.

(Published - 6 August 2018)

To engineer is human, and mastering science, technology, engineering and mathematics - or STEM - makes us all real-world superheroes, said Naadiya Moosajee, engineer and social entrepreneur.

Moosajee, the co-founder of Women in Engineering (WomEng), was speaking at the launch of the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Women In ICT Celebrations on Friday, 3 August 2018.

“Engineers are everywhere: everything around us has been engineered in some way - the cars we ride in, the cellphones we send messages with, the chairs we sit in, even the makeup we wear and the food we eat - there’s math and science in everyday life,” said Moosajee, who is working to develop STEM talent among girls in African countries.

Moosajee urged learners to think about their own lives, to find their passions and their strengths, and to see the gaps where science and engineering could make a big difference.

“Where most people see problems, engineers see - or try to see - solutions; and entrepreneurs see opportunity,” said Moosajee. “Good engineering is all about people. It’s not just about solving technical challenges - it’s about solving real problems, and making real lives better. And our economy needs entrepreneurs - people who can provide jobs and opportunities for others; and for that we need innovation.”

Developing Future Innovators: Women In ICT at UWC

Youth from Ikamvalethu Secondary School and Langa High School participated last week. The ‘Women In ICT Celebrations’ programme is set to continue with pupils from other schools being given the opportunity to learn from speakers including:

“If we are to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and navigate our way through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to empower the youth - and especially young women - with technical skills,” explained Dr Mmaki Jantjies from UWC’s Department of Information Systems who worked with the department postgraduate students to put the event together.

Dylan Crakuzira and Sivuyile Sonjicci - learners from Langa High School - raved about the programme.

“We learned a lot today - some of us don’t know what we want to do with our lives, but now we know what subjects to choose, and how to get the most out of school and university,” Dylan noted. “I want to be a mechanical engineer one day - to work with cars and design new cars. And now I know what I have to do to get that chance.”

Sivuyile added: “I also want to be a mechanical engineer one day - to be creative and build new things and fix problems. I hope some of the other learners were as inspired as I was today.”

Learners will be visiting UWC from:

  • Mondale Secondary School in Mitchells Plain and Dr Nelson Mandela Secondary School in CrossRoads/Philippi on 6 August, and,
  • Bulumko Secondary School in Khayelitsha and Perseverance Secondary School in Belhar on 7 August.

“Talent isn’t confined to one half of the population, and who knows what world-changing tech solutions we’re missing out on every time a potential coder, engineer or scientist misses opportunities?” said Dr Jantjies.

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