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SKF and eThekwini Municipality untap bright young minds

The Water and Sanitation Unit of eThekwini Municipality hosts a biennial student conference that is aimed at raising awareness in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The theme of the 2024 conference, ‘Water shortages and finding alternate technologies’, perfectly dovetails with SKF South Africa’s commitment to investing in the future of bright young minds as well as to finding sustainable environmental solutions. “It therefore made perfect sense for us to partner with the city of Durban with this conference presenting us with a perfect platform to promote our ‘Girls in Engineering Bursary Program,” says Titus Kasie, SKF Territory Sales Engineer: KZN & Eastern Cape.

Titus explains that SKF South Africa’s ‘Girls in Engineering Bursary Program’ is aimed at providing black female mechanical engineering students with funding for their studies. Now in its tenth year, this exceptional SKF initiative, which is rolled out via Golelo Trust, is an investment in the education of the youth with the intension to not only develop but also retain skilled engineers in South Africa. “The Bursary Program delivers several sustainability benefits, including the continuity of skilled labour and the provision of access to tertiary education to deserving candidates who require financial assistance to further their education,” emphasises Titus. He also points out that this initiative provides companies like SKF with access to eligible competent engineers which is a solid investment in the future of the organisation as well as in South Africa

The student conference, which was appropriately held in March – Water Month, invited students to challenge the status quo and to explore and develop innovative solutions for issues such as drought. Water conversations and topics centred on what society, particularly young people, can collectively do to design sustainable water-conservation strategies and innovations for the future of the region. The students, who represented fifty schools from rural and urban areas in eThekwini, were encouraged to generate thought-provoking and out-of-the-box solutions. The event furthermore provided a platform for students to present researched-based solutions to water sustainability issues and they were also tasked to develop innovative findings to these challenges

“With our Bursary Program, aimed at empowering young people by encouraging them to continue learning, seek out new information and explore and find solutions, it was extremely interesting to hear the thoughts of the next generation who are unencumbered by real world practicality and constraints that impede limitless thinking,” notes Titus.

“The solutions proposed by the students were fuelled by their passion to overcome water shortages, the lack of sanitation and to assist their communities with better access services.” Students were furthermore encouraged to consider careers in scarce STEM skills and SKF’s Bursary Program exposed the young minds to various bearing applications in a bid to spark interest in the field of Mechanical Engineering.”

According to a statement released by the eThekwini Municipality, the creative and thought-provoking ideas and suggestions received from students were analysed by the senior management of the Water and Sanitation Unit. The winners of the participating schools were awarded with prize money of R150 000 to be shared, and each participating school received R7 000, a trophy, and certificates for the students and the school.

“SKF supports the narrative of a growth mind-set and we aim to empower young people and to encourage them to continue learning, seek out new information and explore and find innovative solutions. We are very proud to be part of this excellent eThekwini student conference initiative which grows and inspires young talent and we are most impressed with the outcomes of the event,” concludes Titus.

The SKF Golelo Trust bursaries are awarded to those students with proven academic performance and personal circumstances deserving of support.  The extensive bursary covers all expenses related to tuition, textbooks, stationary, accommodation and a monthly stipend. Students in their second year and higher will be considered and interested applicants can complete the application form and submit with the required documents to corle.grobler@skf.com

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