General Electric (GE) in partnership with FHI360, PROTEC and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) officially launched the Next Engineers program in Johannesburg to increase the diversity of young people in engineering. The program launch, which was officiated by the Gauteng MEC for education, Panyaza Lesufi, will provide more than 3500 students between the ages 13 to 18 over five years with hands on exposure to engineering concepts and careers, and ultimately award financial support to students pursuing engineering degrees.
Next Engineers, funded by the GE Foundation, has also been launched in Cincinnati, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina in the United States of America, and Staffordshire in the U.K. Since announcing the selection of Johannesburg as one of the four launch cities to implement Next Engineers globally last year, PROTEC and the GDE ensured Next Engineers garnered significant interest in the program from high schools across Johannesburg’s five educational districts. In fact, approximately 1100 students have applied to be among the first to participate in the program’s exciting Engineering Discovery, Engineering Camp and Engineering Academy pillars. Today over 550 high school learners have been selected as the first cohort of students to develop their engineering identities through program’s Engineering Discovery and Engineering Academy pillars.
Nyimpini Mabunda, CEO of GE South Africa says, “As we slowly start recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that we require more diverse solutions that will contribute to the growth of the economy. Through GE’s Next Engineers program, we are not only exposing tomorrow’s engineers and changemakers who will solve society’s most pressing challenges to invaluable hands-on learning experiences but we are playing our part in increasing the representation of females in the engineering sector”. “As the GDE, we welcome this initiative and are grateful that GE will be investing in transforming our engineering sector, especially through our learners. As we are aware, the engineering sector has a critical role to play in ensuring that Gauteng achieves its goals as articulated in the Growing Gauteng Together Vision 2030,” said Gauteng Education MEC, Mr. Panyaza Lesufi.
The total $2.5 million USD investment in Johannesburg will cover funding to PROTEC to implement and grow the program, provide financial support for up to 150 Engineering Academy participants and funding for tuition for 800 youth to attend Engineering Camp. “Working with the GE Foundation is a key step to uplifting the lives of many potential engineers in Johannesburg while also contributing to the acceleration of the engineering industry. Through this collaboration we look forward to mentoring and exposing students to endless possibilities brought by the engineering sector and giving them an opportunity to turn their passion into a career in engineering”, says PROTEC CEO, Mr. Balan Moodley.
Across South Africa, while education has made vast improvements, particularly in the past 15 years, there remains various challenges regarding access to varying levels of education. The Next Engineers program starts with raising awareness as early as age 13 (grade eight), igniting interest throughout high school (ages 14 to 18), and alleviating financial barriers to higher education through financial support.
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