The Community Engagement Office under the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research Innovation and Engagement (DVC: RIE) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in partnership with their social partner, the Umkhumbane Schools Project (USP), hosted a Youth Day commemoration event, recently.
The event was targeted at high school students who are part of the Architecture and Engineering Development Programme for Learners formed by the Community Engagement Office and the USP.
The Architecture and Engineering Development Programme for learners look at exposing high school learners to careers and opportunities in the architecture and engineering fields. The programme is offered to learners in the Ukhumbane area, who have an interest in pursuing careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) arena. The programme currently has learners from Bonela Secondary, Umkhumbane Secondary, and Wiggins Secondary schools.
Guests at the event were welcomed by Ms Phumzile Xulu, the Community Engagement Practitioner at DUT and she thanked the learners for their participation and the guest speakers for accepting the invitation to share with the learners their journey as students and professionals in the fields of architecture and engineering. She said that it was important for learners to decide their careers early on so that they can choose the subjects that they need to pursue those careers.
“There is still a shortage of qualified or experienced architects and engineers in South Africa and as a result, they have been included in the critical skills list. This requires institutions like DUT to support learners interested to gain access to these fields,” she said.
The event featured young and prominent speakers from the architecture and engineering fields, namely: Ms Xoliswa Feikie, a Civil Engineering lecturer at the DUT; Mr Mfundo Maphumulo, the co-founder and lead architect of Iqhayiya Design Workshop; Mr Muhlephethe Dlamini, the chairperson of the SAICE DUT Chapter; and Ms Kamo Mngomezulu, a third-year architecture student and mentor in the DUT Engineering and Architecture Programme for learners. The Programme Director for the day was DUT’s Civil Engineering student, Ms Nosihle Mabuza.
The guests shared inspiring stories of their journeys from their days in high school through to their university experiences and professional careers. Many of the guests share similar backgrounds with the learners, which created a stronger sense of inspiration and motivation for them. A keen curiosity was evident in the faces and expressions of the learners, as they excitedly engaged with the guest speakers and DUT staff on a multitude of various topics from innovations in engineering to the plethora of advice that the guests had for the young individuals hoping to break into these fields.
The learners were also given information on the requirements needed to qualify for engineering and architecture courses at DUT, whilst motivating those who felt like they were currently struggling in the gateway subjects (such as mathematics and physics), that would ease their entry into these programmes.
This workshop forms a part of a series of workshops that the Community Engagement Office will be hosting for these learners, under their current programme. This programme aligns with the DUT’s ENVISION2030 perspective of Society. It recognises that encouraging our staff and students to be engaged citizens will not only better our communities but produce more robust and conscientious graduates.
Pictured: Guest speakers at the event.