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Next Engineer programme to drive diversity in engineering

General Electric (GE) has announced their Next Engineer programme which will see a $2.5 million investment from the organisation for a global initiative focused on increasing the diversity of young people in engineering.

Earlier this year, GE committed up to $100 million to launch Next Engineers and the programme aims to increase the diversity of young people in engineering and reach 3,500 local students.

GE has selected Johannesburg as one of four inaugural locations, aiming to inspire more than 3,500 local students aged 13 to 18 in grade eight to twelve. The programme will provide first-hand experiences in in the field and award financial support to pursue further education in the field.

GE is partnering with PROTEC, a South African non-profit organisation that empowers local students to pursue and grow in STEM-based careers, to implement Next Engineers locally.

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Nyimpini Mabunda, CEO, GE South Africa: “Our growing global economy will require more engineers to solve society’s most pressing challenges – from sustainable flight to quality healthcare and clean energy. Next Engineers allows us to expose students to the world of engineering at a young age through invaluable hands-on learning experiences. Next Engineers will not only provide a platform for Johannesburg’s young people from different backgrounds to bring their unique perspectives to engineering but also empower them to foster the skills needed to build a world of the future that works. We recognise that for us to make a sustainable impact we must be deliberate in our efforts to support social change.”

Balan Moodley Chief Executive Officer at PROTEC, said they are thrilled to be working alongside the GE Foundation and taking on the role of Lead Partner for its Next Engineers initiative in Johannesburg. “It will transform the lives of so many within the programme, and of course, across the world, and we are excited to be a part of it. With an initiative like this, we aim to contribute towards changing the future of engineering.”

Next Engineers is a programme of the GE Foundation, an independent charitable organisation funded by GE. The Johannesburg cohort of Next Engineers will begin in January 2022 and will offer three age-dependent inspiring programmes to engage students on their paths towards becoming engineers:

  • Engineering Discovery: Students aged 13-14 in grade eight will be provided with multiple, short, one-hour exploratory experiences and hands-on activities connecting students to real engineers to increase awareness of engineering as a viable career. Sessions will be delivered by volunteers both in the classroom and in the community.
  • Engineering Camp: Students aged 14-15 in grade nine will develop engineering identities through a week-long immersive camp experience during school holidays. Students will interact with experienced engineering faculty and staff, complete design challenges solving real-world problems and interact directly with professional engineers and business leaders.
  • Engineering Academy: Students aged 15-18 in grade ten to twelve will enter a three-year further education readiness programme to guide and encourage them to pursue an engineering career path. The Engineering Academy will teach students to learn, think and act like engineers. This will provide 80 hours per year of out-of-school coaching, including longer challenges, a final year project, career coaching to expose students to different engineering pathways and further education-readiness workshops. Students accepted onto engineering apprenticeships or engineering degrees will also receive a funding contribution from the GE Foundation.

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Next Engineers will begin accepting applications for the Engineering Academy in January 2022. Students, teachers and the community can obtain updates and more information at www.nextengineers.org .

Nomvuyo Tena
Nomvuyo Tena is a Content Producer at Clarion Events Africa and is as passionate about the energy transition in Africa as she is about music and Beyonce.