SAIEE: Invest in the youth to reap future benefits

March 27th, 2015, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize, Articles: EngineerIT


A call to invest in the youth was the strong message delivered to the members of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) by incoming president André Hoffman in his inaugural lecture titled “Back to the future: let’s pay it forward”.

Dr Pat Naidoo, SAIEE Outgoing president handed over the chain of office to André Hoffman

Dr. Pat Naidoo, SAIEE outgoing president handing over the chain of office to the incoming president André Hoffman

He was handed the chain of office by the outgoing president, Pat Naidoo, at the institute’s Annual General Meeting held at Megawatt Park on 26 March 2015.

A century ago, when Dr. Bernard Price became president of a fledgling institute that was only six years old and had been through a World War, Price said in the closing statement of his inaugural address that the institute could perhaps do something more than was being done in the terms of advising and assisting youthful engineers on matters pertaining to their advancement.

Dr. Price’s message is as relevant today as it was in 1915. It is all very well fixing what is broken now and addressing the “crisis” (the urgent); but if we are to achieve long term sustainability we also need to invest in some long term instruments (the important).

“It has been said that a man begins to understand the meaning of life when he plants a tree under which he knows he will not sit. Let us make sure that in the portfolio of projects and investments we go forward with, that we set aside a meaningful investment for the future. Let us be reminded of Price’s admonition to the institute 100 years ago. André Hoffman expanded this idea, when he started the journey as an office bearer in 2012, to broaden the definition of “youthful engineers” to include the budding engineering talent percolating in our schools. He said that these are our future engineers.

“In 2013 Paul van Niekerk reminded us to focus on “skills development and professionalism towards infrastructure development”. A timeous message given the national imperatives in the National Development Plan goals. In 2014 Dr. Pat Naidoo motivated us towards building a world class South Africa through strong membership and a customer focus.

“So here we are in 2015 and we take the baton on the next lap. You have heard it said. ‘The future isn’t what it used to be’ (Yogi Berra) and a quick review of technology development over the last century reveals an ever increasing pace of advancement. Of course the improved quality of life has come at a price as we see the effects of climate change and environmental damage threaten our very existence on the planet”, said Hoffman.

“Besides the electricity supply deficiency, there is another supply deficiency that threatens to be even more socially disruptive and unpleasant. Of course all this means little if we unbalance nature and the environment itself in achieving all this, or more likely that we further increase the economic gap between the haves and the have-not’s. There is a very real danger that the power of technological advancement will continue to do what it does best – eliminate jobs as more can be done with less human intervention. Think for a moment what the implications of that are to our already strained social structures.

“I don’t have the answer to this, it is a global phenomenon. However I suspect the way out of it lies in a good education system and specifically in stimulation of young minds towards engineering options as early as possible in their development.

“I want rather to make the case for taking a ‘longer view’ on things in order to get a better more rational perspective on the challenges we face in 2015. In the same way that we have to make difficult decisions on the distribution of scarce resources (like our incomes) we should also set aside an allocation towards our long term well-being. Let’s build a future we all want to live in”, said Hoffman.

To read André Hoffman’s full address click click here


Related Tags

Related Articles

  • South African Government COVID-19 Corona Virus Resource Portal
  • Ministerial determinations propose 13813 MW of new-build by IPPs, none by Eskom
  • Crunch time for South Africa’s national nuclear company, Necsa
  • Dealing with the elephant in the room that is Eskom…
  • Interview with Minerals & Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe