Supporting young scientists is the best CSI spend

June 3rd, 2014, Published in Articles: EngineerIT


Supporting the annual Eskom Science Expo for Young Scientists is more than spending a few thousand rand from the corporate social investment budget; it is an investment in the development of skills to support the future of South African enterprise.

More than 60 000 learners from schools in 26 regions around the country submit their science projects, exhibiting research, design, entrepreneurship, innovation and inventiveness at the regional expos, with over 1000 learners participating in the national finals.


Steve Apps, Chris Yelland, Gys Landman, Stafford Smithies, Levine Warries, Hans van de Groenendaal and Herman van der Walt.

Learners can discuss their work with professional scientists, judges, educators, learners from other schools, parents, and other interested community members. The expo is committed to the development of a strong base of educated and skilled South Africans in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The judging criteria are based on the scientific work and effort which go into the project, the initiative displayed and the scientific method followed by the learner, coupled with the quality of the findings and the scientific and technical skills which the learner develops. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded at the regional and national finals. A number of special awards recognise outstanding projects and selected learners are offered the opportunity to participate in international science fairs.

To stimulate the direct involvement of sponsors in Expo awards, Dr. Stafford Smithies, encouraged and supported by Chris Yelland, MD of EE Publishers, introduced the Kelvin Awards at the national finals of Expo after the Faraday Awards – originally sponsored by the London-based Institution of Engineering and Technology – were discontinued.  The programme was renamed the Hendrik van der Bijl Awards in recognition of Dr. van der Bijl’s contribution to science and engineering on many fronts.

Dr. van der Bijl founded Iscor and Eskom, and was also involved with the development of the radio valve. In 2013 local and international sponsors contributed R122 000 in prize money in addition to awards in kind such as a Raspberry Pi computer, equipment vouchers and an opportunity to qualify for a SKA bursary. Industry is challenged to match or better the 2013 contributions.

The Hendrik van der Bijl judges are drawn from donors and donor organisations so that each may not only be involved in the judging process but also have their special areas of interest covered. Logos of donor organisations are reflected on award certificates with special focus awards bearing the name of the donor.

To streamline the handling of award funds, EE Publishers will this year again administer the financial aspects of the awards programme free of charge. The Hendrik van der Bijl Awards organisers invite companies and individuals to invest in our youth by sponsoring awards for the 2014 Expo for Young Scientists National Finals to be held from 6 – 11 October 2014 at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.  Please help inspire our young scientists to strive for greater things and to consider adopting careers in STEM by joining the growing group of sponsors. Endow the future of your company and South Africa by investing in our youth! The 2014 Awards programme needs to be finalised by 31 August 2014 so please pick up the phone and make your commitment soon.

Contact Stafford Smithies, VSA Consulting, Tel 082 785-0195,

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