The Van der Bijl Awards at the 2014 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

August 29th, 2014, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize, Articles: EngineerIT, Articles: PositionIT, Articles: Vector, Featured: EE Publishers


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 a thousand learners participating in the national finals.


Tebatso Jack Senosha from Bokamosos Secondary School presented with his award in 2013 by EE Publishers Managing Director, Chris Yelland, for his entry “Prosthetic leg with powered joints”

Learners have the opportunity to discuss their work with professional scientists, judges, educators, learners from other schools, parents as well as other interested community members. Not only are learners increasing their awareness of the wonders of science. The expo is committed to the development of a strong base of educated and skilled South Africans in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

The judging criteria are based on the scientific work and effort that goes 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 that the learner develops. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded at the regional and national finals. Number special awards also recognize outstanding projects and selected learners are offered the opportunity to participate in international science fairs.

Honouring a giant in science and technology

To stimulate the direct involvement of sponsors in Expo awards, Dr. Stafford Smithies, encouraged and supported by Chris Yelland, 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 in 2009. Last year the programme was renamed as the Hendrik van der Bijl Awards in recognition of Dr. van der Bijl’s contribution to science and engineering on many fronts.

While Dr. van der Bijl is well-known for his founding of Iscor and Eskom, lesser known is his involvement in the development of the radio valve. In 1914 Hendrik van der Bijl arrived in New York to join the Research laboratories at the University of Chicago. At the time ATT had just acquired the patent rights to the Lee De Forrest’s audion valves and invited American Scientist Dr. Robert A Miilikan to recommend a person to improve these valves. The man was Hendrik van der Bijl. Through his considerable mathematical ability, Van der Bijl developed the “Van der Bijl Equation”, the basis on which this device worked. He made further discoveries that because of it non-linear current-voltage characteristics, the valve could be used for modulating high frequency continuous waves with speech waves. He worked on practical applications, and on 21 October 1915 carried out an experiment in the utmost secrecy transmitting from New York to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. For the first time on record human speech was transmitted in both directions by radio over a distance close to 5000 km.

The Hendrik van der Bijl judges are drawn from donors and donor organisations so that each sponsor 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. Sponsors will receive a confirmation letter of their sponsorship and details of the bank account to transfer the funds. A confirmation letter will be sent by EE Publishers.

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. Conntact Stafford Smithies on 082 785 0195 or, or Hans van de Groenendaal on 082 781 4631 or

Endow the future of your company and South Africa by investing in our youth! The 2014 Awards programme needs to be finalised early September so please pick up the phone and make your commitment.


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