“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered” Nelson Mandela.
Having just commemorated Nelson Mandela day, there was no better time to launch another South African legacy. On 5th August, Ilanga II was launched at a ceremony held by the University of Johannesburg (UJ). As an Alumni of UJ (then Rand Afrikaans University – RAU) I felt incredibly nostalgic returning to my old ‘home’ the other night to attend the launch.
As I walked from the Resolution Circle offices to the University’s auditorium reminiscing of my tenure at RAU with some of the team, Nickey Van Rensburg (Project Coordinator Department of Mechanical Engineering Science) reminded me of a quote by Nelson Mandela. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered”.
In many ways the physical structure of the University has stayed the same and although there have been a number of additions made to the Campus in my absence over the last decade, I can only see how I have changed and how important a project like the UJ Solar Challenge in setting a strong foundation and education for our country’s future engineers.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela.
This project acts as a podium to promote Engineering and the Faculty to schools, students, researchers and industry.
The UJ Solar Car Project functions as an educational tool developing young engineering graduates from all disciplines, by equipping them with the necessary skills and attributes to deal with real-world engineering challenges. It also serves as a research platform aimed at developing innovative and sustainable energy solutions that promote the international movement towards a green tomorrow. This enables the creation of a mutually beneficial environment where industry partners can interact with FEBE and students from UJ. RS Components South Africa has played integral part in the programme in partnering with UJ and Resolution Circle by sponsoring R 1 000 000 worth of stock to the project.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – In settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” Nelson Mandela.
Although the design of solar car at this stage for the general market is only a dream, engineering students are encouraged, through the project, to choose a technology or innovation used in the vehicle as a future career path.
Based on these collaborative partnerships and participation, Ilanga II has fast become an international brand, highlighting UJ’s global excellence and stature, multidisciplinary approach to teaching, and incorporating ideas and expertise from the fields of management, art, marketing, industrial design and engineering. A roadshow is planned in which the vehicle will be driven to and shared with schools across the country encouraging learners to consider engineering as a career and to endorse the importance of tertiary education.
By putting passion behind their fields of study and energy into a collaborative project like Ilanga II, students are most definitely not ‘playing small’, but rather creating pathways and opportunities into their future careers and the improvement of lives in both South Africa and abroad.
As we continue to innovate and reinvent ourselves throughout our careers it’s our foundations and spark that were born in bricks and mortar of educational institutes, such as UJ, that stay the same.