2007-2008 Annual Report

10th ANNUAL REPORT

1 APRIL 2007 – 31 MARCH 2008

Dr P W B Kruger
President

Introduction

The SAAE 9th Annual Report stated:
“South Africa lags far behind leading countries in the development of human capital in science and engineering. School leavers from these fields are not only too few in number, but are also ill-prepared and suffer from the impact of a shortage of adequate teachers. Corrective action is also required to increase the number of engineers graduating from our universities. A comprehensive and overall master plan has to be implemented. All levels have to be addressed. The solution has to coordinate the many worthy efforts of the nation-at-large with the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) which is probably the best home for the total initiative.”

SAAE responded to this national need by organizing a closed International Workshop on the Engineering Skills Shortage on 3 and 4 March 2008 at the University of Pretoria. The Workshop formed part of the Centenary Celebration Programme of the University and was sponsored by Anglo American PLC.

The Academies of Engineering of the UK, India and Australia, Fellows of the SAAE, representatives of JIPSA, individuals from tertiary education institutions, South African Engineering Institutions, the relevant Government Departments, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), parastatals, trade unions and other important stakeholders from the private sector were invited to attend and contribute to the Workshop.

A report on this successful Workshop and all the presentations together with some photographs, can be seen on the SAAE website.

Exco and AGM Meetings

Four Exco Meetings took place during the Financial Year 2007/2008: 16 May 2007, 22 August 2007, 14 November 2007 and 30 January 2008. The 10th AGM took place on 30 May 2007.

Membership

The following new Fellows were elected at the AGM held on 30 May 2007:

Name

Position

Nominator

Willem Hofmeyr du Preez

Consultant, PBMR (Pty) Ltd

Dr Bingle Kruger

Dr David Gordon Hulbert

Assistant Director, Mintek

Prof IK Craig

Prof Johannes Hendrik Knoetze

Deputy Dean (Teaching), University of Stellenbosch

Proff Lorenzen &
Schoonwinkel

Danai Ellarin Magugumela

CEO, BKS

Prof R Sandenbergh

Dr Tshilidzi Marwala

Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and control Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand

Prof IK Craig

Felix Ndlovu

Projects Director, Transnet

T T Goba

The Induction Dinner in Gauteng took place on 28 June 2007 at the Conference Centre of the University of Pretoria. Fellow Con Fauconnier, CEO of Exxaro Resources Ltd was the guest speaker on the topic: “The contribution of the minerals industry to the future of South Africa” (see www.saae.co.za for the presentation). SAAE acknowledges with appreciation the sponsorship of the dinner by Exxaro Resources Ltd. Four new Fellows were inducted i.e. Fellows Du Preez, Hulbert, Magugumela and Ndlovu. Fellow Glasser who could not attend the 2006 Induction Dinner, was also introduced.

The Induction Dinner in the Western Cape took place at Kelvin Grove Club on 28 August 2007. Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, was the guest speaker on the topic: “Scarce Skills: Implications for training Engineers”. SAAE gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship of the dinner by the University of Cape Town. New Fellows Knoetze and Marwala were inducted. Fellow Alexander, who could not attend the 2006 Induction Dinner, was also introduced.

INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

CAETS

The Japanese Academy of Engineering hosted the Annual CAETS Meeting from 23-26 October 2007 in Tokyo with the topic “Environment and Sustainable Growth” It was not possible for SAAE to send a representative to attend the meeting in Tokyo but Exco has decided to send a representative to the CAETS Meeting in Delft, Holland in June 2008.

Academies of Engineering at SAAE Workshop

Three Academies of Engineering were invited to take part in a closed SAAE International Workshop on the Challenges of the Engineering Skills Shortage held in Pretoria on 3-4 March 2008. Their contributions are listed below:

  • Royal Academy of Engineering: British Perspective – Prof David Nethercot OBE FREng, Head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College, London.
  • Indian National Academy of Engineering – Asian Perspective: Employability of Engineering Graduates – Issues and Concerns – Prof R Natarajan , Former Vice-President, INAE
  • Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering – Australian Perspective – Mr Peter Laver AM FTSE, ATSE Vice President

All these Presentations and related discussions have been of great value to SAAE and to the success of the Workshop. (See the News on this website.)

Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) review of South Africa’s Innovation Policy. At the request of NACI, Fellows Kruger, Marcus and Sandenbergh attended a joint OECD/SA Stakeholder Workshop on 31 July 2007 to draw main conclusions and develop an action plan from the National System of Innovation Peer Review Report by the OECD. SAAE in this way contributed to the work of building an efficient and effective National System of Innovation in which both the business and public sectors can thrive.

LOCAL ACTIVITIES

The SAAE Draft Bill has been finalized in meetings between SAAE and DST, but takes much longer to go through the process of enactment than was anticipated. In March 2007 the DST consulted all the relevant Engineering Institutions on the contents of the Draft Bill. The closing date for comment was 7 April 2007 and the planned programme of the Bill was for final enactment in Parliament in October 2007. The Department of Public Works (DPW) then suggested that SAAE should rather be incorporated in the Engineering Professions Act and thereby become part of ECSA in DPW and not be placed under the management of DST. Negotiations between ECSA, SAAE and the two Departments have not reached finality and now may have to be deferred to be attended to after the 2009 national election. During the negotiations SAAE made a study of the concept of “Independence” as applicable to SAAE at the request of DST. The support of ASSAf for the SAAE Draft Bill and independence through a Memorandum to DST is greatly appreciated.

The Annual Hendrik van der Bijl Memorial Lecture 2007

was presented at the University of Pretoria on 30 May 2007 by Fellow Jack van der Merwe on the topic “Gautrain”. The address presented the planning rationale, design, funding and construction procedures of the R26 billion project and its impact on the urban region of Gauteng. The presentation was very well received and is available on ths website.

Technology Top 100 Awards (TT100), 21 February 2008. SAAE, as an official sponsor of the TT100 Program, supports hereby a means of encouraging innovative technological development which is necessary for South Africa to compete in the global economy. Three SAAE Fellows assisted in the adjudication process.

CBE Control

SAAE commented on and opposed the proposal by DPW to take away the statutory status of ECSA and put ECSA and all the voluntary institutions related to ECSA under the control of the Council for the Built Environmen (CBE).

Greville Wood Housing

SAAE convened a meeting between Business Unity South Africa, representatives from Government, SAAE and Greville Wood to take key decisions on the latter’s concept of establishing housing manufacturing facilities in deprived areas. It was resolved that a technical panel would be convened to explore further details of the manufacturing process as proposed by Greville Wood . The Academy undertook to provide representatives sitting on this expert panel.

World Bank Study

The Africa Region of the World Bank has been working on a research study named “Migration: Remittances and Brain Drain in Africa”. SAAE assisted the group to identify important sources of information related to the topic.

TRAC

SAAE through its Exco member Fellow Fred Hugo receives quarterly reports at every Exco Meeting of the excellent performance and growth of the privately funded TRAC (Technology Research Activity Centre) as a national Physical Science Intervention Programme. TRAC seeks to improve the knowledge of teachers and also enable and encourage learners to enter into careers in science, engineering and technology.

GENERAL

The growing challenges facing South Africa in 2008 call for again stressing the closing statement of the 2007 Annual Report:
“Worldwide Academies of Engineering are playing an increasing supportive and consultative role working in concert with governments, business and academia. In most developed and developing nations, Academies of Engineering are deemed to be so important that they report directly to the office of the Head of State. As South Africa braces itself to face the biggest challenge in its history, the South African Academy of Engineering is steadfast in its belief that it is well poised to meet its stated objective in serving the best interests of the country. Time is not on our side. The challenges facing the country in terms of infrastructure and economic growth in the face of a critical skills shortage is such that the Academy needs to be in a position to harness its resources and support the ASGISA initiative. To achieve these goals, two critical elements need to be in place: the full support of government in terms of speeding up the process in getting the new SAAE Act in place and the support of the business community. The latter is in place, key business leaders who are distinguished technology leaders as well, are Fellows of the Academy. Now government needs to play its role in accelerating the legislative process.”

2008 Annual General Meeting
SAAE, 28 May 2008.