The GE Foundation's Next Engineers is a global program aimed at readying youth for college life and careers in Engineering. Engineering Discovery, aimed at exposing Grade 8 learners to the vast field of engineering, Engineering Camp, an immersion program for Grade 9 learners, and the Engineering Academy, a college-readiness program for Grade 10 learners, are the three programs that make up Next Engineers. Grade 10 learners who are enrolled in the Engineering Academy are carried through the last three years of their high school. Those who complete the 3-year program are eligible for a bursary from the GE Foundation to further their studies in any field of engineering.
On the 19th of February 2022, the qualifying learners were invited for a selection test that was set to take place at the University of the Witwatersrand in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The selection test was comprised of a written Mathematics and English test, a Psychosocial test, and a Practical test. This was to test the learners' inclination to engineering and also their ability to interpret instructions and guidelines and apply them to a practical design. The learners had to design a functional wind turbine, test it, and optimize it to obtain optimal performance.
For one learner in Letsibogo Girls High School, this opportunity to just be called for selection came as an exhilarating shock. She had been applying to other programs, but was never accepted. "I had never been accepted in any program I applied for. I was both shocked and excited when I received a call inviting me to the selection test. Before even being accepted into the Academy, I feel honored just being here for the selection test," she said. The program has awarded a lot of learners who are often not exposed to such opportunities a chance to show their capabilities. The practical design showed their dexterity and determination as some of the learners' optimized designs performed above the minimum speed.