At Next Engineers, the GE City teams, global implementing partner FHI 360, and community partners all strive to measure the impact of our program in building the next generation of engineers. Even with all of our data collection and interviews and focus groups, we may still wonder if we're really hitting our target - a young person's educational development is a complex thing! So, we are very grateful to Johannesburg Engineering Academy student Bhekumuzi for sharing with us a letter of appreciation for Next Engineers. Thank you, Bhekumuzi, for reminding us why we do what we do, and showing us how the program has had an impact on you.
With Bhekumuzi's permission, we share his letter below.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the knowledge and skills I have acquired during my time in the Engineering Academy program. The program has provided me with an excellent foundation in engineering principles and helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed in my other projects.
I joined the Next Engineers: Engineering Academy in 2022. The Engineering Academy program has been nothing short of transformative for me. It not only equipped me with a solid foundation in engineering principles, but it has also nurtured my curiosity and problem-solving abilities. The hands-on experiences, challenging projects, and the guidance of passionate instructors (TAs) have been invaluable. One of the highlights of my experience was working on the design challenge Clean Streams, which challenged me to think creatively and apply what I had learned in the classroom to real-world problems. I also appreciated the opportunity to work with such a talented group of students and teachers. The skills I acquired in project management, teamwork, and critical thinking have proven to be essential not only in my academic pursuits but also in my professional and personal life.
This year I had an opportunity to participate in a competition. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy challenged my partner and I to come up with an invention or an innovative idea that will benefit the Mining and Energy sector. We got the briefing in February, and in May, we presented the project in the provincial competition. We secured first place in the province, and then we continued to represent Gauteng in Cape Town during the Learners Focus Week. My team grew to ten people in total. It was a roller-coaster trying to bring our idea to reality. However, due to teamwork, we conquered. I was responsible for building the project. I applied the engineering skills I learned in the program, from research, design, and all the way up to evaluation of the prototype. The College and Career Readiness lessons helped me in a mysterious way. I got to know myself and build my identity. It was easy to work as a team because of the leadership skills I acquired in the Next Engineers program. I want to recognize my team because they played a huge role in stepping up and pushing our prototype in the most crucial week where I was sick. We were doing a project for the mining sector which focused on the health and safety of the miners. In July, my partner and I presented the project - we had the privilege to present to many companies in the Mining and Energy sector - and came as runner ups nationwide. It was a very surreal moment and I realized that I indeed want to pursue a career in engineering.
I must also mention the support and camaraderie I experienced within the engineering program. The friendships I forged and the networking opportunities provided have been a source of inspiration and collaboration. It's heart-warming to know that I can still reach out to my fellow alumni, lecturers and program directors for advice or simply to share my achievements.
As I continue to pursue my engineering endeavours and explore new horizons, I carry with me the knowledge, skills, and memories from this program. Your dedication to providing an enriching educational experience has left an indelible mark on my journey, and for that, I am truly grateful. The design challenges and CCR activities have moulded me to become a very great prospective engineer.
Once again, I would love to recognize and give thanks to General Electric (GE), FHI 360, PROTEC, Kutitiva Foundation and the University of Witwatersrand for the incredible impact you have in my life. I look forward to continuing with this program and reach new horizons.