YESA had a low-key presence at SciFest 2011 in Grahamstown in partnership with FischerTechnik. This partnership was to prove an important introduction to the newly launched My YESA Passport Lite Version.
A general observation from SciFest 2011 was that a significant proportion of the attendees had little or no exposure to the processes involved in engineering in general. 'Engineers work with engines' and they have little exposure to the broad range of possible career opportunities open to Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI). SciFest serves an important function in this regard.
Another important aspect that was shared with them was the importance of not ignoring the various trades as a career option. There has been a concerted drive, especially through radio advertising in the Eastern Cape promoting the fact that the country needs over 10 000 positions to be filled each year by qualified individuals in the different trades. These career choices remain low priority for learners who may have unrealistic expectations of their futures especially given the lowering on the pass marks for the Grade 12 examinations. An engineer working on the design of a bridge cannot lower the quality of their work because of a less demanding schooling system.
The role of women in the workplace, especially in the engineering sector was also actively promoted. Many girls showed an interest in the FischerTechnik simulation of a automated production line. Surprisingly it was the girls who were able to identify more possible career opportunities that were associated with the production line from mechanical to electrical, electronic, design, production and computer engineers. These processionals have to work with the likes of the electricians, mechanics and maintenance staff in ensuring the smooth operation of production lines.
YESA will certainly have to book a stand at SciFest 2012 and other educational shows in the near future in order to promote STEMI to the broader community.