Opportunities abound for Mechatronics Students in the Renewable Energy Sector

The renewable energy and engineering sectors have received a boost through a recently launched scholarship programme, which has seen well over two million rand invested to develop young engineering students for this nascent energy industry. Globeleq South Africa Management Services, in its capacity as the management services company of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, Droogfontein Solar Power and De Aar Solar Power, launched this programme to help meet the demand within the industry for qualified engineers. “It is our hope that through this programme we will not only be able to create a skills pipeline for our organisation, but also support and contribute to the industry and the country as a whole,” explained Mark Pickering, Managing Director of Globeleq South Africa Management Services.

This scholarship programme enables aspirant engineers from around the country to acquire the qualifications and skills demanded by this budding sector, particularly in the field of mechatronics – an inter-disciplinary field, combining traditional electrical, electronic, mechanical, control and computer engineering skills.

According to Pickering, “The recent announcement by the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, concerning the addition of 6300MW to the Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme, means that there will be an increasing need for qualified specialist engineers now and into the future.”

The two million rand invested in the programme covers tuition, daily living expenses and learning expenses such as books and materials. In 2014, the company initiated the programme nationally through universities offering mechatronics, namely; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Stellenbosch, University of Cape Town and Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Over 150 applications were received from which 25 beneficiaries were selected.

In addition to this, some of the students will have the opportunity to apply what they have learnt through a 12-month on site internship as the scholarship includes a service obligation. The next round for scholarships will be made available through the identified universities in September 2015 for students from their second year of mechatronic studies.

“With the growing demand for electricity in South Africa and on the continent, we would like to play our part in helping to provide more qualified and skilled engineers,” concluded Pickering.

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