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Aurecon helps pique learners’ interest in aerospace, robotics, and engineering

 Aurecon funded the structure on which the aircraft laboratory stands at Lanseria Airport in north-west Johannesburg.

The aircraft being transformed into a STREAM laboratory for Sakhikamva at Lanseria Airport

05 April 2019 – South Africa is faced with a critical shortage of pilots, engineers, scientists and technicians in the aerospace industry. It is for this reason that global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon, recently helped fund the conversion of an aircraft into a laboratory for Sakhikamva.

This non-profit organisation (NPO) supports young South Africans’ interest in Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aerospace and Mathematics (STREAM) subjects. Aurecon funded the structure on which the aircraft laboratory stands at Lanseria Airport in north-west Johannesburg.

Sakhikamva ‒ Xhosa for ‘building a future’ ‒ was founded by Fatima Jakoet, who became the first South African Muslim female pilot to fly commercial aircraft in 2002. The NPO is based in Cape Town, where the first STREAM Laboratory was launched in 2015.

Aurecon became involved in the STREAM Laboratory project because it is aware that a country’s education system doesn’t automatically produce the resources that its industries need. The company believes the private sector must play a role in ensuring the right skills are available to sustain the country’s growth and future success, and is deeply committed to helping uplift the sector and society in which it operates.

“South Africa is faced with a critical shortage of skills within the aerospace industry. If concrete measures are not implemented soon, the general lack of technically skilled capabilities in the workplace will deteriorate even further with serious consequences,” says Andile Skosana, Aurecon Client Director – Government.

Skosana met the founder of Sakhikamva, Fatima Jakoet, at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) Expo last year, after Jakoet had approached Aurecon to see if they would get involved with the planned STREAM Laboratory for Gauteng.

“Fatima has worked with more than 90 000 young people in South Africa. As a future-ready company that excels in digital engineering, I knew that Aurecon’s skills, time, and money could be put to good use here,” says Skosana.

After starting her career as commercial airline pilot in 2002, Jakoet currently operates the Airbus A320 and is based in Cape Town.

“We are deeply grateful for the funding we have received from Aurecon to launch another STREAM Laboratory. Sakhikamva believes that the future of South African aerospace is anchored within our country’s highly talented youth. The new laboratory will help us develop this talent to ensure that a solid foundation is laid to feed the Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aerospace and Mathematics pipeline,” comments Jakoet.

At the launch, 15-year-old learner Mpho Letseng won a model plane during a lucky draw. Letseng says he wants to be a mechanical engineer one day.

“I would like to pursue a career in mechanical engineering and I am taking STREAM subjects this year. The STREAM Lab means a lot to me and my future. I feel very fortunate to have attended this launch,” said Letseng.

Aurecon’s Senzekile Mdluli, BBBEE & CSI Manager, says that the Sakhikamva project is aligned to Aurecon’s aspiration to support young South Africans’ interest in STREAM subjects.

“Growing interest in these subjects is not only an investment in our society but also prepares a future workforce that companies such as ours will continue to benefit from. At Aurecon, we believe that learners with these skills will undoubtedly be leaders in the technical fields that we serve and support. We look forward to seeing the amazing things that the learners at Sakhikamva’s STREAM Laboratory come up with,” comments Mdluli.

The new STREAM Laboratory will see disadvantaged children from the Diepsloot and Lanseria area attending classes at the facility three times a week.

According to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released in 2017, South Africa’s aviation industry supported at least 490 000 jobs and added approximately R155 billion to the country’s GDP.

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