Exhibition inspired career in engineering

Hands-on participation in scientific games provided insight into scientific concepts. (Sasol)

Hands-on participation in scientific games provided insight into scientific concepts. (Sasol)

Barrend Pule, a mechanical engineer at Natref, Sasol's crude oil refinery joint venture with Total, says his whole life changed when he visited Sasol Techno X in 2002.

As a bright grade 10 learner at the Central Secondary School in Brits, the world of engineering opened up to this small-town boy when he visited a Sasol stand, where a young mechanical engineer explained the world of science, maths and technology to him.

Assisted by good career guidance at school, Sasol Techno X ignited his ambition to pursue a career in engineering.

Pule was accepted as a mechanical engineering student at Wits in 2005 and subsequently obtained a Sasol engineering bursary in his first year.

"Although I found BSc mechan-ical engineering a challenging course, if you love what you are doing and put your mind to it, it is possible to live your dreams," says Pule.

Platform for science
Sasol says that through Techno X it has created a platform for science enthusiasts to engage with the real-world application of science, mathematics and technology in a way that captivates the imagination - an imperative the company says is driven by its belief that the future is rooted in technology and science.

The 2012 exhibition, held from August 13 to 17, focused on displays, workshops, tours, talks and hands-on activities aimed at -enticing learners, students and the general public about the possi-bilities of science, mathematics and technology.

Launched 12 years ago, the -exhibition lets grade 7 to 12 learners to experience science and -engineering at a practical level. The 2012 event at the Boiketlong Sport Centre in Sasolburg was visited by thousands of learners from across the country discovered possibilities of a career in science, mathematics and technology.

"To understand our Sasol approach to corporate social investment, it's important to recognise that the starting point for all our initiatives is the communities within which we operate. We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the people and the government of the Free State and have colla-borated, over many years, on a number of important and influential -projects," says Vusi Cwane, Sasol's group general manager corporate marketing.

Teacher training
In addition to Techno X, Sasol has supported the Boitjhorisong Resource Centre by providing teacher training and learner support for more than 21 years.

"South Africa's sound macro-economic policies protected us from the brunt of the global economic- recession, but rating agency Standard & Poor's cited the skills shortage as a constraint to our growth potential.
This shortage is particularly evident in the fields of science, mathematics and -technology, which are also the areas in which South African -students rate poorly according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study," Cwane says.

Sasol employs approximately 33 700 people worldwide, most of them in technological roles, and  Sasol's support for Sasol Techno X aims to stimulate interest in the technological application of -science, mathematics and technology among learners, teachers and the general public.

Sasol Techno X is considered one of the premier career exhibitions in South Africa and offers learners the opportunity to engage with universities and other industry stakeholders on the practicalities of moving through course studies and bursary options.

"Sasol is also proud to partner with government and educational institutions to ensure that Sasol Techno X's impact and reach is maximised to benefit learners, teachers and the local Sasolburg community," Cwane said.  

Holistic view
As part of the exhibition that showcased the world of Sasol, the company's group community affairs department -provided a holistic view of Sasol's social investment -projects and shared information on how Sasol supports the communities in which it operates.

All activities at this stand were done in conjunction with Peace Players Inter-national, specialists in the field of life skills orientation and sport as a mechanism to unify the youth by providing guidance and support.

"Focusing in particular on environmental awareness and innovation for people this year, I trust that the Sasol Techno X 2012 will impact positively on the learners who attended, so they consider science- education and grow our pool of skills that will help South Africa reach its growth -targets, as set out by government," said Cwane.

National needs
"Sasol – and South Africa as a whole – needs well—qualified people to build and strengthen our eco-nomy- in an increasingly competitive global mar-ket—place.

The learners of today are the mathematicians, -scientists and engineers of tomorrow who will enable us to overcome poverty and reach the South African dream of a -better life for all."

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