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The Engineer’s Contribution to the Economy

Posted By Prof Leonard Masu and Andre Roos, Monday, 11 December 2017

Unfortunately for engineers, the vision for new projects often emanates not from engineers, but from politicians in municipalities, at provincial level, by government, state owned companies and entrepreneurs. Very often engineers are instructed to generate the solutions and they deliver - The many successful projects are proof enough.

Unfortunately, funding is limited and engineering projects compete with other endeavours for funding. As funds are limited, it is in the best interests of the country and all who live in it, that the projects with the best returns are selected. While the powers that be may be well-equipped to make these choices, engineers are seldom present and therefore do not influence these decisions. 

By participating in all walks of life, engineers can contribute even more to the economy and wealth creation, by participating and influencing these decisions in the selection of deserving projects, funded by limited resources. If we, the engineering community, stand up and are counted, by participating in all walks of life and we aim to play an instrumental role in influencing decision making, funding will be channeled to more productive projects, which in return will stimulate the economy even more.

We will influence decisions and our knowledge and skills will contribute significantly. 

In this way, as an institution, represented by our branches all over the country, we have knowledge of local conditions and should promote projects and ventures, which will most benefit our communities. Each SAIMechE branch can probably draw on more expertise than most companies, organisations, municipalities, provinces and government departments. Combined each branch probably has more expertise than the companies they work for!

The achievements listed here, are testimony to our contribution to the development and wellbeing of our society and the projects listed here also serve as a reminder of the role we have to play in the future. 

Industrial: Yskor (Mittal) – South African parastatal steel company founded in 1928 by Hendrik van der Bijl to supply the demands of local consumers. 

Sasol – First and largest oil-from-coal refinery (provides 40% of the country’s fuel). 

Coastal: The Dolos – These structures are designed to break up wave action and protect harbour walls, created by Eric Merrifield in SA in 1963-1964. 

Rail: The Scheffel Bogie – a unique railway Bogie allowing higher speed, less wear and higher load capacity on our unique narrow gauge railway lines. 

The Coal Export Railway line serving Ermelo to Richards Bay. The Iron Ore Export Line, running between Sishen and Saldanha Bay (opened 1976).

Agricultural: Dams and Irrigation Schemes - Orange-Fish Tunnel, completed in 1975, is the key structure by which water is delivered from Gariep dam to Teebus Spruit, Great Brak River and then
to the Great Fish River and Sunday River valleys.

The Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme is one of the largest irrigation schemes in the world covering 369.50 square kilometres in the Northern Cape Province. 

M-Net: (Electronic Media Network) - Established by Naspers for broadcasting local and international programmes.

Pratley Putty: Krugersdorp engineer George Pratley invented his famous sticky stuff in the 1960’s while looking for a glue that would hold components in an electrical box. Pratley’s glue is the only South African invention that went to the moon. In 1969 the putty was used to hold bits of the Apollo XI mission’s Eagle landing craft together. 

Pools: The Kreepy Krauly which revolutionised pool cleaning (invented by Ferdinand Chauvier in SA in 1974). 

By: Director Andre Roos, and Professor Leonard Masu

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