Simona Capparella comes from a family of engineers in Italy. From a young age she was destined to follow in her father’s footsteps and work her way up to being a reliable, dynamic female engineer.
“My father is a very respected engineer in my hometown, he was a teacher and started a career as a design engineer in Italy in 1990,” she said.
“Both my father and uncle were electrical systems teachers. They were the people who encouraged me to study engineering, and instilled a great love for this subject in me.”
Today, she is a senior electrical engineer in the building services industry. It has been quite the journey to get where she is today.
At the age of 16, Simona enrolled in an engineering high school in Italy where she studied electrical systems.
In 2008, she acquired an Honors degree in Safety and Protection Engineering in Rome, where she mainly studied Chemical Processes Engineering and Fire Protection Engineering.
Upon completion, she moved on to her master’s degree and began working as an electrical designer in the building services industry with her father, who mentored her in the profession.
“I earned my master’s degree in Safety and Protection Engineering with a focus on Safety in Electrical systems in 2012,” she said.
“I then started a second master’s degree in 2013 in Electrical Power systems.
“In 2015, before finishing my master’s, I decided to move to the United Kingdom to expand my engineering knowledge and work on international high profile projects.”
Her move saw her lending her skills to projects in Oxfordshire. She got an offer to work as electrical designer at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, one of the most famous neutron spallation research centers in the world.
During that time, she enrolled in the EIT Professional Certificate of Competency in Substation Design (Control and Protection) while weighing up her career options.
“I wanted to work in a commercial environment,” she said.
“At the time I wasn’t sure whether I would like to go back to the building services industry or start a new career in the power systems sector.
“Either way, I felt that in order for me to be more competitive in the market as a professional I would need to deepen my knowledge of substations, and in particular, earthing systems — which is a topic that has always fascinated me.
“The best way to achieve this was to attend an EIT course. Completing the EIT course definitely boosted my prestige as an electrical engineer.”
Two years ago, Simona decided to apply her electrical engineering skills to the building services industry.
She is currently working in Manchester in the United Kingdom at a company named BDP. It is a major multidisciplinary practice, of architects and engineers, which works in several building services sectors.
The qualification from EIT gave her CV the push it needed to rise above the rest.
“I believe that the EIT Substation course gave my CV a certain visibility in the pool, and helped me during the selection process for my current job”
She is also a contributor to the STEM Ambassador Programme in the United Kingdom, a position which she uses to encourage young people to pursue engineering careers.
EIT is thrilled to have been part of her journey and wishes in both her current and future endeavor.
Lonwabo Busakwe is an Engineering Institute of Technology graduate. He is working in the Renewable Energy industry, particularly within the wind turbines space with a company named Nordex and Acciona Windpower. He completed his 52726WA - Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Power Industry) with EIT.
His daily responsibilities include the service and maintenance of the wind turbines, the troubleshooting of electrical and mechanical faults, checking the SCADA systems, and generally working with electrical software tools.
Renewable Energy is a relatively new area of expertise for South Africa. The country’s energy sector is largely made up of coal power plants — which makes up 70 percent of the country’s mix.
Experts are calling for independent renewable energy power producers to flood the energy sector to teach and train South Africans in the way of new clean forms of energy.
Seeing an opportunity, Lonwabo sought out the Engineering Institute of Technology. He wanted to grow his skill set so that he would be prepared for the oncoming energy revolution in the country.
“For me, engineering is one of the career paths I liked most,” he said. As a result, Lonwabo has also begun studying EIT’s 52764WA – Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Technology.
“It brings out the best in me. I enjoy solving technical problems and thinking strategically.
“The Renewable Energy Industry is new in South Africa, so it’s very challenging and interesting to me. I am learning a lot of new engineering concepts.”
Lonwabo encourages young South Africans to follow in his footsteps and study a diploma or degree that can help them elevate themselves and help power South Africa. Lonowabo is now considering pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.
In the meantime he has acquired a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management. He is currently busy with his master’s degree in project management with only one module outstanding.
“The Advanced Diploma of Electrical Engineering has changed my life a lot, now I have the confidence within the electrical engineering industry because of the new skill set I have gained from EIT. My career is very promising and it looks so bright with this international qualification which I have obtained.”
Machine learning and artificial intelligence could be the key to simplifying project management.
As it stands, engineering project management is an arduous process. Many factors need to be considered, including project lifecycle, scheduling, costs, and quality management.
However, engineers in the Silicon Valley are coming to the rescue. Tara.ai is a project management platform that aims to enable product teams to be on time and budget. The company has just raised US $10 million in capital to continue its development.
A report by global management consulting company McKinsey, discovered that US $66 billion was “lost” across 5000 separate projects. This was due to them exceeding their lifecycles, poor planning, and the wasteful expenditure on the wrong kind of talent. Now one of McKinsey’s ex-employees, Iba Masood, is a co-founder of Tara.ai.
One of the more interesting features of Tara.ai is the recruitment section, which ensures the right people are working on each project.
“We realized that recruiting was actually the final decision you make, not the first, and we wanted to be involved earlier in the decision-making process,” Masood told Techcrunch.
“We saw a much bigger opportunity looking not at the people, but at the whole project.”
Once team members have been recruited for a project, Tara.ai can recommend the right people for each specific task.
On their website, the company explains, “with Tara.ai, you know the right person for the right task. Integrations create dynamic profiles for team members such as engineers and designers, so they can be easily recommended for tasks and objectives.”
This means the responsibility falls on the engineers to ensure their CV stands out when they are applying for jobs.
Steve Mackay, the Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, gives the following advice: “First of all, ensure your CV is designed for the particular job you are applying for. Most people think they can use a generic resume because they have to apply for lots of jobs. This is not advisable. Be specific! Focus on the job you really want. Your CV should also include business strengths and business wins.”
It’s important to note that while certain platforms can guide you through each project, machine learning and AI are still no match for a competent human project manager. The individual in charge of managing the project still needs to be driven and competent to ensure the project runs smoothly.
This is why the Engineering Institute of Technology offers an interactive three-month online course that specializes in helping students develop the required leadership and management skills to successfully oversee a project.
Project managers do not have to wait for the software that leverages the team’s time and expertise. Streamlined project management tools are already in existence. Cloud-based software communications and project management platforms like Slack or Atlassian Jira are helping projects move along efficiently across the globe.
Tara.ai is hoping that they can take it even further.
Lunden, Ingrid, and Ingrid Lunden. “Tara.ai, Which Uses Machine Learning to Spec out and Manage Engineering Projects, Nabs $10M.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 1 July 2019, techcrunch.com/2019/07/01/tara-ai-which-uses-machine-learning-to-spec-out-and-manage-engineering-projects-nabs-10m/
Ronil Shama is a recent Engineering Institute of Technology graduate. He earned his 52708WA - Advanced Diploma in Industrial Automation, adding qualifications to his CV and growing his skill set. He knew he needed to study Industrial Automation because he saw the face of the mining industry - the industry he has spent his entire career in - changing.
He started his career back in 1996 in Fiji where he was studying Electrical & Electronics Engineering at the Fiji Institute of Technology. During that time, with mining being an integral part of the Fijian economy, he was working with Emperor Gold Mining Company at the Vatukoula mine as a shift electrician.
In 2003, he went to work for Highway Electrical Limited in New Zealand where he filled a position as an electrician. In 2007, another career opportunity reared its head, which saw Ronil going to Mount Isa in Australia. There, he worked for Xstrata mine under Downer on a few projects.
He is currently working for Rio Tinto at the Ranger Mine in the Northern Territory. His daily responsibilities include preventative maintenance, preventing breakdowns, power generation and distribution, and project safety. He also works to improve the plant and make it more efficient, while coaching peers and supporting the engineering teams at the plant in general. Where he works, they have been mining Uranium in the middle of the National Kakadu Park for a couple of decades.
Ronil saw how technology began flowing into his workplaces in recent decades, and reckoned that he needed to stay abreast of the technologies flowing into the industry. He said:
“In order to study plants, their capabilities and their technologies, one needs to have a better understanding about systems. Hence, it was a no brainer to pick this course to advance and improve my understanding about such technologies.”
As automation has made its way into the mining sector, Ronil has been surprised by the technology that has come with it. However, he says that the newer and the older technologies work in tandem. Thus, Ronil has to be well acquainted with the old, and figure out how to control the new. He said:
“Our power station is 40 years old and we still have relay logics incorporated with Rockwell PLCs still operating our plant. We have DCs, PLC 5, Modbus, and newer Micrologix 500 systems in place. We have old and new technology combined to get optimum results. Technology has advanced so much in the last twenty years. It is fascinating as well as challenging for me to acquaint myself with new and old technology at the same time. Mastering these together helps me to achieve great output and results.”
Ronil has just signed up to the 52764WA - Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy through the Engineering Institute of Technology. He is setting his sights on being a fully licensed engineer and furthering his career. He said:
“If I manage to complete my graduate certificate in renewable technologies, I can work as an engineer in renewable sectors given my experience in the heavy industrial and power generation field.”
Festus Tawii was born and raised in Namibia. He is currently working for his country as a DC technician at NamPower, Namibia’s power utility. He is also currently studying with the Engineering Institute of Technology.
Festus’ story is one that speaks of rising above the odds and achieving success no matter the circumstances. He said, “I always wanted to be an electrical engineer, but did not have the finances to become one.
“My mother and my father could not afford for me and my older brother to both study. They helped my brother financially, but I had to take a vocational training route with help from a government bursary.”
He went to study general electrical courses at the Namibian Institute of Technology. Because of the practical nature of the technical vocational qualification, the institute sent Festus out on a six-month job attachment. A job attachment provides the tertiary student with the opportunity to combine what is being taught in the qualification with actual work experience.
Festus was an apprentice at a few companies before he settled at NamPower, Namibia’s national power utility. He takes pride in his role as a DC Technician at NamPower because the utility keeps the lights on for its citizens.
His daily work sees him providing assistance with the standby and storage protection equipment, ensuring that it is deployed when needed. This equipment is used to keep the power stations running if there is an electricity trip or outage.
Festus is currently studying the 52726WA - Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, completing his modules whilst working at NamPower. He also seems to be setting an example for his colleagues.
“My colleagues became very interested in what I was studying,” he said.
“I showed them what it was all about and now eight of my colleagues are enrolling with EIT. I am convinced that it will help everyone develop their knowledge and skills, and get them better positions in the workplace.”
Festus sees himself in a senior managerial role one day but knows there are more qualifications to acquire before he achieves this. Apart from the eight colleagues, Festus has already influenced, he recommends that more young people look to institutions like EIT that can help them succeed in their careers.
However, he says that not everyone follows the same path. He says that the government might not always be gracious enough to award a bursary to someone and that there are many pathways to success.
“There are steps that a person can take as I did. Starting with vocational jobs and studies, and then upskilling yourself with the money you have made. You need to start somewhere. Even if you are starting from scratch, you must keep your head up and keep going.”