RELEVANCE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING TO THE ENGINEERING COMMUNITY AND TO SOCIETY
Mission statement of SAAE
To promote the technological welfare of the nation by marshalling the knowledge and insights of eminent members of the South African engineering profession, elected by their peers.
Vision statement of SAAE
SAAE, a source of expert advice on matters pertaining to global competitiveness and quality of life for the nation.
The South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) is a young, growing, non-profit, independent institution with some 163 members (February 2011). It functions as a voluntary association under its own constitution and follows the model of Academies of Engineering in many countries around the world. The Academy comprises eminent engineers of all disciplines and related professionals with proven ability and achievement. It is able to take advantage of their wealth of knowledge and experience which, with the interdisciplinary character of the membership, provides a unique source with which to meet the objectives. The SAAE maintains relations with overseas Academies of Engineering and subscribes to the rules of the international Council for Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS). Co-operation Agreements have been signed and joint workshops / conferences have been held with the Chinese and the Australian Academies, with other countries to follow.
Value of engineering to society
- Throughout human history the engineering profession has been in the forefront of development. Its different disciplines are indispensable in the provision of basic infrastructure, services and technology, without which no meaningful improvement in the quality of life can be achieved.
- In recent times the competitiveness of nations has become highly dependent on their level of technological development. This has led the winning nations to form Academies of Engineering to supplement their Academies of Science established previously. In this way they have harnessed their most eminent engineers to provide the focussed and expert leadership needed to spur socio-economic development and international competitiveness.
- South Africa has a fine record in engineering development with outstanding achievements in various fields of engineering service to society (Mining, Petrochemical, Electrification, Transportation, Water Resources Management, Armaments, etc). This performance has to be nurtured as a national asset and even further strengthened.
- In an otherwise prospering global society the unfortunate reality is that South Africa, and even more so the rest of Africa, is burdened with immense and widespread poverty. Millions of people are unemployed, and desperately need basic support to facilitate their socio-economic development and maintain their human dignity.
- The engineering profession in South Africa is therefore challenged in three ways. The first is to remain in the forefront of international advances in technology to ensure our competitiveness, and to effect improvements in areas where it is necessary. The second, equally important, is to seize the boundless opportunity for serving mankind in great poverty both locally and throughout Africa. Few, if any, other regions of the world provide greater opportunity for the engineering profession to play a leading role in improving the quality of life and creating a legacy as imaginative as that achieved by some winning nations in the past. The third challenge is to effectively stimulate and support the process of empowerment, skills development and job creation.
Value added by the South African Academy of Engineering
- The South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) provides a platform for our most eminent engineers to apply visionary thinking and steer the use of the best brainpower of our engineering community to meet our national and continent's needs --- in the same way as Engineering Academies in the USA, UK, Australia, China and many other winning countries.
- The SAAE liases with the voluntary associations of the various engineering disciplines in South Africa as well as with similar Academies around the world to promote dialogue and technological exchange and to stimulate international trade.
- The SAAE is the only voluntary professional engineering advisory body that includes all major engineering disciplines in South Africa. As such it complements the statutory function of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and other single discipline Engineering Institutions. It could as in other countries provide direct factual advice and support at cabinet level on a variety of policy and implementation issues, based on facts related to development and international competitiveness.
- The SAAE concept and process can serve South Africa well in providing a motivating factor for young engineering professionals and in fostering their enthusiasm for making South Africa a winning nation.
- An engineering community supported by such a culture will become truly part of the solution to the country's key challenges both now and in the future. They will be stimulated to higher achievements and diligence because they can look forward to being called upon when their field of knowledge is needed for critical analyses of national problems. ("Let the SAAE get the ten best brains on a particular problem together from the total engineering community and ask them to research and report the facts under the guidance of the SAAE.")
- In order to ensure that the choice of the "best brains" will be a true reflection of South Africa the SAAE will include selected members of other professional bodies related to development within its membership and activities.
Value added by Government support
- The SAAE needs the support of an Act of Parliament in the same way as Academies of Engineering in many other countries. An Act provides formal recognition for eminence and brilliance in engineering associated with SAAE membership, opinion, advice and activities -- a unique professional reward -- and facilitates relations with other Academies of Engineering and international engineering bodies
- Government needs the Act to provide more effective access to the best engineering resources of the nation to support Ministers in policy
decision making. Such legislation provides the country with a multi-disciplinary resource of engineering experience and wisdom to serve the leaders of the day and the nation in a technologically driven and highly competitive global society -- something that cannot be provided by any other professional body in South Africa.