06 June 2024

Back (L-R): SAICE’s Sekadi Phayane-Shakhane with students’ Tshegofatso Golele, Divya Naidoo and Cheryl Lima Pérez from Eunice High School for Girls (second place); Fikile Mazibuko, Londiwe Sithole, and Yongama Tekete from Mpilisweni Secondary School (winners); Ntlantla Nkosi; Tumisho Moremedi and Dusty Marshall from Kimberley Boys’ High (third place) and SAICE’s Andrew Clothier.

Front (L-R): SAICE’s Dlozi Mnisi, Rene Nsanzubuhoro, Memory Scheepers and Zweli Mahlangu.

The recent finals of Aqualibrium, hosted by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), provided an exciting platform for students to immerse themselves in the world of water distribution and infrastructure. This annual event continues to highlight the significance of water management and the role of civil engineering in sustainable development.

Recently held at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, in May, the competition brought together student teams from various regions, including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Secunda, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Eswatini, Durban, Polokwane and Harrismith. The participants were tasked with designing, constructing, and operating a model water distribution network, simulating real-life challenges faced by civil engineers.

Memory Scheepers, project manager: special projects at SAICE, emphasised the competition’s educational value: “Participants confronted real-world engineering challenges, which not only enhanced their practical understanding but also underscored the vital importance of water conservation and smart infrastructure.”

This year, the event saw enthusiastic participation from schools across the country. The teams were judged on their ability to distribute three litres of water equally to three smaller containers on three different points on a grid using two pipe diameters and connection pieces. They had about two hours to plan, design, and execute their solutions, testing their ingenuity and teamwork under pressure.

The 2024 Aqualibrium winners are Yongama Tekete, Fikile Mazibuko and Londiwe Sithole from Mpilisweni Secondary School in Johannesburg, with only 9 penalty points. In second place were Cheryl Lima Pérez, Tshegofatso Golele and Divya Naidoo from Eunice High School for Girls in Bloemfontein with 23 penalty points. They were followed by Ntlantla Nkosi, Dusty Marshall and Tumisho Moremedi from Kimberley Boys’ High in Kimberley, with 29 penalty points, in third place.

The winning teams received prize money, and their educators were honoured for their support and dedication. The competition continues to inspire students, particularly those from rural and underprivileged backgrounds, to pursue careers in civil engineering and related fields.

Aqualibrium, supported by sponsors EW SETA, ENsync Engineers, MPAMOT, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and the SAICE Water Engineering Division, not only promotes STEM education but also aligns with government efforts to encourage students to engage in science and technology.

Since its inception, Aqualibrium has been recognised for its contribution to science communication and STEM awareness. The initiative was a finalist in the National Science and Technology Forum Awards, reflecting its impact on promoting engineering and innovation among young South Africans.

The Aqualibrium competition is a testament to the potential of our youth and the importance of nurturing their talents in science and technology. Through this initiative, we aim to contribute to the future quality of life for all South Africans by encouraging the next generation of engineers and innovators.

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