Onke Ngacu, a Technologist at Engineering & Architecture company GIBB, has been appointed Chairperson of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering
for the Amathole (East London) region – the first black woman to hold the position.
Ngacu has committed herself to upholding the SAICE mission of advancing professional knowledge and improving the practice of civil engineering. The organisation does this by holding regular talks, facilitating training and skills upgrades for its 315 local members and through events for school learners to encourage them to study engineering.Of the engineering industry as a whole, Ngacu said there was still a need to change the legacy culture so that the field becomes more accepting of women in a cultural and a practical sense. “It is exhausting for women to have to constantly prove themselves,” she said.
She said another industry challenge was a lack of structures to absorb new engineering graduates into the workforce. “We need to be more open to employing black diploma and B.Tech graduates, and to make sure they have clear career paths through to eventually registering with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).”Another priority is being part of the Walter Sisulu University advisory board, to ensure the institution’s engineering faculty retains its ECSA accreditation. “WSU is a rich source of black engineers for our industry in the Eastern Cape,” she said. “It is important for the university to remain accredited and to build recognition for itself.”
Despite these industry challenges, Ngacu said there has been progress and that working at GIBB – a black-owned company – is deeply fulfilling. “Over my 11 years at the company, I’ve had the honour of seeing projects right through from inception to close-out, and felt the satisfaction of seeing clean potable water emerge from a tap after working on a water project for years.”
To women looking to succeed in engineering, she had one message: “Don’t wish for it. Work!”
More information from Andiswa Dlokolo, Tel: 011 519 4600 / [email protected]