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Energize Masters of engineering are not always male
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Masters of engineering are not always male

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The growth in the number of female electrical engineers in South Africa is very encouraging. This field of study, which was for many years dominated by men, is now seeing more women with Master’s degrees filling senior positions. 

Both of these ladies work for IM Power, an engineering, procurement and project management contractor (EPCM) operating in the solar and energy storage industry.

Energize caught up with these amazing ladies recently and asked them about themselves and how they find working in what is still essentially a man’s world.

Topollo Mohlotsane

Linda Mashiri

 

Topollo Mohlotsane, originally from Lesotho; holds a BSc in biology and chemistry, and a PGDip in renewable energy studies.

Tell us a little about yourself?

TM: I am a 26-year-old Mosotho girl born and bred in Lesotho, a second and last born to my parents. I lost my father when I was two months old and grew up with my mom, brother and my aunt; and they are everything to me.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

TM: I wanted to be a medical doctor so I applied to almost every medical school after my first year of university. I finally ended up studying electrical engineering which has become my passion.

Describe a typical workday

TM: My typical workday normally starts at 07h00 and ends at 16h00. It is filled with solar PV system designs, data and tariff analyses, interrupted by a walk at lunchtime.

What do you love most about your job?

TM: Apart from it being an extremely exciting field, I am a renewable energy enthusiast, so being in the solar industry is a perfect fit for me.

What advice would you give to young women wanting to enter your industry?

TM: It is a very fast-growing and challenging industry, but extremely exciting and one needs to focus and keep up with the latest developments. You learn something new each day in this industry.

What are the trends in your industry?

TM: With decreasing costs of renewable energy technologies, the industry is growing at an alarming rate. These technologies are now considered the least-cost option in the power sector. Other aspects like an urgent response to climate change impacts and the use of artificial intelligence in the energy space have also enhanced this growth.

What are the challenges?

TM: Keeping up with the state-of-art. There are technology developments almost every three days or so, meaning that what was an ideal solution yesterday might not hold today. We are constantly learning.

 

Linda Mashiri holds an M.Eng degree in renewable energy and sustainable development from Stellenbosch University; and a B.Eng degree in electronic engineering from National University of Science and Technology. She is working towards a Master’s degree.

Tell us a little about yourself?

LM: I am a solar design engineer with over 5 years’ experience in the energy industry. Before moving to South Africa, I worked at Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company and Solartech Systems. I am 32 years old and married to Trevor.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

LM: When I was young, I wanted to be a pilot but that changed as I grew up and realised I wanted to be an electrical engineer.

Describe a typical workday

LM: My typical workday is more of sitting behind a computer in an office environment. I am into designing so my number one tool is my laptop and a calculator.

What do you love most about your job?

LM: I love working with numbers and playing around with solar panel layouts. Seeing my design work in office coming into a reality fascinates me. I always compare my design layout with the physical layout and it looks like a mirror image.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

LM: Never stress about anything, there is always a way out.

What advice would you give to young women wanting to enter your industry?

LM: Women can do it. Don’t be discouraged by anyone, if you can dream it you can achieve it.

What are the trends in your industry?

LM: The world is going green. Solar energy is now the way to go for affordable electricity and even those without access to the utility grid.

 What are the challenges?

LM: Engineering discipline is male-dominated so women have to prove that we can do it. If you fail, some people start to think it’s because you are a woman. People must remember that anyone can fail and make mistakes.

Send your comments to rogerl@nowmedia.co.za

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