Women in Engineering event sees women sharing their inspiring journeys

[Article by Amber Viviers]

Women engineers, academics and students in the engineering field recently shared their encouraging stories at the annual Women in Engineering event presented by the Faculty of Engineering of Stellenbosch University (SU).

Around 150 Grade 10 – 12 female learners who excel in Mathematics and Physical Sciences attended the event to learn more about engineering as a career for women. The event has been occurring since 2004, except in 2020 and 2021, when it was cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Guest speaker Mia Gous captivated the learners while sharing her career journey. After graduating from the Faculty of Engineering Faculty at SU, she moved to Saldanha on the West Coast to work at Namakwa Sands, after which she moved to Ireland before becoming the CEO of a copper mine in Chile, South America.

In 2021, she immigrated with her family to Australia, where she started working at Newmont Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company. In August this year, she was appointed as the senior regional Vice-President of the company.

Mia’s message to the girls was strong: “Women deserve to take their place in the engineering industry. They don’t have to step back for anyone.”

Another alum that motivated the learners was Renette de Villiers, who is making waves in the traditionally male-dominated British motorsport industry. She works as a project engineer for engineering consultancy Performance Projects at Silverstone Park, a technology hub near the famous Silverstone Circuit.

During her talk titled, Engineering took me to Antarctica; imagine where it can take you, Prof Annie Bekker from the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering shared her expedition to Antarctica. She also revealed her love for rap music as she performed a special message that girls also belong in the engineering field.

Two current students, Elaine Nyamayaro (Vice-Chair: Engineering Student Council) and Sandri du Plessis (Chair: Engineering Student Council), spoke about their experiences as engineering students from undergraduate and postgraduate perspectives. They emphasised the importance of finding a balance between “working and playing hard”.

Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Dean of the Faculty, welcomed the learners while Prof Celeste Viljoen, Vice-Dean: Teaching and Quality Assurance, addressed the girls on why they should consider studying engineering at SU. Dr Margreth Tadie from the Department of Process Engineering was the programme director.

???? Click here to watch the video (duration: 1.45 min) of the event, or

Photograph: Future engineering students attending the Women In Engineering event at the Faculty of Engineering.