Young scientist, Brad Spies, who won an apprenticeship to study at an Academy in Berlin while participating in the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) back in 2018, says the once in a lifetime opportunity continues to be an amazing experience.
Brad, a former learner at D.F. Malherbe High School in Port Elizabeth, participated in the Eskom Expo ISF with an engineering project when he won a Mechatronics/Electronics apprenticeship at the Siemens Technical Academy in Berlin worth R1 million, sponsored by Siemens, along with a guaranteed job at Siemens in South Africa after completion.
The learner had developed an affordable wind turbine that manipulates the wind to generate electrical energy. His research concluded that there was negative wind that opposes the turbine to spin, and that 32 degrees was the best angle for the ramp for the most efficient manipulation of wind. Not only was the unit affordable and required no electricity, it was also environmentally friendly.
Brad embarked on his journey in Germany in August 2019, and says his studies so far are going very well, and that he enjoys learning a new topic every week.
“It has been amazing experiencing new technology and methods that are changing the way we think and work. I would to say my favourite part is working with like-minded people from all over the world,” he says.
“I love every subject from wiring to mechanical work, and everything in-between. I love programming and 3D printing. I don’t think I would be able to say which one I love more,” he adds.
The apprenticeship was an academic and vocational training programme, which afforded Brad an opportunity to take part in a high-level training course. During his time abroad, Brad learned valuable theory at the Siemens Professional Education Vocational School, and then put what he’s learnt into practice at the training centre in Berlin. He also had the opportunity to work on some of the most advanced digital technologies in the engineering field, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone and had a major effect on schools and training programmes. For multiple months we were forced to work completely online, which still worked for theory class, but didn’t help with practical experience. It took dedication to sit at the computer and listen. The biggest adjustment was learning to see my apartment as home after hours, but seeing it as my workplace during working hours”.
Brad says he had opportunities to return home to Port Elizabeth, especially for Christmas. “I love coming home, especially for the food. Germany and South Africa are very different, but luckily for me, I have had the privilege to enjoy the best of both,” he says.
The young scientist concluded that he remains grateful for the opportunity; that he will be embarking on a home country assignment sometime this year, and that he is excited to commence a career at Siemens Energy South Africa.