By Cynthia Chiyabu Ngwengwe
Being innovative is a critical ingredient for staying on top and remaining a leading institution in the country because innovation is shaping the 21st century business ecosystem.
EIZ Immediate Past President Eng. George Sitali said this when he addressed delegates during the 2018 National Symposium held in Livingstone at the Avani Victoria Falls Resort under the theme “engineering for an innovative and competitive Zambia”.
“Our theme this year reflects growing recognition of the power and importance of bringing engineering minds together to find common solutions to engineering problems in the country,” he said.
He said EIZ is making headways in ensuring that engineering professionals have a platform to offer their innovative ideas and find common solutions to the many engineering challenges the country is facing.
Eng. Sitali said “The institution has always made itself available whenever called upon to offer engineering advice to the government on national issues through parliamentary submissions which we believe are helping government and contributing to the development of our country.”
He went on to say that the theme of the conference is a challenge for all engineering professional to offer their expertise in the development of innovation in the country and ensure that Zambia is competitive on the world map.
“As an institution, innovation is key and that is why we introduced the inventors and innovators forum aimed at giving a platform to emerging inventors and exposing them to key stakeholders that can have a hand in the development of their projects; and so far the institution has held two such events in collaborations with other stakeholders that have a direct hand in the development of innovation in the country,” he said.
He said the Institution also the held two business meetings that targeted fellows and CEOs of stakeholder institutions aimed at introducing mentorship and internship programmes for young engineers because it was noted that there was a very big gap between the young engineering professionals in the development process.
“The institution has also made headways in ensuring that young engineering professionals are given an opportunity to practice through internships to keep our next generation in line with the tenets of the fourth industrial revolution which is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, block chain, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the internet of things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles,” he said.
Eng Sitali said while the basic underpinning of engineering education remains familiar, the environment and context within which young engineering professionals will need to practice reflects challenges and opportunities that are unique to today because engineering has and always will shift its focus between applied and theoretical, hands-on and analytical approaches to meet the needs of the day.
He further said there is need to maintain a focus on technical and analytical excellence in the engineering profession.
“We need to lift our minds and have the creativity, intellect and courage to find ways to make engineering innovative and competitive for a better Zambia regardless of whether it’s in medicine or energy, computing, or transport – your involvement leads to products and services that make people’s lives better, healthier and safer,” he said.
Eng. Sitali further said innovation is crucial for maintaining the dynamism and resilience of the economy as future challenges are impossible to predict, but what is certain is that an economy better able to switch gears, innovate solutions, and re-deploy old activities, jobs, and industries will be least susceptible to adversity.