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South Africa: Solar-energy internship launched

Leading South African solar-heating company Suntank has launched an intensive internship program for engineering students wishing to gain exposure to the solar energy industry.
The programme is designed to accommodate students for periods of between three and six months and incorporate them into a multitude of development processes in the company.

The launch of the programme is part of a long-term commitment undertaken by the company to make a substantial contribution to the education of professionals in the construction and industrial sectors to develop a better understanding of renewable-energy technologies.

From an initial rate of one intern at a time, the company managed to establish a framework, which currently handles ten concurrent interns working and studying primarily at the company’s production facility in Silverton, Pretoria.

On arrival, the students are assigned to a mentor who guides them through one or more assignments allocated to them. Typically, the head of the engineering department will allocate assignments after consultation with the intern to match skills and requirements with company needs. SunTank will offers a full-board facility to interns, but does not offer a salary during the internship period. The assignments cover a wide range of disciplines, such as system design, industrial processes, quality management, research and development, and so on. South African tertiary education institutions currently offer no engineering degree specialising in renewable or environmental technologies and, as a result, no South African students currently benefit from the programme.

A company source expressed con- cerns regarding this state of affairs and called on government to take active steps in forcing universities to develop courses relevant to the energy needs of the 21st century.

“The development of a healthy solar-energy industry in the country depends on our capacity to develop world-class talent locally,” says the source.

SunTank is South Africa’s leading solar-heating company with interests and partnerships throughout Southern Africa, East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. The company consists of three divisions, covering manufacturing, marketing, distribution and installations of solar-heating systems, as well as construction and operation of clean-energy plants. SunTank engineers are involved in manufacturing and production processes, product development, solar installation design and implementation as well as quality-control processes.

The company adds that assignments to interns include project management and technical engineering projects, and are highly practical and hands-on.

Some examples include working with the ISO quality system team or the product research and develop- ment team.

Additional information:
News date: 28/07/2006

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