The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) inaugurated Brian Downie as the new President of the Institution at a ceremony held in Johannesburg on 29 November 2018.
Downie is the 116th President of SAICE since the inception of the Institution in 1903. He is a consultant with Royal HaskoningDHV, where he has held a variety of positions over the past 37 years in the Transport and Planning fields.
Downie’s Presidential theme for 2019 ‘It’s a New World’ is focused on Education, Entrepreneurship and Employment. These are all vital issues for South Africa. The primary focus on education will be achieved through the extension of existing initiatives with the Department of Basic Education where engineers will offer tutorial support to Grades 11 and 12, utilising new technology – now with the resources of 12 000 members of SAICE in support of this enterprise.
Downie states, “Today, with the advent of smart phones, we are proposing an ambitious relationship with the Khan Academy (supported by the Gates Foundation) which will offer a set of online tools to help educate students. The Department of Basic Education already has the Khan Academy videos translated into isiZulu and isiXhosa”.
In parallel with the schools initiative, Downie is proposing a strategic technology partnership with The MakerSpace Foundation that currently works with people from all ages and backgrounds, leveraging disruptive technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution such as 3D printers, to help people make things that improve the world around them. “By lowering the barrier of entry for people to develop their own solutions using technology, The MakerSpace Foundation is inviting the members of SAICE to become innovators, and to innovate for good”, says Downie. Google Impact Challenge, South Africa has recognised the importance of MakerSpace and is providing financial and logistical support to their ambition to expand from seven locations to 200 locations around South Africa.
Downie was chairman of the SAICE Durban Branch during a pivotal period in South Africa’s history leading up to the first democratic elections. He was subsequently appointed by the Minister of Public Works to assist in the formation of the Council for the Built Environment (CBE). This culminated in the Council for the Built Environment Act (Act 43 of 2000). He served on SAICE Council for seven years becoming Chairman of the Public and Internal Relations committee as well as Vice-President for Branches.
Downie has been active in a number of engineering industry organisations. In 2005 he was elected to the Executive Committee of Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) for a period of five years, serving as the Chairman of the Marketing and Communications Committee.
He is deeply passionate about the future that faces the youth of South Africa as the Fourth Industrial Revolution becomes a reality. In his current role as a hands-on user and a lecturer in 3D printing, he sees both great promise as well as peril. He believes we have a limited time in which to guide, educate and mentor young people in the technologies of the 21st century.
The third phase of the theme will empower young members to secure employment and to grow within the companies they work for. Downie is calling on our young members to assist in the development of these strategies. SAICE will continue to work for the good of South Africa – and all its members.
Issued by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)
For more information please contact:
Nadeena Le’ Tang
Tel: 011 805 5947