Doug Banks Renewable Energy Vision Trust awards first scholarship

Our colleague Dr Doug Banks, engineer, scientist, REEEP project coordinator, and a remarkable figure in the South African renewable energy community, died in 2008. The Doug Banks Renewable Energy Vision Trust (DBREV Trust) was formed later that year as friends and colleagues set about creating a living memorial to perpetuate his passion and vision through stimulating and nurturing the intellectual capital in the renewable energy sector.

Gabrielle Coppez, first recipient of the DBREV scholarship
Gabrielle Coppez, first recipient of the DBREV scholarship

A particular passion of Doug’s was the recruitment and mentorship of bright young engineers in the field of Renewable Energy so the purpose of the Trust is to raise and manage funds to support at least one postgraduate student each year from fields such as engineering, accounting and economics or the life sciences to study towards a Masters or PhD in Renewable Energy. This week we see the Trust’s first concrete steps as Gabrielle Coppez, an engineering graduate of the University of Cape Town (UCT), is the first recipient of the Doug Banks Renewable Energy Vision scholarship for post-graduate study in Renewable Energy.

The DBREV Trust intends to nurture intellectual capital by awarding the scholarship on an annual basis to a young graduate who exhibits not only strong academic ability, but a passion for realising the potential of renewable energy in meeting Africa’s energy needs. The scholarship will cover fees and living expenses for a two year period at a South African university, with additional funding for equipment, field work and research related travel. Ms Coppez will be registering for a thesis-based MSc at UCT.  She intends to develop a modelling tool to assist in determining the most appropriate mix of renewable energy solutions in any given rural area.

“The thing that really excites me about this is that it’s not just about funding someone’s studies, but that it’s about them being mentored, about them catching the dream, about them seeing how other people are already involved in this area and learning from them. I think that that makes this a really special scholarship,” she enthuses.

Ms. Coppez (24) graduated with honours from UCT in 2006 with a BSc (Mechatronics).  She has been employed since then as an Automation and Instrumentation Engineer with Marine and Mineral Projects in Cape Town. Through her community work with The Warehouse, a Cape Town based non-profit organisation and outreach work in Rwanda, Ms Coppez came to see the potential for renewable energy to impact on the lives of the disadvantaged in Africa.

“We are confident that in Gabrielle, we have found someone who will pick up the torch that Doug carried and carry the flame. The contest between the final shortlist was tight”, reports Dave Gale, chairman of the DBREV Trust, “but it was Gabrielle’s track record with community work, her empathy for rural Africa and her willingness to in turn mentor others that clinched it for her”.

DBREV logoFor further info or to see how you could contribute to the DBREV Trust’s work through mentorship or funding you can contact the Trust through their website.

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