Alex’s Reflections

Looking back, the time in Cape Town greatly encouraged my growth. I learned about economics, starting small businesses, the current energy situation in South Africa, and methods of distributing products to low income communities. More importantly, I met a wide variety of people who, through our interactions, have changed my outlook on life. Finally, this project has taught me how important all forms of engineering are, and the ways that they positively change a person’ life.

The intellectual challenge presented by this project was much larger than I had originally anticipated. Creating a business model required extensive reading and knowledge of a number of concepts such as microentrepreneurship and various consignment models. These, coupled with the research into energy usage and energy products, have allowed me to grow intellectually.

This project also presented the challenge of collaborating with a large number of people to achieve a common goal. The many people I met from South Africa taught me how to effectively cope with this obstacle. Cape Town has a reputation for being a very laid back city. Spending two months there presented me, a person who was very goal oriented, with the challenge of working in this environment, but also taught me how to adapt to this. I learned to look at both the bigger picture and see the effects of our project and to also look at the smaller picture and get to know the people we were working with on a personal level. Also, working closely with a small group of people for over 4 months has greatly improved my group work skills and the way I approach group projects. These have allowed me to grow as a person.

Although the project is over, I still worry about the long term sustainability of the pilot programs and the impact our report will have. I have often found myself thinking about the people I met and hoping that they are able to continue doing great work for their communities and for The City of Cape Town. Overall, the Interactive Qualifying Project was invaluable and a great experience, and I cannot wait to return to Cape Town.