PE bright spark scoops science award

Bay pupil wins German study bursary with renewable-energy innovation

Brad Spies is ecstatic after receiving the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair award.
Brad Spies is ecstatic after receiving the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair award.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

A DF Malherbe High School matric whose bright idea for a cheap renewable-energy source was sparked by a power outage while he was studying has won a 3½-year bursary in Germany.

Brad Spies, 18, said he was in a state of disbelief after winning the International Technical Apprenticeship @Siemens award at this year’s Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair.

The fair concluded on Friday at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg.

Brad’s project, Spin-tacular, also won a silver award in the category of renewable energy (solar, wind, wave and hydro).

The idea behind the project is to make electricity accessible to all.

Brad said his idea came as a result of a power outage he experienced while preparing for his mid-year exams.

Using a tin can cut into bucket type blades, Brad created a wind turbine which scoops air into a calculated angle ramp that directs the wind into a set point, increasing the velocity of the blade connected to a generator to produce electricity.

The simple yet effective idea earned him the apprenticeship which will start in August 2019 in Berlin.

It will see Brad working as an electronic and mechatronics apprentice at the Werner-vonSiemens Vocational School and the Siemens Professional Education Lab.

While Brad said that throughout school he had always been engineering-inclined, he had opted to study for a senior-phase education degree specialising in mathematics.

“My only goal for the expo was to make it to the event in Boksburg. Winning the apprenticeship was an unbelievable blessing,” he said.

“I remember when they announced my name, all I wanted to do was call my parents.

“All my teachers, family and friends have been a big support, but a special thanks must be given to my grade 4 teacher, Mrs Engelbrecht, who taught me to be a free thinker – without her this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Brad said while he had already been accepted to study teaching at Nelson Mandela University, those plans had been placed on hold in light of the recent award.

He will be jetting off to Johannesburg in April 2019 to learn German before leaving for Berlin in July to begin in August.

His mother, Dawn, said she was still trying to come to terms with the sudden change of plans.

“It is an amazing achievement and we are all immensely proud of him.

“It is an opportunity which cannot be passed up and I know he will make a success of it,” she said.

Eskom Expo for Young Scientists provincial co-ordinator Chris McCartney commended Brad on his achievement, saying that all of the Eastern Cape competitors had exceeded expectations.

“We have a fantastic representation at the international fair, with the Eastern Cape producing some of the best results we have ever had.”