Witsies bring the first prize home after taking part in supercomputing competition.

Two third-year female engineering students were part of the South African

Anita de Mello Koch and Kaamilah Desai were part of a team that consisted entirely of undergraduate students.

“We spent about six months preparing for this competition, putting in many hours of preparation, and winning the competition meant the hard work paid off. Additionally, it felt amazing to not only win this competition, but to win it as South Africa,” said de Mello Koch.

The students in the schools of electrical and information engineering, computer science and applied mathematics formed one of the few teams that comprised equal representation of men and women.

Desai told Wits Vuvuzela that she was definitely underestimated as a woman in the competition.

“It feels like often people think that when you’re a woman you get placed in teams or competitions such as this just because you’re female. You have to work hard and sometimes extra hard to prove you belong there based on merit and your abilities,” she said.

The 22-year-old expressed that sexism can be unconscious.

“It is difficult to overcome sexism when people are unaware of it or unwilling to accept that it is there,” she said.

The South African team competed against teams from the United States of America, United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Spain, Switzerland, Estonia and Singapore, and in the end walked away with the highest overall score.

Professor Estelle Trengove, head of school at the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, said: “I am tremendously proud of Anita and Kaamilah. Their achievement shows that our students are able to compete with the best in the world at the cutting edge of information technology”.

FEATURED IMAGE: Two engineering students participated in the supercomputing contest. Photo: Lwandile Shange