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SKA engineer aims

Being given a chance to work on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

is an opportunity of a lifetime, which computer engineer Shagita Gounden has grabbed with both hands.

“I feel extremely proud to be part of this project that means so much to our country. As an engineer,

 it’s a tremendous privilege to be associated with this project and to work with a world-class team of scientists and engineers,” says Gounden.

Through the SKA, astronomers will be able to research when the fi rst stars were formed, whether or not there is life on other planets and how galaxies evolved, among others.

 In 2012 the SKA Organisation announced the SKA would be shared between South Africa and Australia.

The SKA will be the world’s largest radio telescope and will be 50 times more sensitive than any other radio telescope in the world.

Gounden, 31, who is originally from Pietermartizburg, is part of this exciting innovative technology, bringing her expertise as a computer engineer to the project.

She is part of the team that designs computer systems necessary for the development of the SKA.

Gounden joined the SKA team at the Cape Town office in April 2014 and says

the best part of her job is that it is challenging. She enjoys working with brilliant minds, which includes scientists and engineers.

“I work as a system engineer, involved in the design process of the SKA.

I am proud to be a South African woman who is a part of this titanic project and also making a signifi cant contribution.”

She says the work of a computer engineer depends on what environment and fi eld they find themselves in.

“Computer engineers are trained to work with both hardware and software.

I was drawn to the versatility of the profession. Primarily, engineers are problem solvers and they employ their specialities be it in chemical, electronics or computers to solve the problems faced by humanity.”

She adds that since high school she was drawn to the sciences because it challenged her the most.

“I became familiar with programming at high school and enjoyed the clean logic of creating software but I decided to pursue computer engineering

and not computer science because I wanted to work with hardware and electronics in addition to software.

“I was also attracted to engineering as it involves the application of science and technology to make real contributions to the community around us.”

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