Cecilia Haak

Dropping out of MIT was the best decision Cecilia Haak ever made. After a month of working towards a master’s degree in Aerospace, she left, with a vision of doing work that would be meaningful to her country, South Africa. She is currently an infrastructure engineer at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), working with the team that is building MeerKAT, precursor to the SKA, and the SKA radio telescope — which will be the world’s biggest. Haak co-wrote the submission that nabbed South Africa the bulk of the hosting rights for the SKA and was involved in awarding all the infrastructure contracts, work that has earned her a seat on the National Research Foundation´s Bid Award Committee. She says that, although the SKA has its eye on the sky, its effects are on the ground. It is driving economic activity in the Karoo, where Haak is directly involved in recruiting and training local talent. — Joonji Mdyogolo