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Zimbabwean woman excels in Civil Engineering

I believe strongly that there are exciting times ahead of us. I say this because of the incredible investment that I find many Zimbabweans have made in the area of education.

Patricia Mabviko Musanhu

There are those who have left the country to study abroad and many more who have remained and taken every opportunity to advance their education.

The hardships that we continue to face as a country have also forced others to find work abroad and I believe a time is coming when this exposure and this knowledge will become relevant and useful in rebuilding our nation if not already.

This week I came across a young lady who, at the age of 34, is probably one of the youngest Civil Engineers and first female to be made partner at Zimbabwe’s biggest Engineering and Construction Firm.

Grace joined the firm in 2009 and was invited to become a partner after working for only a year. With this company, she has worked on numerous projects which include the construction of 3000 houses for workers at Unki Mine where she was both the resident engineer and was involved in designing the road network, water and sewage treatment works.

As a partner at the engineering and construction firm, she is passionate about improving service systems in Zimbabwe in particular roads, sewer and water systems with a view to upgrading their functionality.

“In the Unites States of America for example all sewer systems are automated,” she said.

“When there is a blockage in the system, that information is automatically communicated to an engineer who will know precisely what the problem is and where it is and attends to it immediately.
In our case we only get to know that there is a problem when we see sewer flowing on the surface for example and then we have to start investigating what the problem is and where it is. My desire is for us to be able to automate our systems as well, ” she added.
Grace had an opportunity to experience this first hand when she was studying towards her Master of Science degree in Sustainable Systems which she completed in 2013. As part of her study, she worked for a sewer treatment plant which used sewer to generate power.

For someone who has always been driven by challenges and the need to be different, Grace chose to study a BSC Honours in Civil Engineering at the University of Zimbabwe after completing her “A” levels at Thorn Hill High School in Gweru. There were only 2 female students in a class of 33 who enrolled to study Civil Engineering that year. Grace graduated in 2004 and was able to find employment with an engineering firm soon after her studies. In order to strengthen her management skills, she took up a Masters in Business Administration in 2007 with the University of Zimbabwe once again and graduated in 2010.

Her move to study a second Masters degree in America was prompted by the direction the world is taking to use environmentally friendly systems to help protect the environment for current and future generations.

She applied for a Rotary International Scholarship which was being offered to candidates in four African countries. Grace stood out as the best candidate.

Part of her responsibilities as a successful candidate of this scholarship was to sell her country in the different states of Pennsylvania where she was going to attend University.

“I travelled a lot and had more than 20 speaking engagements organized for me. I was treated like a celebrity when I arrived in America and had interviews lined up for me on radio and TV as well as the press. I had photos taken and was placed on a bill board alongside a busy highway. It was an experience of a lifetime,” she said.

When she completed her studies in America, Grace was offered a good job by the company she had worked for as a graduate assistant.

“I turned this offer down. My desire was to come back home and use the knowledge, skill and experience I had acquired to help rebuild my country. I believe I have a responsibility to continue adding value to my company and to contribute towards the development of my country. After all, I am where I am today because of this country,” she said.

Grace is married to a very supportive husband who has given her the space to realize her dreams.

“I also want to thank my mother and my father for giving me the best education they could afford. People usually say the sky is the limit but I believe that there is no limit to what one can achieve if they put their mind to it.”

Patricia Mabviko Musanhu is a Company Director/Producer at Black and White Media Productions. She can be contacted at

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