Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Science and technology necessary


A CONCERTED effort is under way to ensure that the region creates more technology-based companies and more high-paying technology jobs, bringing in valuable foreign exchange in the process.

This is one of the long-term objectives of the Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) initiative, now in its third year, which has brought together some of the brightest young minds from across the region.

Assistant Director of the CSF, Lois Oliver.
From left: Jacob Smith from Barbados, Cecil Cox from
Guyana and David Serrant from Trinidad and Tobago
share a light moment with Interim Executive Director
of the Caribbean Science Foundation, Professor Cardinal
Warde, after the official launch of the 2014 Student
Programme for Innovation in Science and
Engineering at the 3Ws Oval recently.
An initiative of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), 21 students are being exposed to opportunities that exist in the field of science and technology in a four-week enrichment residential summer programme.

Assistant Director of the CSF, Lois Oliver, told The Grenada Advocate that the brainchild of Professor Cardinal Warde is an attempt to reinvigorate the numbers of persons interested in science and technology that have dropped significantly over the years.

“This is our way of creating high-paying jobs in the Caribbean. All we need is a few high-tech high-paying jobs that would create employment for our people. Could you imagine if Google had started in the Caribbean, or Microsoft?” she remarked.

“We want young people to think like entrepreneurs, creatively and innovatively, but focus on science and technology.”

She noted that the initiative requires significant sponsorship to the tune of US$6 000 per student. For this reason, she thanked corporate partners whom she said have been generous to the programme, which has increased from six students in its first year to ten in the second and now 21 in the third.

The students will be exposed to a number of subjects including physics, biochemistry, calculus and even Mandarin, the latter of which she noted is critical in order to communicate effectively with Chinese counterparts.

“We also help with their college applications and we started to provide internships for them in high-tech companies in the Caribbean and the US. One student is currently in Boston to get that experience,” she revealed.

Oliver noted that while the infrastructure for these types of high-tech jobs might not be readily available in the region, persons can develop their skills extra-regionally and return with the expertise to help the region. It is against this backdrop that she lauded the foresight of Professor Warde, who has established his career and is voluntarily giving back of his know-how to help Caribbean youth to excel.

She said there are a number of rapidly emerging fields in drug development, like medical robotics, of which persons could benefit significantly.

“Not down crying other fields, but they don’t create lots of high-paying jobs for lots of people. Imagine a biotechnology company in Barbados manufacturing these devices, employing 1 000 people,” she remarked, adding that this would be critically important during the economic downturn.

The third annual SPICE programme was launched recently at the 3Ws Oval at the UWI Cave Hill Campus. (JH)

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