5th Annual SPISE Commences in Barbados
The annual Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) today welcomes 19 students from eight countries: Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago. The four-week programme, held by the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) on the University of the West Indies (UWI) Barbados campus, has graduated 66 Caribbean students to-date, who are attending such prestigious universities as MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and UWI. The CSF believes that one or more of these Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) superstars could create the “next Google” in the Caribbean or become the region’s first Nobel laureate in science.
SPISE is a flagship initiative of the CSF, whose mission is to help harness science and technology for the diversification of the economies of the region. Specifically, the CSF aims to: (a) assist with Science Technology, Engineering and Math education reform, and (b) stimulate more technologybased entrepreneurship and thereby create more jobs.
SPISE helps to address the low numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering, and groom the next generation of science, engineering, business and technology leaders in the region. It is widely believed that the region needs to create more technology companies that would export more innovative and competitive products and services, and bring more foreign exchange into the region. It is imperative then, to prepare the next generation for the challenges ahead.
Modelled after the well-known and highly successful MITES program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (web.mit. edu/mites), SPISE includes university-level courses in calculus, physics, biochemistry and entrepreneurship taught by eminent academic and industry scientists and engineers from the Caribbean and the U.S.
The SPISE environment discourages rote learning, and instead focuses the students on understanding and applying the fundamentals so as to achieve mastery of the material, which is critical for solving new, complex problems. In SPISE, students also practise teamwork as they participate in hands-on projects in underwater robotics and electronics (with a renewable energy theme).
In addition, SPISE 2016 includes a biochemistry lab, an introduction to Mandarin, a course on Caribbean unity, a career seminar series featuring technology role models from the Diaspora and the region, and workshops on CVs, and strategies for maximising chances of admission to the top universities. SPISE graduates are assisted by the CSF with their university applications, and have the opportunity to participate in U.S. and regional research internships organized by the CSF and the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI).
All SPISE students attend free of charge thanks to generous donations from the 2016 sponsors. The cost of sponsorship is US$6,000 per student. Key partners in SPISE are UWI-Barbados, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and CADSTI. The underwater robotic kits are a generous gift from the MIT Sea Grant Programme made possible through the assistance of Mr. Tim Downes.
The CSF is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation with headquarters in Barbados and representatives in several other Caribbean countries. Please visit http://caribbeanscience.org/projects/spise.php for more information about the SPISE, or contact Prof. Cardinal Warde at [email protected] or 1-617-699-1281. Donations to the CSF can be made at http://caribbeanscience.org/donation/.
SPISE students demonstrating their underwater robot.