5th An­nual SPISE Com­mences in Bar­ba­dos

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

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.

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