Career & Education

SPISE 2017 wraps

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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The sixth iteration of the annual Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) came to a close last weekend, with students from across the Caribbean demonstrating their newly acquired skills in robotics, renewable energy and computer programming.

Twenty-four students — four of whom were Jamaican — graduated from the four-week residential programme which ran from July 15 to August 11 at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, and which aims to groom the region's next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

SPISE began in 2012 and is an initiative of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF). During the programme, students complete university-level courses in calculus, physics, biochemistry, and entrepreneurship, as well as hands-on projects in computer programming, robotics and engineering. The participants are challenged to build and programme a robot that can move underwater, create a wind turbine using PVC pipes, and develop their own computer programme.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) provided funding for two students to attend SPISE 2017 — Desmond Edwards from Jamaica and Tracey Moyston from Saint Lucia.

They noted that while the programme was challenging, they learnt a lot.

“It's been an interesting experience getting to connect with people from across the Caribbean, experiencing new cultures, being exposed to more advanced work than you would have been at the CAPE level. So even though it has been intense, it has been a good experience,” said Edwards.

“My SPISE experience has been one that was quite different to me…it took some time to adjust, but I learnt new skills, like how to work in teams, how to manage my time and, of course, I gained more knowledge in sciences and other areas like business,” said Moyston.

CDB's vice-president, Corporate Services and bank secretary, Yvette Lemonias-Seale said the investment in SPISE will redound to the benefit of the region.

“At CDB, one of our corporate priorities is to improve quality of, and access to, education and training in the Caribbean. SPISE is an initiative that we are very happy to support, as it allows gifted STEM students to develop their skills in related fields and pursue career options in those areas. We view this investment in SPISE as an opportunity to promote science and technology entrepreneurship and innovation as a path to economic growth and development for our region,” she said.

SPISE is led by Professor Cardinal Warde of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is modelled after the well-known and highly successful Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) programme at MIT. All SPISE alumni also have the opportunity to be assisted with their college applications and to participate in research internships in the Caribbean and abroad. This year the class of 24 students were from 13 countries — Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Martinique; Montserrat; St Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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