Caribbean STEM students graduate from summer science programme in Barbados

The annual Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) just concluded, with students from across the Caribbean demonstrating their newly acquired skills in areas such as robotics, renewable energy and computer programming. This year, 24 scholars graduated from the four-week programme, which aims to groom the Region’s next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Tracey Moyston makes a presentation to the audience on the final day of SPISE. Looking on are Sean Francois and Vicky Ramnarine.

This year, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), provided funding for two students to attend SPISE 2017: Tracey Moyston, from Saint Lucia, and Desmond Edwards from Jamaica. The four-week residential programme ran from July 15 to August 11 at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.

“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,” said Yvette Lemonias-Seale, Vice President, Corporate Services and Bank Secretary, CDB.

SPISE started 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.

CDB-sponsored SPISE students, Tracey Moyston, from Saint Lucia, and Desmond Edwards from Jamaica.

The CDB-sponsored students noted that while SPISE 2017 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.

(L-R) SPISE students Shanna Edwards, Jason Phillip and Desmond Edwards examine their underwater robot before their final presentation…

SPISE is led by Professor Cardinal Warde of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is modeled 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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