Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) Celebrating 10 Years of Excellence

The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), a non-profit organization promoting science and technology in the Caribbean, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its flagship program, the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE). Since its inception in 2012, the SPISE has served 169 students in the Region and will enroll 24 more students in the class of 2021. During the past decade, this program has welcomed students from more than 15 Caribbean countries.

Dr. Dinah Sah, the Co-Executive Director of the CSF and Director of SPISE, reports that “this year, our students, ages 16-18, will represent 8 Caribbean countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The annual five-week residential program is being held virtually this summer due to the on-going pandemic, as last year.”

Normally SPISE is held on the UWI – Cave Hill campus, and includes university-level calculus, physics, biochemistry and entrepreneurship, as well as hands-on projects in computer programming, renewable energy/electronics and underwater robotics.

SPISE has always been able to attract the very best academic and industry professionals as instructors. What makes this 10th anniversary year special is that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is playing its biggest and most significant role in SPISE ever. In addition to Professor Cardinal Warde from MIT - a Barbadian and Interim Executive Director of the CSF - both the Electronics and Physics II instructors have MIT faculty affiliations. The Calculus I instructor is from the MITES program at MIT which SPISE is modeled after. All 9 Teaching Assistants are either graduate or undergraduate students at MIT. Furthermore, MIT has supplied both the electronics kits and the Physics II kits. Importantly, a team of MIT Admissions Officers will brief this SPISE class on the MIT undergraduate experience and the application process.

SPISE has always been able to attract the very best academic and industry professionals as instructors. What makes this 10th anniversary year special is that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is playing its biggest and most significant role in SPISE ever. In addition to Professor Cardinal Warde from MIT – a Barbadian and Interim Executive Director of the CSF – both the Electronics and Physics II instructors have MIT faculty affiliations. The Calculus I instructor is from the MITES program at MIT which SPISE is modeled after. All 9 Teaching Assistants are either graduate or undergraduate students at MIT. Furthermore, MIT has supplied both the electronics kits and the Physics II kits. Importantly, a team of MIT Admissions Officers will brief this SPISE class on the MIT undergraduate experience and the application process.

It also happens that 4 SPISE graduates have earned spots in the September 2021 freshmen class at MIT, bringing to 21 the total number of SPISE graduates admitted to MIT since 2013. Dr. Sah goes on to state, “this 10th anniversary class that will start SPISE on July 4th is truly blessed to be participating in SPISE in this special year. To the best of our knowledge, there has never been this level of engagement, academic support and commitment to the Caribbean by the leading technological university in the world – MIT.”

In this special anniversary year, the SPISE students will be treated to a roster of eminent Career Seminar speakers, including Mr. Nicholas Brathwaite – founding partner of WRVI Capital, Mr. Ian Hickling – President and CEO of Lenstec, Dr. Dinah Sah – former Chief Scientific Officer of Voyager Therapeutics, Dr. Jeanese Badenock – incoming Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at UWI-Cave Hill, Emeritus Professor Jay Mandle from Colgate University (economics), Professor Robert Sah from UCSD (bioengineering), and Professor Cardinal Warde (electrical engineering). Additional workshops will be given by admissions officers from Columbia University, Princeton University, U Penn and McMaster University.

The benefits of SPISE extend well beyond the duration of the program. After graduating from SPISE, the students go on to receive CSF’s assistance with their university applications. Over the past 10 years, many of our SPISE graduates have enrolled in prestigious universities around the world including MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, U Penn, UWI, McMaster and Ryerson University. SPISE graduates are also eligible for internships in the US, Canada, UK and Caribbean organized by the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI) – New England, and the CSF.

A celebratory two-day virtual SPISE 10th anniversary reunion to which all 193 SPISE graduates will be invited will take place in August 2021. Finally, Dr. Sah states, “We would like to thank our key partners who have provided critical support from the very beginning: the UWI – Cave Hill Campus, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and Sagicor Insurance Company. Without this and the support of many institutional and individual donors, SPISE would not have been able to achieve these past 10 years of excellence.” More information about SPISE and its accomplishments can be found at http://caribbeanscience.org/spise

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