The annual Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) is one of the flagship initiatives of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) whose mission is to help harness science and technology for the diversification of the economies of the Region. The CSF’s objectives are to: (a) assist with Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education reform, and (b) stimulate more technology-based entrepreneurship and thereby create more jobs. In this regard, the goals of SPISE are to help 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 to earn more foreign exchange. It is imperative, then, that we prepare the next generation for the challenges ahead!
SPISE is an intensive four-week enrichment residential summer program for Caribbean high-school students who are: (a) gifted in STEM, (b) not less than 16 and not more than 18 years of age on July 1st, and (c) interested in studying and exploring careers in these and related fields. SPISE graduates have been admitted to such prestigious universities as MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Duke and University of the West Indies (UWI). The CSF believes that one or more of these STEM superstars could create the “next Google” in the Caribbean or become the Region’s first Nobel laureate in science.
SPISE is modeled after the well-known and highly successful MITES program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (web.mit.edu/mites), and 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 teaches the students how to focus on understanding and applying the fundamentals so as to achieve mastery of the material, critical for solving new, complex problems. In SPISE, students also practice teamwork as they participate in hands-on projects to design, build and test systems in the areas of robotics and electronics (with a renewable energy theme this year). The underwater robotic kits are a generous gift from the MIT Sea Grant Program made possible through the assistance of Mr. Tim Downes. In addition, SPISE 2014 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 optimizing CVs and strategies for maximizing chances of admission to U.S. universities.
This year the students will demonstrate their hands-on projects, and present their business plans and Mandarin skits at the conclusion of the program in a public forum on August 15th at the 3Ws Oval on the UWI-Barbados campus. Another key feature of the SPISE is that post-SPISE graduates are assisted by the CSF with their university applications, and have the opportunity to participate in research internships organized by the CSF and Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation (CADSTI). Please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75UUowD7-oM to view a video which captures the real spirit of SPISE.
SPISE 2014 runs from July 19 to August 16 on the UWI-Barbados campus with 21 students from 11 countries (Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago). The cost of sponsorship is US$6,000 per student plus airfare. All students attend free of charge thanks to generous donations from the 2014 sponsors. Key partners in the SPISE are UWI-Barbados, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and CADSTI.
The CSF is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-617-699-1281. Donations to the CSF can be made at http://caribbeanscience.org/donation/.
SPISE 2014 Sponsors to Date: Scotiabank East, Central Bank of Barbados, Light and Power Holdings, Barbados Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, LUCELEC, Neal & Massy Foundation, Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, Caribbean Development Bank, Belize Telemedia Limited, Belize PUC, Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust, CGX Energy Inc., Guyana Ministry of Education, Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, Bishop Anstey High School East &Trinity College East, DOMLEC, Dominica Secondary Schools Supporters Association (DASSSA), Dominica National Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission, Fast Cash BIM Ltd., Dominica Business Systems, Jamaica National Commercial Bank (NCB), Nicholas Brathwaite’s PETNA Foundation, CADSTI, U.S. Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Diane Beckles (USA), Suzette Clinton (USA), Geoffrey Cole (USA), Richard Fauconier (USA), Elson Gaskin & Colleagues (Barbados), Liza George (Antigua), Kim Jean (USA), Lisa Jones Johnson (USA), Sekazi Mtingwa (USA), Arlette Palmer (USA), Oonah Roberts (Guyana), Alan and Penny Smith (UK), Colin Walcott (Barbados), Hilbourne Watson (USA), and Emerson Yearwood (USA).
Credit: Caribbean Science Foundation