Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus, Peter Gibbs, wants to see more young people get involved in entrepreneurship.
He was speaking with Barbados TODAY at the presentation of students in the 2012 Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering. He said that the general complaint was that too many young people were more interested in picking technology off the shelves and using them.
“I want to see them get more involved with actually building and designing them,” he said. “It is better to come out as a graduate and go and look to work for yourself than to work for somebody else.”
He noted that the skills and creativity of the 10 students in the programme were on par with those of students at MIT, but lamented that fact that few students were furthering their studies because of issues of financing.
“The problem is they need the facilities, they need the encouragement, they need mentoring and tutoring; it is a lot easier for them to go overseas and get it. Many of them if they win scholarships they may go overseas and we may not see them come back. So we have to start providing those kinds of facilities for them and therefore our next five-year programme will be in science and technology, hence that is why we have changed the name of the faculty.
“We hope that a lot of these students will stay within the Caribbean and develop their education rather than going abroad. These programmes that you are now seeing here – with MIT, it is tremendous for these kids who have been brought here from all over the Caribbean. As you may have seen here a lot of these presentations covered a lot of areas of science, so this is very good for giving them a rounded education. Hopefully we will see many of these coming here next year as our students.”
Gibbs said that the UWI had seen the importance of technology to the Caribbean and while the number in his faculty had not increased they were “healthy”.
He added that it was the faculty’s hope to create a Science Park at the campus, which was aimed at attracting manufacturers and even encouraging them to come to the campus and implement more programmes which involved the students and internships.
“Barbados is pretty small and has a very small Science and Technology base, so this is our chance to try to increase that over the next five years,” he said.
Other upcoming programmes to promote science and technology within the Caribbean, Gibbs said would be a conference in November, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, which will focus on science and technology and entrepreneurship. The UWI also plans to offer online programmes in gaming and telecommunication.
“I think now it is just a matter of garnering the support that we can get from private industries and the Government, as you know these are very hard economic times so it is going to be a pretty difficult task.
“We have started exploratory talks with many groups, not only the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association but also the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers. We are looking at many areas trying to get as many of them on board and let people realise that the campus is not theory and abstract work and pure science but also applied science,” he said. (KC)