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Solar schooling

Dr. Alain Joseph sharing a light moment with DIrector of the Higher Education Unit Dr. Patrick Rowe.

A Canadian college created a buzz this week when it brought the concept of solar innovation into the classroom, in a matter of speaking.

Research Scientist, Dr. Alain Joseph of the Nova Scotia Community College told Barbados TODAY after presenting at the Third International Conference on Higher Education 2012, that there were more than enough opportunities to explore how solar energy can be adapted to the classrooms to teach students about innovation.

Joseph himself, explained that in Canada he had embarked on a two-year study with students there looking at utilising solar energy technologies in the community. Through the course which he said saw students developing innovations in solar energy and then implementing them in the community. The scientist in Applied Energy Research added that they were able to see the possibilities not just to research and development in educational institutions but for practical applications to companies as well.

He said the college had been taking ideas from the university level that had been partially proven and implementing those solar technologies at the community level, rather successfully.

Although most of what they had developed so far was based on the government’s policy to diversify renewable energy areas, Joseph said he thought there were lessons in what they were doing for Barbados and the rest of the region.

“I have been trying to inspire the community here to see that there is a lot of opportunity to engage young people to bring the innovative solutions around these technologies to this region.

“We have a model of what we are doing in Nova Scotia, working with the students in our programmes and integrating them into research as they do their studies but tying that into real community needs. So as they are studying basic theory about electronic or electrical systems, we introduce them to the challenges that exist around them in their communities, and where we can we get them involved in projects where we tie in industry problems, and in many cases they will solve those problems for industry partners,” said Joseph.

The scientist, who specialises in sustainable energy and renewable energy monitoring as well, said the students have been able to realise and develop practical skills in new developing areas, sometimes in a field that they had never thought about professionally in such precise ways.

Generally he said the response from the community had been encouraging, although he acknowledged that they were going to have to do a lot more outreach to dispel some of the myths about renewable energy technologies.

“I think the key idea of our model is building capacity and I have been very impressed with the education system here in Barbados. We have seen some amazing student performances and obviously there are some very talented young people in this region. One of the themes of the conference has been that we are heading into a much more global education system and students can access because of ICT and the Internet, the newest relevant science and technology information as quick as anyone anywhere in the world…,” he noted.

He said he saw colleges like that in Nova Scotia being able to collaborate with those in this region to push the concepts of research and development. (LB)

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