SPISE 2015 comes to a close

CDB sponsored SPISE students Erica Virgo (left) and Terrikia Benjamin (right), display the wind turbine blades that they created out of PVC pipes during the 4-week programme.

CDB sponsored SPISE students Erica Virgo (left) and Terrikia Benjamin (right), display the wind turbine blades that they created out of PVC pipes during the 4-week programme.

On Friday August 14, 2015, the 2015 edition of the Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) came to a close, and by all indications, it has once again been a resounding success. On the final day, the 18 students involved in the programme took the opportunity to showcase what they had studied over the past four weeks to the audience of eager parents, sponsors, and interested members of the public.

SPISE is put on by the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), and aims to groom the Region’s next generation of leaders in science, technology and engineering. The residential programme is opened to gifted Caribbean students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and sees the students being immersed in an intensive programme of study, doing university-level courses in robotics, electronics and Mandarin, among others.

Professor Cardinal Warde, Interim Executive Director of the CSF, notes that the SPISE programme aims to discourage rote learning, and instead, encourages the students to think critically: “We try to put the students in an environment that they have to think, where they have to be creative, innovative, and we try to teach subjects that they may not have had to take before, like biochemistry and Mandarin.

SPISE was held at the Cave Hill Campus at the University of the West Indies from July 18 to August 14, 2015. On the final day of the programme, students showcased the projects that they had been working on over the past four weeks, including a wind turbine which they had created using PVC pipes, as well as an underwater robot which could move about and retrieve items underwater. Over the four-week period, the students worked in groups of three to design and cut the blades for their wind turbines, as well as put together the pieces of the robot, and build the motors which would allow the robot to maneuver underwater. They also performed a popular Chinese folk song in Mandarin.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) once again partnered with the CSF for the 2015 staging of SPISE, and provided funds for two students to participate: 17-year old Terrikia Benjamin from Antigua, and 17-year old Erica Virgo from Jamaica. Students hailed from 10 countries, Antigua; Barbados; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and Trinidad.

We are pleased to continue to support SPISE, as we believe that Science, Engineering and Technology have a large role to play in transforming the fortunes of the Caribbean region in the future. It is our hope that the students who have benefited from this programme will leave with a greater appreciation for STEM, and the range of career possibilities that exist for them in this area,” said Klao Bell-Lewis, Head of Corporate Communications at the CDB.

SPISE is led by Professor Cardinal Warde of MIT, and is modeled after the well-known and highly successful MITES program at MIT for which Prof. Warde has served as the Faculty Director for over 15 years. All post-SPISE students also have the opportunity to be assisted with their college applications, and have the opportunity to participate in research internships in the Caribbean and abroad. Graduates of the programme have gone on to be admitted to prestigious universities such as Columbia; Cornell; Duke; Harvard; MIT; Princeton; Stanford; UWI; and Yale.