Students attending the Third Biennial Science & Technology (S&T) symposium have been told their future will depend a lot on how much S&T they know, and have been urged to consider a related programme of study at the UWI that could help them along this path.
This advice was given recently at the opening of the two-day event at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, staged by the National Council for Science & Technology (NCST) under the theme: Fostering Innovation through Research in Science & Technology.
Acting Minister of Education, Science, Technology & Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands noted that S&T did not have to be at the expense of other subjects, and called for a “happy marriage” between science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the arts and cultural pursuits.
Pointing out that the issues confronting the country would require the input of the youth, he stressed: “I am not just talking about fanciful stuff about driverless cars but real problems that we confront in this society today. We need serious input from young scientists like yourselves, for example, the issue of water…”
The Acting Minister added that other issues such as climate change, coastal management and tourism, which the country depended on, were also critical.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the UWI China Institute of Information Technology, Dr. Anthony Fisher, in agreeing with the Acting Minister, said S&T was critical in driving sectors in the Barbadian economy.
Acknowledging it was important to innovate and be competitive, he said: “In the post PC era, the development of software, one of the most in demand exportable services, can be the factor to transform the Barbados economy, and provide alternate career choices to young people. But there is a skill gap which needs to be filled with academic and practical training, before Barbados can become a software development hub as many would wish.”
Students were therefore encouraged to consider applying for UWI’s innovative four-year BSC programme in software engineering, initiated last semester, at both Cave Hill and Mona campuses, as a way to fill this skill gap.
The programme, he explained, would see students spending the first two years at Cave Hill or Mona, where they would study core software engineering courses along with Chinese and Chinese culture. The remaining two years, he added, would be spent with GIST in Suzhou, China, where they would continue their Mandarin and Chinese culture courses.
“We are convinced that Barbados will benefit from graduates in software engineering who will return to use their skills to help solve Barbadian social problems; grow local industries; and facilitate the implementation of e-governance and regional e-commerce,” the Director said, adding that a critical mass of those trained would become the core of a software industry for Barbados, thereby helping to reduce the island’s dependence on tourism.