Jamaicans cite STEM robotics for Vision 2030

Jamaicans cite STEM robotics for Vision 2030
Jamaica’s Robotics Team.
JC web portal

While United States media outlets have been damning the abrupt ending of the G7 Summit in Quebec, Canada and the fact President Donald Trump abbreviated talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Jamaicans are celebrating the fact that the tiny island distinguished itself as the only English-speaking Caribbean country invited to join the talks with leaders of France, USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada.

Heads of the European Union are traditionally asked into the conversations, however, beyond the core membership of the group few are ever asked to join in discussions with developed nations.

On this recent go round, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness along with the leaders of Argentina, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya, Marshall Islands and Norway were invited.

The 12 countries and four international organizations were able to expand discussions beyond those that concern wealthy nations.

Unfortunately, little will be made public from the historic meeting except the excoriating remarks that Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to President Trump made saying Sunday that “there’s a special place in hell” for the Canadian Prime Minister and any foreign leader who engages in “bad faith diplomacy.”

His reference was to rebuke the northern leader for provoking Trump to bolt from the gathering prematurely in order to avert an international confrontation. Opting to arrive early for another summit, one that was controversial for its on and off and on again convening in Singapore, Trump traveled earlier than planned to mend fences with North Korea and hopefully win respect from Asian countries leery about his demand for de-escalation of nuclear weaponry.

Jamaicans in the thrust of celebrating Caribbean Heritage Month here bragged about the island’s unprecedented invitation with cabinet minister Andrew Wheatley leading a chorus of cheer leaders touting the merits of the invitation.

“It’s a big deal,” he said, “not a small thing at all,” he said about the G7 invitation.

The visiting minister of science, energy and technology here to accept a Griffy Award for his contribution to advancing scientific and technological transition of his country to become a world-class society through innovation amplified the historic achievement recently at the Jamaica Consulate.

As Trudy Deans, Jamaica’s consul general to New York listened to him and members of the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York explain a collaborative alliance with the government for development of the STEM education proposal targeting 30,000 students for a Vision 2030 Plan that will produce a scientific and technological workforce by the year 2030, another outstanding achievement revealed success with a robotics team of students.

Apparently, alums of the all-male high school often referred to as JC partnered with the Kingston-based learning center on a project to improve conditions at the more than 200-year-old institution by creating a fully outfitted robotics lab. They also promoted practical applications of robotics being adopted into the school’s science curriculum.

The philanthropic effort proved successful when in 2009 a club submitted entry to the First Tech Competition (FTC), the premier robotics competition in the United States for high school students.

Their entry signaled the very first for a Caribbean high school and more importantly one outside the United States in the robotics field.

Butch Hendrickson, an alumnus of JC endorsed the project saying that the island’s robotics team is already making a mark on the international circuit.

Earlier this year, a 13-member robotics team from the Jamaican College Robotics Club won the esteemed Inspire Award at the challenge held here. The Inspire Award is the top prize given to teams at the FTC championship.

They scored the prize for exhibiting the best example of all-round brilliance. They also were cited for “portraying characteristics of a strong ambassador, and the best embodiment of the spirit of the US First program.”

In the school’s second entry into the competition, the team finished 12th overall. In 2012, the team finished second in its division and third in the overall competition. Jamaica College has remained the only representative from outside the United States.

The team upped their profile in 2013 by winning their first award.

According to Carl Bennett, JCOBA New York president the aim is “to empower Jamaicans to achieve their full potential and increase productivity.”

The minister described the bold project as his government’s plan to move the country from “poverty to prosperity.”

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