The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology has introduced three new high-tech courses in a bid to help young people become disruptors in their technological fields, principal Ian Drakes has declared.
Courses in hybrid vehicle electrics, 3D printing and 3D body scanning have begun at the Wildey technical school, he said, as a dozen people graduate a train-the-trainers course in Electric/Hybrid Vehicle System Repair Replacement by the British Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).
The IMI International Level 3 qualification is for training providers and employers to deliver to learners in the 16-18 and 19+ age groups. These young learners are then trained to work safely when carrying out repairs on Electric/Hybrid vehicle high voltage systems.
Drakes said the three new programmes are to be introduced at the start of the next school year, adding that the curricula have already been developed and meetings have been held with industry partners to provide assistance.
He said: “We have started the training in three areas – hybrid electrics, 3D printing and 3D body scanning. What we are doing is piloting the hybrid electrics.
“We have a third-year group in advanced auto mechanics, for example, and they are doing piloting as it relates to that.
“So by August 17, 2020 we are looking to roll out these new programmes.”
Drakes disclosed that the SJPI board has issued a challenge to instructors to work with students to find a way to retrofit the current Transport Board bus fleet with electric drivetrains.
He also pointed out that the institute was working closely with the Caribbean Development Bank to “come up with an interesting aspect of how to pilot the drone technology”.
“This is what we mean by being disruptive. In a positive way,” said Drakes, adding that a part of the aim was to have Barbados start “exporting labour”.
“I always say we don’t fear brain drain. We have too many dynamic digital citizens that we can be disruptive in a positive way,” he said.
The response to the new tech programmes was overwhelming, he said, adding that the courses on offer were based heavily on industry demands.
He indicated that several transport, oil and gas and technology industry officials have been making requests for specially trained individuals.
Drakes said: “That is were we see the demand has been coming in terms of what is needed.
“Our partners in all of this have been driving us to create programmes that can meet the demands and also to produce entrepreneurs across Barbados.
“We have been modernizing and transforming.”
He added that a number of SJPI labs have been converted to accommodate some of the high-tech courses.
Specialists from the UK were responsible for training the individuals, which included instructors from the SJPI, University of the West Indies, Barbados Community College and McEnearney Quality Inc. and Courtesy Garage workers.
During the short presentation ceremony for the awardees, William Hinds, Chief Energy Conservation Officer in the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, challenged them to “follow your nose” and become leaders in their areas of specialization.
Hinds, who is responsible for creating a solar power golf cart, shuttle and several renewable energy systems here, spoke of the origins of the electric vehicle, while questioning Barbados’ complacency in that area over the past eight decades.
Said Hinds: “Why did we have to wait for some person using the name of an inventor from decades ago? Why did we have to wait?
“Leadership does not come from asking the other people in automotive technology and transport technology what they want to do and how we can follow ten years later, but leadership comes from following yourself.”
Expressing elation at the institute’s new programmes and the training that the trainers have received, Hinds said he was satisfied that “there is someone here at this institute that is going to be disruptive, that is going to be the new leader”.
Warning the participants not to be discouraged by naysayers, Hinds declared: “Out of every 100 people you will meet there will be 99 who will tell you nay.
“So follow your nose and be disruptive but be aware that there will be people around who will be quite comfortable in giving you their favourite word, which is no.
“In sustainable technology, sustainable transport, for you to become that new leader the only person you must follow is yourself.
“So the future is bright. Sure, we are on the back foot in terms of these technologies but let us say from today in 2020 your technology disruptive programme will seek to have persons who are disruptive.”