SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Diego Lascurain was among students breathing a sigh of relief Friday after successfully completing a programme focused on boosting the skills of teens in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

He was one of three Queen’s College students taking part in the 2017 edition of the Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE), the others being Matthew Clarke and Shanna Edwards. “The tools were great, the classes were great and the homework was manageable. To be honest, I think it’s good that it’s intense
because when you’re learning and its full immersion rather than doing one hour per week,” said Lascurain.

He was initially concerned about taking four weeks out of his summer vacation for the programme, but now has no regrets.

24 students

The trio were among 24 secondary school students from 13 countries who qualified for the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) programme hosted at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Lascurain, who was considering a career in engineering, says he is now leaning towards computer science. For Jamaican Jason Salmon, 17, the programme helped cement his interest in biomedical engineering. “It has been a good experience because I got to meet 23 other people from around the Caribbean so it was a mixture of cultures. At the same time, I learnt a lot from the experience in terms of programming because I hadn’t done it before. Biochemistry was quite
extensive as well,” he said. This was the largest group of students to take part in in the programme since it began  six years ago. Assistant director of the CSF, Lois Oliver, explained that the teens lived on campus, received instructions in physics, calculus, biochemistry, robotics entrepreneurship, underwater robotics, renewable energy and Caribbean unity and also took part in a series of career seminars.

She said on their successful completion of SPISE they become eligible for company internships in Barbados, the United States and  Canada, where they learn more about businesses, including the scientific aspect.
They also received help getting into universities and colleges. (WILLCOMM)

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