By RON FANFAIR
Ryerson University has reached out to a Caribbean Disapora organization seeking to diversify the economies of the region by promoting and supporting science and engineering education, research and entrepreneurship as a means of advancing public health and catalyzing economic development and prosperity.
The inaugural meeting of the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation (CADSTI) was recently held at Ryerson with the aim of starting a Canadian arm.
The organization has branches in New England, Atlanta, the United Kingdom and the Silicon Valley.
Distinguished Barbadian-born scientist Dr. Cardinal Warde, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the president of CADSTI which was launched in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad eight years ago.
“We were formed primarily to get resources from the Diaspora down to the Caribbean to help change the landscape of science and technology in the region,” said Dr. Warde who, as a doctoral student at Yale University, invented a new inferometer with the ability of operating at absolute zero temperature that measure the refractive index and thickness of solid oxygen films used for his dissertation research.
“Most young people go into law and medicine even if they can do science. The Caribbean needs more scientists and engineers because they are the individuals that create more jobs than lawyers and doctors. More jobs and better paying ones are needed in the Caribbean to bring in more foreign exchange. Most Caribbean countries are up to their ears in debt and that will have difficulties paying them off. If the status quo continues, the debt will get bigger.”
In 2010, CADSTI created the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF).
“That’s an organization that’s on the ground in Barbados,” said Warde who has registered 12 patents and published over 100 technical papers on optical materials, devices and systems. “As CADSTI’s implementation arm in the Caribbean, we support the CSF projects by providing leadership, advisory oversight and financial assistance. We have to keep the pipeline full of young people who want to be scientists, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs who want to start up companies. Once the companies get off the ground, these relationships, I think, with the Diaspora are important. There is a lot the Diaspora can do to help and we are just trying to tap into all of those possibilities.”
The CSF is expected to stimulate technology-based entrepreneurship by identifying and funding science and technology projects in new and exciting enterprises, accelerate education reform that supports technology-based entrepreneurship and provide scientific and engineering advisory services to Caribbean governments by working with CADSTI to leverage the expertise in the Diaspora.
Award-winning scientist Dr. Imogen Coe, the dean of the Faculty of Science at Ryerson University, welcomed CADSTI with open arms.
“This is an incredibly exciting initiative,” she said. “I came to Canada as an international student and I am a strong believer in the internationalization of our students. We want them to go to other places and get an experience of the world. We, in the Faculty of Science, believe in accessibility, diversity and inclusivity.”
Dr. Emily Agard, an adjunct professor and director of science communication, outreach and public engagement at Ryerson, also played a key role in facilitating CADSTI’s entry to Canada.
“What they are doing fits into what we here at Ryerson promote and likes to support,” said Dr. Agard, the daughter of Barbadian and Grenadian immigrant parents.
CADSTI-New England president and director Dr. Dinah Sah accompanied Warde to Toronto.
Barbados’ consul general Haynesley Benn and former Peel District School Board director of education Harold Brathwaite attended the meeting.