The University of the West Indies, Mona and the University of Technology, Jamaica have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the execution of the Frontiers of Research in Caribbean Science and Technology (FORECAST) Conference 2020.

The science and technology conference, which is being sponsored by The Jamaica National Group, is scheduled to be held June 9 to12 on the campuses of The UWI and UTech.

Forecast 2020 is the first joint conference of the science facilities of both universities; and is being held under the theme, “Science and Technology: a D.R.I.V.E.R of Transformation.”

Speaking at the launch and MoU signing, Professor Ian Boxhill, Deputy Principal at The UWI, said the conference will highlight science and technology as a pillar for regional transformation, through its provision of new thought; discourse and foundational knowledge; as well as, skills.

He stated that the seminar is an excellent opportunity for The UWI and UTech to share their research prowess, as the two largest tertiary institutions in the country. “Such collaboration can only bolster our individual efforts to ensure science and technology drive in this country,” he said.

“Through this collaboration, we are creating the space for members of our two institutions, and other institutions, to come together and share resources and ideas that can fuel the kind of transformation which will enhance the quality of life for all.”

Professor Colin Gyles, deputy president, UTech said he would like to see more emphasis being placed on the growth and expansion of STEM in Jamaica, pointing out that science and mathematics are drivers of development.

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“I would like to see more emphasis on the development of the mathematical skills that form the basis for effective science learning. It can only do well for our country, and help us develop in the way that we want to,” he affirmed.

Professor Gyles said he welcomed the signing of the MoU, as it provides an opportunity for both institutions to pool their resources and capabilities, in order to strengthen science and technology locally and in the region.

“In a small country where there are limited resources and a small talent pool, it makes sense to collaborate. This type of partnership allows for unity; and we know that, in unity there’s strength. A the same time, it also allows for diversity, because monopolies have a way of making people comfortable; but when there’s diversity, there are different ways of doing things and when we pool together we have something that is richer,” he pointed out.

Claudine Allen, executive, member relations at The Jamaica National Group, said the organisation is in full support of the collaboration between The UWI and UTech, noting that the conference will help to promote scientific thinking and innovation in the region.

“Science and innovation are important to us now, as a people in this region; not simply to position our industries, including our financial services, to develop and compete more forcefully and effectively; but to protect our states from the real and serious harms of climate change,” she informed.

“We look forward to the myriads of ideas that will emerge; and, more importantly, the consensus and action that will be reached and taken on the way forward for science and technology in the region,” Miss Allen said.

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The FORECAST 2020 conference will include plenary lectures by invited experts, oral and poster presentations by participants, three-minute pitches, pre-conference workshops on special topics, a field trip, conference reception and conference prizes for presentations.

Students, academics and professionals from tertiary institutions; the public and private sectors of Jamaica; as well as, the wider Caribbean and beyond, are invited to submit papers and posters detailing original scientific research findings of regional relevance.

Presentations may be in any areas of the medical, natural or social sciences; and may cover pure or applied research, technological and scientific innovation, STEM policy and education; as well as, industrial and developmental findings.

Submissions highlighting interdisciplinary research are particularly encouraged. Submissions are also invited from high school and tertiary student teams, for the second Grand Innovation Challenge, around the theme of “water.”



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