Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago – : The innovative virtual summer program, the IGT Coding and Robotics Rock Camp for Caribbean students got under way today. Mona GeoInformatics Limited (MGI) at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus is delivering the training, sponsored by International Game Technology (IGT), to students from IGT’s flagship After School Advantage (ASA) Program. Child Development Specialist and Mathematics/STEM educator Nalini Ramsawak-Jodha at UWI, St. Augustine has also joined with IGT and MGI to offer curriculum guidance for the program.
Thirty-six students, ages 12 to 18 from IGT ASA centers in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Maarten and Trinidad & Tobago along with their supervisors, are now engrossed in the exciting virtual camp, being hosted under the theme “Maximizing Technology.” The training will continue for the next two weeks, ending with a virtual graduation ceremony on August 19.
“This is a unique opportunity for students from IGT’s ASA computer centers across the Caribbean, and a new frontier for us at IGT,” observed Brendan Hames, IGT Regional Director, Caribbean. “This is the first time we are hosting a coding and robotics training program, the first of its kind to be taught simultaneously to Caribbean students in different locations.”
He continued, “We are excited at this opportunity to expand the students’ horizons and deepen their love of technology; this is something we value most highly. We are grateful to our partners, Mona GeoInformatics Limited, who designed the program. With the benefit of their expertise, we know this summer camp really ‘rocks!’ The project aligns with the goals of the region’s Governments to prioritize science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects in education.”
Dr. Parris Lyew Ayee, Director at MGI, pointed to key aspects of the online program, designed to introduce students to basic Microsoft Office software, coding, and robotics literacy. The goal is also to raise awareness of the applications of these skills and to highlight possible careers in this field.
“The ‘skills gap’ between the constantly evolving number of jobs in technology and those qualified to fill them is real,” said Dr. Lyew Ayee. “This is a valuable, marketable skill for life. We have designed the course for children with limited or no prior exposure to this field. We hope that students will benefit from insights into the computer science industry, both regionally and globally. At the same time, they will develop a solid foundation. We believe they will also enjoy themselves, as they learn to use their creativity, building games, websites, applications, and robots.”
Since 2011, IGT and its subsidiaries have opened a total of 38 fully outfitted After School Advantage computer labs in the English-speaking Caribbean, creating learning hubs for students from under-served communities. In addition to the five participating countries in this year’s IGT Coding and Robotics Rock Camp, IGT has also established fully furnished ASA Centers in Antigua as well as St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. In recent years, IGT has sought to enhance the students’ technology awareness and preparedness for the world of work through summer field trips, internships and training programs.