JIS News

University of Technology (UTech) President, Professor Errol Morrison, has urged  the nation’s young people to engage in research that will yield alternative cost effective energy solutions for Jamaica.

This, he contends, is critical in reducing the country’s oil import bill, which he says totaled some US$2.4 billion  in 2011, representing a 56 per cent increase over the previous year, based on data for the period.

Speaking at Friday’s (June 28) awards ceremony for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s (PCJ) Schools Energy Programme Competition, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St. Andrew, Professor Morrison noted that Jamaica is one of several countries whose energy production costs are among thehighest globally.

In noting Jamaica’s resource constraints, he urged the students to think of energy alternatives which can help to reduce Jamaica’s spiraling energy costs.

“It is fertile young minds like yours that we want to see putting thoughts to these new potential processes. So don’t feel overwhelmed, you just (need to) get into looking at the problem and see what you can do in your own little way,” he said.

Professor Morrison invited them to “think outside of the box, think differently, and assess things from a number of points of view.”

“Ask the question ‘why?’, and pursue your ideas…Once you believe in it and you understand the principles, work with it,” he encouraged.

The UTech President told the children that challenges, such as failure, will arise during their quest to innovate. He, however, urged them to remain undaunted as these experiences are a critical part of the process going forward.

Emphasizing his point, Professor Morrison cited several renowned scholars, whom, he pointed out, encountered failure in their endeavours, but never allowed this to derail their drive for success.

These persons, he informed, include scientists and innovators such as: Alexander Graham Bell, Dr. Thomas P. Lecky, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Alfred Nobel.

He encouraged the youngsters to seek assistance and advised, where needed, in developing their  ideas. He also urged them to register their ideas in order to protect their intellectual property, and thereby reap the potential dividends that would redound to their benefit.

Professor Morrison noted that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are the “core areas” of development in every country, adding that “every developed country has focused on these areas.”

Citing the United States as an example, he informed that about 75 per cent of the North American nation’s approximately $4.5 billion expenditure on tertiary education annually, redounds to students pursuing and attaining undergraduate degrees  in STEM related programmes.

“It is predicted that within the next 10 years, they are going to need at least one million graduates from the STEM area; so boys and girls, you are in the right field,” Professor Morrison said.

In his remarks, PCJ Group Managing Director, Dr. Mario Anderson, informed that primary and high school students from 50 institutions islandwide participated in the competition, which is the entity’s flagship endeavour promoting energy education among Jamaica’s young people.

Through the competition, the youngsters gained exposure to a variety of energy-related issues, including: energy efficiency, conservation and alternative energy sources, as well as the use of energy efficient products, technologies, and practices.

Students submitting entries deemed outstanding, received cash awards and other prizes from the PCJ and its partners in the endeavour, which included the PetroCaribe Development Fund, Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Petrojam, Conserve It Limited, Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), Half Moon Hotel and Resort, and SuperClubs Resort Limited.

Cash prizes, totaling $1.4 million, were awarded to the top three entries in each of the competition’s categories.

Devado Martin of Anchovy High School in St. James was the winner of the 11 to 15 age group poster competition, while Toni-Ann McGivans of Port Morant Primary and Junior High in St. Thomas, won in the six to 10 age group category.

In the essay competition, Jhoniel Anderson of Port Morant Primary and Junior High was adjudged winner in the 11 to 15 age group; while Shawna Lee McLaughlin from St. Mary High School, St. Mary, walked away with the top prize for the 16 to 19 age group.

In the competition’s science segment, Dunoon Park Technical High School, from Kingston, copped the top award in the 11 to 15 age group; while the St. Catherine-based Guy’s Hill High School emerged the winner of the 16 to 19 age group.

CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON