My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why CMI's Future Mechatronics Engineers need Free Housing for Robotics Programmers vital to Jamaica's Growth

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why CMI's Future Mechatronics Engineers need Free Housing for Robotics Programmers vital to Jamaica's Growth

“The traditional engineers are no longer relevant and we continue to evolve. The three things that should be critical at institutions are teaching students the value of a good attitude, a foreign language and inculcating critical thinking skills. Because with the rapid changes taking place, you can't be confined to any one area anymore. Those skills are transferable, no matter what area you end up”

Executive Director at the CMI (Caribbean Maritime Institute), Dr Fritz Pinnock in comments to the Jamaica Gleaner after the launch of the Maritime Awareness Exhibition held at the CMI on Monday September 21st 2015

The face of Engineering may soon be radically change towards a more multi-disciplinary approach. The idea of being purely a Mechanical, Electrical, Power, Instrumentation, Electronics and Telecoms, Chemical or Civil Engineer in Jamaica might soon be old hat in the next five to ten years.

Folks, queue the song Automatic by the Pointer Sisters!

So says Executive Director at the CMI (Caribbean Maritime Institute), Dr Fritz Pinnock who is heralding a trend towards to Robotics and Programming on the horizon as reported in the article

He made these comments to the Jamaica Gleaner after the launch of the Maritime Awareness Exhibition held at the CMI on Monday September 21st 2015.

During that conversation, he made mention of plans to launch a degree in Mechatronics, which is basically a Degree combining knowledge of mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, Instrumentation and control, and computer Programming as explained in the article “Career Walk Mechatronic engineer”, published Tuesday, July 01, 2014, The Jamaica Observer

These plans have long been in the offing, as he’d previous been seeking funding from as far back a February 2014 from the PetroCaribe Fund to have Engineering firm Festo build a state-of-the-art Mechatronics Lab to train Mechatronics (read Robotics!) Engineers as reported in the article “Mechatronics lab coming”, published Sunday, February 09, 2014 BY NADINE WILSON Career & Education reporter, The Jamaica Observer

According to Dr Fritz Pinnock, he's already seeing signs that there is a need for such an amalgam of skills, with a yearly demand of some 40,000 seafarers from his school alone.

Already I can see many CMI students on the MICO University College Campus milling around since September 2015 and going to do courses, as there is a space shortage at the CMI as reported in “Caribbean Maritime Institute Facing Space Constraints As Enrolment Increases”, published Wednesday September 2, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

Many of his graduates from the CMI find themselves being paid well for their multi-disciplinary approach and transferrable skills, quote: “That's the requirement on a yearly basis and these officers are earning US$3,000 a month. These opportunities are out there, particularly in the shipping industry, but we have to change the traditional way of doing things”.

Yes folks you read that right: US$3000 per month as a Maritime Engineer. But the combination of all those disciplines also points to something else coming to Jamaica: Robotics Engineering and Programming.

Robotics Engineering is a field that Pays - How Robotics Engineering is vital to Jamaica's Growth

Robotics Engineering or Mechatronics as it's called in Australia, is curiously the focus of Australia as explained in my blog article entitled “Australia and Robots in Farming and Mining - Why Programming taught at Early Childhood necessary as Robots and Drones need Drone Pilots, Supervisors and Engineers”.

Australia is now developing robots to do repetitive and dangerous tasks such as mining and faming due to a labour shortage.  To this end, he’s suggesting that Jamaica start training Engineers in this new field of Mechatronics, quote: “Right now, 60 per cent of the best careers in the next 10 years are yet to be invented, and so we have to desist from seeing the Jamaican landscape separate from the world. We need to align our programmes to international standards”.

Dr Fritz Pinnock said that the Engineer who sticks to one field would have a problem, as Robotics Engineering requires knowledge of the following three things:

1.      Value of a good attitude
2.      A foreign language (French or Spanish)
3.      Critical thinking skills

Not surprisingly, he also blamed that lack of interest in Engineering on parents, many of whom focus on having their children trained in more prestigious but less rewarding fields such as Medicine and Law, quote: “Parents, too, are to be blamed because everybody wants their daughter to become a lawyer, but we have seen that the traditional way of doing things are still producing gaps”

This is an opinion I share as Engineering is made to look less lucrative, despite Engineers being top earners in the US of A as argued in my Geezam blog article entitled “Engineering Degrees are among the Top Earning Degrees in the USA for Jamaican College Students”.

In fact, there is an Engineering Hiring spree currently ongoing since April 2015 based on the stats from a poll conducted by analyst Statista on behalf of Financial Magazine Forbes as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why Technology Companies are Seeking Engineers”. 

Good to hear the Politicians supporting this move, as Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. Morais Guy, echoes that sentiment: “Institutions such as CMI are needed, as they provide a niche in education opportunities for youths in this country. Through increased education and training, the sector here in Jamaica will not only be able to adopt new and emerging technology but to create technology locally”.

Clearly Jamaica is behind in the field of Robotics, Mechatronics as well as Programming, quote: “If we are to in any way match up to the rest of the world, we have to create something that is innovative, and the ministry is, therefore, resolute in giving the necessary support, as the career opportunities are endless”.

Already Programming is being encouraged in High Schools among girls via the Girls who Code Program as I'd reported in my blog article entitled “Girls Who Code Clubs Christmas eCard Project - Workshop for Software Coding Females creating Evangelion Pilots passing on their knowledge”.

We still have a lot of catching up to do, as all students, not just girls, need to start learning Computer languages as well as Robotics from the Primary School level!  

Robotics Engineers and Computer Programmers - Why Free Housing and Transportation needed to reduce Brain-Drain

Wait, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing?

Could he also be offering housing solution to such graduates in a bid to have them stay in Jamaica and use their skills, in a move similar to West Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament Paul Buchanan plan to train Computer Programmer and build housing for them as reported in my blog article entitled “Computer Programming the Future of Jamaica – How Paul Buchanan plans to jump start the ICT Revolution”?

That would be great, as in order to reduce brain-drain by people leaving for better Jobs abroad after being trained on Robotics (Mechatronics if you will!) and Programming as they're suggesting, providing free or heavily subsidized housing would be a great way to keep them in Jamaica.

Many skilled Jamaicans cannot find proper accommodations and a community setting of like-minded persons to raise their children and practice their craft. It may not be possible to pay such future skilled persons US$3000 per month (albeit I'd love that!) in the next ten (10) years, but giving them free or heavily subsidized Housing and even transportation would reduce the cost of living and working in Jamaica.

Best of all, the skills in Robotics and Programming will be needed to build the next automated Factories to boost manufacturing as well as design Drones for Jamaica's Fledgling Aerospace Industry as well as other areas, such as package delivery as argued in my blog article entitled “JCAA Drones Regulations - Why GOJ Double-Standard suggest Commercial Drone Pilot Licenses are coming”.

Folks, like Australia, low-cost profitable and export-ready manufacturing sector and an Aerospace Industry based on designing Drones require trained Engineers in the Robotics and Programming Fields!

Stay tuned to my blog, as I've now added Robotic, Mechatronics and Programming to my Google Alerts search terms as more articles coming to chart these historic developements!

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