As part of a leadership development and educational support programme that will bolster their secondary school studies, twenty (20) future young leaders from Point Fortin and surrounding communities were ‘given access’ to some of the complex principles of robotics and automated systems and also the graceful paintbrush techniques of modern art.
The occasion was a recent field trip for the annual vacation camp for junior members of the Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme, the flagship educational initiative sponsored by LNG production company Atlantic. This year’s field trip took the youngsters to the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) for a lecture by Professor Prakash Persad, Head of the Mechatronics Department; and then to the Love U Art Studio, for a relaxing practical session with artist Salima Edwards.
Marlon Grant, Team Lead, Sustainability explained that this year’s vacation camp theme highlighted technology and its complete integration into modern-day life, along with the camp’s usual agenda of sessions in life skills, stress management and recreational activities.
At Atlantic, we want the Point Fortin’s Finest students to be exposed to some of the careers and opportunities available in science and technology, and we also want to help build their competence as prospective entrepreneurs,” Grant said. “This would be in addition to the other things they will be learning on the vacation camp and indeed on the wider Programme about how to be better students and better leaders.
At the UTT visit, the students paid keen attention to Professor Persad’s description of the evolution of technology and its benefits to society. “The computing power in your smart phones in your pockets is more computing power than NASA had when they sent the Apollo to the moon,” Persad told the future leaders. “It gives you an idea of how technology has changed.
Persad’s explanation of mechatronics – the discipline that merges mechanical and electrical engineering – caught the students’ attention, as well as his descriptions of mechatronics at work: electrical construction tools; optical image stabilization systems in digital cameras; and industrial robots.
Darion Seuraj, student of Presentation College – San Fernando found the lecture’s focus on mechanical devices eye-opening, especially as it intersected with his enthusiasm for computer technology. “”I can see how mechatronics could fit with some of the computer subjects I plan to study,”” Seuraj said.
At the Love U Art Studio, artist Salima Edwards taught the students how art could also be used as a relaxation technique after the stress of exams. Putting this theory into practice, the young leaders learned how to paint by trying to duplicate the painting “Relaxation”.
Lara Bharat, student at St Joseph Convent – San Fernando described the experience as tranquil and comfortable. “”It felt like I knew how to do art, even though I don’t,”” Bharat said.
Established in 2000, the Atlantic Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme admits the ten students from Point Fortin and environs with the highest scores in the SEA examinations. The Programme provides financial support for seven years of secondary school and three years of university/tertiary education. The students are also given the opportunity to participate in annual vacation camps that develop their life skills and leadership competencies, which is run for Juniors (13-15 years) and Seniors (15-18 years). A World-of-Work internship during the July/August vacation is open to tertiary level students among the Point Fortin’s Finest. The Programme also features mentorship of incoming inductees by select senior participants.
With the 2018 intake of 10 students, 199 students currently participate in the programme. The 2019 cohort will be announced in mid-August and formally inducted into the Programme at a ceremony carded for September.