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Creating a STEM-based Economic Pillar for the Caribbean: A Blueprint, 2019

Author(s): Cardinal Warde and Dinah Sah
  • Type: Article
  • Researcher: Other Researchers
  • Timeline: 2010s
  • Affiliation: Multiple


Caribbean countries need to work their way out of debt. Most Caribbean economies continue to rely on tourism. In a few countries, oil and natural gas underpin the economy. The financial services industry, which had helped to bolster some of these economies, has shrunk in recent years. Graduates with engineering degrees continue to have severe challenges in finding employment in their field within the Caribbean region. This human resource, for the most part, is wasted. The region needs to put this valuable talent to work by attracting and creating more technology-based companies whose products and services can be sold on global markets. A blueprint is proposed for building a STEM-based economic pillar that would rival tourism in its ability to bring in foreign exchange and create more technology-related employment opportunities. The concept includes models for: (a) attracting and home-growing more technology companies; (b) providing the technical support and infrastructure that such companies will need; (c) attracting more Caribbean scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs from the diaspora, as well as more world-renowned technology academicians to the region; and (d) reforming STEM education to support the development of the proposed STEM-based economic pillar.

About the Authors

Cardinal Warde, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on materials, devices and systems for optical information processing. He holds ten key patents on spatial light modulators, displays, and optical information processing systems. He is a co-inventor of the microchannel spatial light modulator, membrane-mirror light shutters based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), an optical bistable device, and a family of charge-transfer plate spatial light modulators.

After finishing high school in Barbados in 1965, Warde left for the United States. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Stevens Institute of Technology (1969) and MPhil (1971) and PhD (1974) degrees, both in physics, from Yale University. In 1974, he joined the faculty of MIT's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1974 as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Dinah Sah '81 is the Co-Executive Director of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), Director of the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE), President of CADSTI-New England, and a member of the Governing Council of CADSTI-CSF. SPISE is an annual intensive four-week enrichment residential summer program held at the University of West Indies in Barbados for promising Caribbean high-school students 16 and 17 years of age who are interested in pursuing careers in science and engineering. Dr. Sah received a B.S. in Biology from MIT, her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Harvard University, and her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School. 

Warde, Cardinal and Dinah Sah. "Creating a STEM-based Economic Pillar for the Caribbean: A Blueprint." Journal of Education and Development in the Caribbean, Vol. 18 No. 1 2019.