Saturday, July 20, 2019

BTVI teams up with Cisco to empower future innovators

Queen’s College student, Danille Issacs (L) and St. John’s College student, Kaitlyn Micklewhite were two of the girls chosen from the government’s three-year Information and Communications Technology (ICT) program to participate in a one-day Girls Power Tech conference sponsored by tech giant, Cisco. The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) is facilitator of the ICT program.  Photos: BTVI

The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) recently joined a list of other countries encouraging girls and young women to consider educational and career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

A one-day Girls Power Tech conference sponsored by Cisco was held at the BTVI New Providence and Grand Bahama campuses. Cisco is a worldwide leader in IT, networking and cyber security solutions.

Participants had the opportunity to interact with women who are technology professionals, who shared stories about their careers and their vision for a technologically advanced future. The girls were selected from students who are already a part of the government’s three-year Information and Communications Technology (ICT) program which is the brain child of Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Hubert Minnis.

St. John’s College student, Kaitlyn Micklewhite, who is in her second year of the ICT program, has already seen the benefits of the program.

“Not a lot of girls are exposed to IT the way we are being exposed. We are gaining lots of knowledge in cryptocurrency and blockchains, in basic IT, advanced fundamentals and in programming. It has helped me a lot in IT in school. It has been a platform to do better in the subject,” stated Kaitlyn.
“The world is moving with technology and I want to be a part of the advancement and be able to contribute,” added the 15-year-old.

Danielle Issacs also expressed how privileged she feels to be a part of the ICT program, but also to have been selected to participate in the Cisco conference.

“We’re learning more IT and working on blockchains…it’s really hard, but it’s fun. I feel lucky to be chosen to part of the program and would like to use my IT knowledge in business,” said the Queen’s College student.

The girls in New Providence toured the data centre of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), while those in Grand Bahama, toured Cable Bahamas and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC). There was also a video conference with Cisco representative, Monica Gomez.

BTVI’s Chair of Information Technology, Anthony Ramtulla recalled when BTVI’s IT program had about five females to now there being such interest in the IT field that the ICT program has nearly 50% girls.

“I thank the prime minister for making this whole venture possible. This is his idea; BTVI is facilitating it. You are a seed that has been planted to move this country into a new era,” said Mr. Ramtulla.

Mr. Ramtulla believes that out of the program will emerge the nation’s leading experts in Software Engineering, Network Engineering and Information Technology Management.

Meanwhile, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Leroy Sumner, noted that information technology is fundamental in today’s tech-savvy environment.

“Technology runs the world. If you don’t be a part of it, you will be left behind. It is driving everything. You are in the right place at the right time,” said Mr. Sumner.

He also pointed out that the world is changing as previously, certain jobs were associated with males; however, he reminded the girls that the world is their oyster and encouraged them to keep in mind the purpose of being in the program.

“Stay focused. All of the other things will follow; they can wait. Be young, upstanding women. Don’t get into the program and demean yourselves. Take your rightful place. There is a place for you somewhere in The Bahamas, somewhere in the world,” he emphasized.

Shown here are participants of the Cisco Girls Power Tech conference, facilitated by BTVI. From left to right Kalista Miller, Stenasia Wilson and Clarece Moxey. The one-day conference was held at BTVI’s New Providence and Grand Bahama campuses.

The ICT program comes at a time when there is a wide gap in the number of males and females working in the IT field. According to Cisco, women comprise 27% of workers in the computer science, engineering and physics fields in some of the world’s emerging economies.

Last year, 123 students from private and public schools in New Providence were awarded certificates after completing phase one of the three-year ICT program. There were 175 students combined between the program in New Providence and Grand Bahama.