Science and technology should play bigger role in Seychelles, visiting Seychellois expert says
Seychelles should explore the possibility of setting up a laboratory for science and technology so that students interested in the subjects can gain firsthand experience, said Ralph Etienne-Cummings, a Seychellois recently elected to the AIMBE College of Fellows.
Etienne-Cummings, who is based in Washington, made the statement after his visit with President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Tuesday.
During their meeting, Etienne-Cummings and President Ramkalawan discussed the role that science and technology has in the country and how to encourage students at school to develop an interest in the field.
“In Seychelles we have students with great potential. I had the chance to give a lecture on artificial intelligence in one of the schools and the questions that I was asked by these students were very probing,” said the professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Last Thursday, the University of John Hopkins announced that Etienne-Cummings has been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows (AIMBE). Election to the AIMBE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biomedical engineers. It honours those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine research, practice, or education.
The University said that as a pioneer for the past three decades in neuromorphic engineering and legged locomotion, Etienne-Cummings’s innovations have the potential to produce computers that can perform recognition tasks as effortlessly and efficiently as humans can, and that he has developed prosthetics than can seamlessly interface with the human body to restore functionality after injury or disease.
Etienne-Cummings added that businesses can also use the laboratory for science and technology facility if they require certain equipment or spare parts that are not readily available on the market, instead of purchasing abroad. This can help to cut back on importation.
Discussion between the president and Etienne-Cummings also focused on Seychellois who are seeing success abroad and how they can come back to share their expertise with Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
“Often time we get students with good abilities and outstanding certificates, and when they come back, the government becomes one of the main outlets where they are absorbed for employment. It would have been great if there was a stronger business environment that depends on technology, which can in return make use of these capable brains,” said Etienne-Cummings.
Another point discussed is how Seychelles can further integrate science and technology in businesses that will enable them to upgrade and give a better service.
“For instance, I see a lot of people standing at the bus stop every day. Life would have been much easier if there was a digital app in place that can alert an individual of when a bus is coming in a certain area so that one leaves home in time to catch the coming bus,” he said.
The availability of resources to develop science and technology was also discussed and Etienne-Cummings pointed out that although the internet is readily available the price remains too high and this is impeding the progress of technological development.