The University of Technology Jamaica (UTech) has big plans. After a recently completed expansion and enhancement project financed by the Caribbean Development Bank, enrollment at the 60-year-old university has increased.
The project has cemented hopes that the college can be a springboard to drive education, training, and certification, by adding to the number of Jamaicans entering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The UTech Enhancement Project commenced in 2007 when the Government of Jamaica signed a loan agreement with CDB for US26 million to fund the development project. The government undertook this investment as a grant to UTech, Jamaica to which the University provided counterpart funding of US17 million.
“We are graduating overall, across all of our universities less than 500 engineers, so the STEM areas are totally underrepresented,” said Senator Ruel Reid, minister of education, youth and information, Jamaica, while delivering the keynote address at the official opening of the new facilities last Thursday.
“We have to lead a revolution to infuse STEM and TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) in the curriculum so we make science and technology something that our students aspire to. And we as Caribbean people and Jamaicans can conquer the world of math and science. And the University of Technology will become the new MIT of the Caribbean and the Latin American region,” he said.
The shared facilities building is a learning and teaching space for all colleges and faculties and comprises 20 SMART classrooms, three state-of-the-art lecture theatres, computer laboratories, sanitary amenities and an amphitheater.
“We recognize the importance of development of the physical infrastructure of our campus in attracting both local and overseas students, and we are committed to ensuring that our facilities are of a standard for which we can all be proud,” UTech’s President Stephen Vasciannie said.
Professor Vasciannie noted that the partnership established among UTech, the Government of Jamaica and the Caribbean Development Bank is key to advancing education and development in Jamaica, particularly as the country works towards attaining its Vision 2030 development goals.
Stephen Lawrence, operations officer (Civil Engineer), CDB reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to advancing education in the region.
“Given CDB’s commitment to educational advancement within the region, we are pleased to have partnered with the Government of Jamaica in enhancing its capacity to provide quality tertiary education, through the expansion of facilities and upgrading of services, at the University of Technology, Jamaica, under the UTech Enhancement Project,” he said.