Female innovators and inventors dominated the overall entries and the junior category of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Scientific Ingenuity, while male innovators took home the top honours in the senior category.
Hosted by the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST), the biennial awards were held on Saturday evening at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain.
Minister of Science and Technology Dr Rupert Griffith apologised for the absence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was said to be a victim of widespread flight cancellations due to a snow storm in the United States. The PM returned home yesterday.
In his address, Griffith congratulated the 65 honourees and emphasised the importance of science and technology to the economy and T&T’s overall development as a nation. The minister pledged to expedite and champion upcoming developments such as the National Science Centre and the ICT-based Community Access Centres and also reiterated our responsibility as a nation to engage in the continual development and application of science and technology.
He said: “As the nation which invented the only new acoustic musical instrument of the twentieth century — the steelpan, Trinidad and Tobago cannot be a country that is only engaged in transferring and applying technology. We must design, produce and sell our own technology. We must create our own solutions, as opposed to searching for answers beyond our country’s borders.”
The Prime Minister’s Awards for Scientific Ingenuity is a competitive scheme that was introduced in 2000 to augment and highlight the intrinsic creativity of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. This year, over $1,000,000 in prizes were awarded in the categories of Scientific Innovation and Invention and Scientific Creative Solutions for juniors and seniors.
In the senior category of the Scientific Innovation and Invention competition, designs for a sustainable hurricane and earthquake resistant house created by Richard Patrick Clarke tied for the first-place prize with a patented prototype for a mounted reciprocal trailing tracking guide for portable powered machine, as created by Maurice Peter Vidale.
“I am really very much overwhelmed by all of this,” said Vidale, a humble gardener from Santa Cruz, whose innovation helps to reduce accidents and increase efficiency in wood cutting. “I really didn’t do anything much. It was really Buddie Miller who did everything in terms of the patenting and getting it in the competition, but I give all glory to God regardless because I would not have had Buddie on my side, or have even come up with the idea if it wasn’t for God.”
The two first-place innovators will each receive a cash prize, in addition to the stylish awards which were collected at the event. In the senior category of the Scientific Creative Solutions competition, another male duo also shared the top spot: with Dominic Gordon and Ruel Elis working together to create the nation’s first Mobile OSH Inspection APP.
Amongst the juniors, two ASJA Girls’ (Charlieville) High School pupils claimed victory, with Deemarie Gordon winning the Scientific Creative Solutions competition with her Safe Oil and Water Paint Remover and Esther Crystal Njonge winning the Scientific Innovation and Invention competition with an eco-powered light.
The venue was adorned for this special night with display booths in the welcome foyer and to the back of the room, as well as large screens on either side of the stage to show video presentations of the entrants in all four categories.
Musical interludes were provided by pannists, Dane and Denilson Gulston, violinist Anselm Walters and the singing and dancing team of Rana and Susan Mohip.
Former NIHERST chairman Prof Prakash Persad delivered the welcome and opening remarks, while current NIHERST president, Maureen Manchouck closed the proceedings.
Andre Thompson and Anna Kadir served as the masters of ceremonies for the event.