Seawater purification design project wins BETA camp competition

A system to purify and filter seawater on a large scale to provide free water to Bahamians earned the team of Azariah Sweeting, Caitlin McWilliam, Gianna Paul, Jahan Chatlani-Pickstock and Kendal Ferguson a win at the Bahamas Engineering and Technology Advancement (BETA) camp final design project competition.

Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to design a solution on the theme Bahamas 2050 to close out the BETA camp.

The second-place team of Coburn Sands, Elisha Phillips Jr., Promise Joshua and Riley Symonette designed a bus system that will run off of biofuel to transform public transit issues in the country and provide a more sustainable fuel option that could also be self-sufficient. Their design requires no imports, and could develop a new industry for exports from the fuel.

The BETA camp returned to in-person programming at University of The Bahamas (UB) after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

“After two years of virtual programming, it was wonderful to return to in-person programming alongside our various corporate and community partners,” said D’Andre Wilson-Ihejirika, BETA vice president. “As we expand our programming, we look forward to continuing to work alongside our partners and welcome opportunities to work alongside companies and organizations across the country.”

Over 55 seventh through ninth-grade Bahamian students were invited to the UB campus to learn about various fields in engineering and technology. They were taught by Bahamian professionals in their respective fields.

In addition to learning about civil engineering, students also had the option to learn electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, software engineering, biomedical engineering, and aerospace engineering, with the introduction of a new discipline this year, data science.

The focus on emerging technologies aligned with the platinum sponsor for the camp, FTX, and longtime bronze sponsor Cloud Carib.

“Part of our mandate is to help create and mold the next generation of tech industry professionals and we take that responsibility very seriously,” said Stelios Xeroudakis, Cloud Carib founder and chief technology officer. “We know students benefit from an opportunity to spend time with mentors in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields, and we want to continue being a part of these incredible initiatives.”

Nick Dean, principal of Integrated Building Services (IBS) Ltd., whose civil engineer, Deshinka Bowe, has been a member of the BETA team since 2018, said the camp aligns closely with IBS core values and dedication to promoting an interest in engineering and the applied sciences in the youth, in particular young females. He said the IBS team will continue to support the efforts and welcome any opportunity to participate in future events.

The camp’s focus on the other STEM disciplines like chemical and mechanical engineering, appealed to Sun Oil, an integrated energy supplier.

“Sun Oil Limited remains committed to fueling growth for people through our investment in young people and the communities that we serve,” said Fabian Fernander. “As technology continues to develop and shape the world we live in, we recognize this as an essential educational pillar and area of focus for youth investment. We care about our community and recognize the importance of supporting the development of our future leaders.”

Another longtime supporter of the BETA Camp, URCA (Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority), noted the inclusivity of the camp, with a focus on bringing young girls as students from the Family Islands.

“The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority has been a supporter of the BETA Camp since its inception and considers the mission of the camp to strengthen STEM education across the nation critical to our country’s continued advancement. As the regulator for electronic communications, we support STEM programs like BETA Camp that assist in educating young people and encouraging them to enter the STEM field,” said Arnette Ingraham, corporate and consumer relations manager at URCA. 

“We are particularly impressed that the camp continues to attract not only young minds in New Providence but in the Family Islands as well. In the last three years, we have seen the rapid growth of digital societies and, despite our archipelagic make-up, it is important that none of our students are left behind and have an equal opportunity to succeed.”

Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi, UB vice president of academic affairs, said they believe that to create a more inclusive and quality education for our students, it is important for the university to engage with communities and offer opportunities for collaborative experiences that serve the needs of the country.

“I thoroughly enjoyed assisting the organizers and administrators of BETA Camp with identifying suitable classrooms and laboratory spaces as well as authorizing access to the university’s high-speed network for the duration of the camp,” said Woodside-Oriakhi.

In addition to learning in their technical disciplines, campers also experienced field trips. Camp sponsor New Providence Ecology Park (NPEP) showcased the science and engineering of waste management with a tour of their eco-friendly site.

Duhiza Smith, NPEP corporate secretary, said they are committed to empowering students to become the changemakers of tomorrow.

Camp sponsor, Aliv, showcased electrical and civil engineering aspects at their site on a BETA camp field trip. 

“Overall, I can see the need and desire for this camp. The kids were engaged and the environment was positive. There will definitely be long-term benefits that the kids will take away from this camp,” said Lauren Campbell, director of engineering at Aliv.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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