Why Dart supports STEM education

Science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM, are at the heart of Dart Minds Inspired, a series of educational and community initiatives and sponsored events designed to inspire and engage Cayman’s youngest minds to excel. Dart’s focus on STEM is rooted in the Dart family’s belief that these subjects are fundamental building blocks for success in school and life.

This year, Dart partnered with Aureum Re, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), Digicel, and Health City Cayman to add new robotics programming to Minds Inspired’s ever-expanding schedule of annual events.

Mark VanDevelde, Dart’s chief executive officer, says the five companies share a common goal in ensuring the next generation is prepared to fill the jobs of the future.

“The mission of Minds Inspired is to provide our young people with unique STEM learning experiences that prepare them for the careers of the future and the challenges of tomorrow. This partnership leverages our combined financial resources and diverse areas of expertise to create learning and innovation opportunities for middle and high school students” he says.

Building skills beyond the classroom

In addition to teaching students valuable technical skills, Mr. VanDevelde says STEM subjects also provide students valuable life skills.

“The seven values that have guided the Dart family’s business operations for three generations include ‘Dedication & Industriousness’, ‘Innovation’, ‘Reason & Logic’, ‘Teamwork & Respect for the Individual’, all values that STEM embodies,” he says. “Through STEM, young people learn how to overcome challenges through teamwork, innovative thinking, and a strong, personal work ethic.”

President and chief executive officer of Caribbean Utilities Company Richard Hew says the skills learned through STEM help prepare students for a variety of career paths.

“Research now suggests that STEM skills underpin jobs in every field, including accounting, logistics, policy development, education, policing and market research, among many others.” he says. “STEM-based industries are among the fastest growing in the world and we need to ensure that, in Cayman, jobs are becoming available in these areas, and that we are equipping persons to be able to fill these jobs.”

First Robotics Cayman Islands
Dart Minds Inspired has partnered with Aureum Re, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), Digicel, and Health City Cayman to bring FIRST robotics programmes to high school students in the Cayman Islands. From left, CUC President & CEO Richard Hew, Health City Cayman Global Sales Manager Kafara Augustine, Aureum RE CEO David Towriss, Digicel CEO Raul Nicholson-Coe, and Dart CEO Mark VanDevelde, are joined by “Kraken”, the robot designed by local students to compete in the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge in Mexico.

Future-proofing through diversity 

While the financial and tourism industries have long been economic mainstays for Cayman, Mr. VanDevelde says diversification is essential to Cayman’s sustainable economic development.

“To ensure the Cayman Islands remains a regional leader in terms of quality of life, economic diversification is essential,” he says. “Career opportunities in STEM are increasing every year and we need to ensure we have qualified, local professionals ready to fill those roles.”

Shomari Scott, Health City Director of Business Development, says he looks forward to a day when Cayman does not have to look outside its own borders for medical professionals.

“The long-term goal of the future as envisioned by our founder is to create forthcoming generations of Caymanian doctors, nurses and medical technologists, and STEM education is the cornerstone of this effort,” he says.

Aureum Re’s chief executive officer David Towriss says emerging industries will create more opportunities for young Caymanians.

“STEM will reduce the likelihood of a ‘brain drain’ as young talent can meet their career aspirations locally,” he says. “As a reinsurance company, we need to be able to price and model our products in order to create value for our stakeholders. We simply don’t have a viable business without talented people with a strong grasp of mathematics.”

Take a chance on STEM

According to the Pew Research Center, employment in STEM occupations has grown more than 79% since 1990, and STEM training in college is associated with higher earnings, regardless of whether the individual ends up working in a STEM occupation or not.

Digicel’s chief executive officer Raul Nicholson-Coe says local opportunities are increasing constantly and young people must be prepared to rise to the challenge.

“Now, more than ever, young people have the chance to get a foothold in the industries that will shape Cayman’s future in an increasingly technology-driven age,” he says. “Cayman’s young people today have opportunities the generations before did not through programmes like Minds Inspired, summer internships and careers fairs. My advice to our young people is to seize the many opportunities that will be available in Cayman and across the globe as a result of the advancements in technology, which will affect all sectors of our economy.”

Mr. VanDevelde says his biggest piece of advice to young people interested in a career in STEM is to take advantage of every available learning opportunity.

“We are pleased to see so many students embracing robotics, whether it’s the SeaPerch Underwater Robotics or the FIRST Robotics programmes. We are preparing our future workforce for the innovations ahead of them,” he says.