J'cans urged to prepare for fourth industrial revolution

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, is urging Jamaicans to prepare themselves to benefit from the opportunities to emerge from the fourth industrial revolution, which, he says, the entire world is already experiencing.

This fourth wave of industrial development is characterised by a fusion of digitalisation and automation in order to make machines smart, interactive and easy to use.

It builds on the third revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century, and involves the use of electronics and information technology to automate production.

“These new technologies will have a significant impact on the way we live and work. In fact, we are seeing, every day, that new types of robots are being built; robots that will now interact with humans. This revolution will challenge all our industries. It will change our economy and it will definitely change our lives,” the minister said.

He noted that skills will be needed to bridge the gap between engineering and computer science, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Therefore, Jamaicans need to start seeking the necessary training that will make them qualified for jobs.

“We have to upgrade existing skills, reskill and learn to collaborate and coexist with intelligent machines. This technological revolution is multifaceted and its implications are transformational. With digitalisation, opportunities will be created for entrepreneurs and businesses while bringing enormous benefits to consumers,” he added.

The minister was speaking at the launch of the Dr Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) last week.
The centre will facilitate training in 3D laser scanning and advanced manufacturing, including drone technology.

It is the first and only innovation centre in the English-speaking Caribbean that will facilitate research and development aimed at digital transformation.

It seeks to attract talented student designers, creators and engineers, and will be available to students, faculty and industry practitioners who want to utilise additive manufacturing for co-innovation in a research-based environment. The centre will perform a variety of rapid prototyping and low-volume part manufacturing.

Wheatley welcomed the centre and pointed to the need for other such facilities in the island.
“I believe that this Centre provides an opportunity for us to explore our innovative capacity as a people. We need to move away from being mere consumers of technology, to become innovators of technology,” he said.

The Dr Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing has the most sophisticated fleet of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers in Jamaica.

There are 16 such printers, including one professional-grade printer used in manufacturing environments by big brands such as General Motors, BMW, Boeing and others.

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