The UWI Cave Hill Campus and Microsoft offer regional app building workshop

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Cave Hill Campus is teaming up with Microsoft to host a major tech forum, PowerBarbados 2020, which will give participants—with little or no experience in coding—an opportunity to develop business solutions.

The event will be held over two days: Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 13 at the Walcott Warner Theatre of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, as well as online via Microsoft Teams. It is open primarily to students and business people from Barbados and across the region.
David Smith, IT Specialist at The UWI Cave Hill, who spearheaded the initiative, said the goal is to empower people through the acquisition of app making skills.

“It’s important especially in this current era, where a lot of people are displaced from their jobs. Many now have to be able to work in a virtual environment and do things that allow them to make money to feed their family. What we’re going to be teaching will give you the skills to operate in a global market from home, instead of waiting to try to go into an office that’s now shut to do a job that no longer exists. You will be able to work on your own developing app solutions and offering them to people,” the network engineer explained.

Dona Sarkar, Principal Advocate at Microsoft, explained that PowerBarbados 2020 also seeks to increase the tech giant’s presence in the region.

“We at Microsoft have historically not had a lot of engagement in the Caribbean. We want to change that, starting with PowerBarbados and extending it to go on forever,” she said. “It’s going to be an inspirational event where everyone will learn what tech can do for them to make their life better and it will be delivered by three of us who are from Microsoft but are here on the island right now,” the software engineer added.

L-R: Doug Watkins, Dona Sarkar, Principal Professor Eudine Barriteau, and David Fowler

Barbadian David Fowler, a Partner Software Architect at Microsoft for the past 12 years explained that the event that will also feature compatriots Akil Burgess and Roger Roach on a panel where the trio offers participants an opportunity to learn more about the tech industry.
“On Saturday we’re going to be talking about the careers of a number of Barbadians who left the country and worked in big tech companies; [have them] share their experiences and how they got into coding in the first place; help encourage and inspire people so that they can do these things. A lot has changed over the last 12 years so students can ask them questions about what they’ve seen and what they know, to learn about their experiences,” he noted.

Doug Watkins, also a Partner Software Architect at Microsoft, is looking forward to the event.
“This weekend I’ll be hosting an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session. Topics can range from careers in tech; working at Microsoft, Google, Amazon, anything related to development for technology. So really just be prepared to engage and talk about anything that’s related to the tech industry,” Watkins stated.
Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor the Most Honourable Eudine Barriteau, said PowerBarbados 2020 is timely given the current push to grow the region’s digital economy.

“This is the kind of collaboration that one expects of a Smart Campus and The UWI, Cave Hill certainly welcomes this partnership with Microsoft. It is also an opportunity for students and entrepreneurs to explore the many opportunities for growth and development,” she said.

This Saturday’s session will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Caribbean), while on Sunday December 13 will be a day-long Hackathon, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Caribbean), where attendees will use the Microsoft Power Platform to develop solutions to real-world business problems.

Kindly note that all interested persons MUST register to attend and limited spaces are available.
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