Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 7th 2015 Contents 8 UWI TODAY – SUNDAY 7TH JUNE, 2015
Here is what
the UWI IBM
interns had to say
IBM Project 2008: Design of a pin array
controller for sensory perception and virtual
My greatest fear of doing a PhD, especially in the
context of a small-island state, was that I would be
bound to university teaching for the rest of my life.
The internship experience threw those thoughts out
quite quickly. It showed me that research could be
exciting, but more so, relevant to everyday life.
IBM PROJECT 2009: Reducing parasitic series
resistance in silicon solar cells
The IBM experience is priceless. Words will barely
describe the manner in which those few months
can drastically change one’s perspectives. Research
is the heart and soul of everything technology
is built on. We have smarter phones, faster
computers, smaller robots, better medicine, where
does it all come from? Who does it? Who can do
it? For me the answer to the last question was most
significant: I can do it.
IBM PROJECT 2010: Voltage stress dielectric
characterization for CMOS interconnects
My ideal career after my next phase of education
would be something that allows me the exposure
in either Research and Development or Design.
Eventually I hope to become an entrepreneur.
IBM allowed me to get a taste of research and it
has given me a hunger for something outside the
typical role of an engineer in the Caribbean.
IBM PROJECT 2012: Financial control and
organizational governance in Cloud
Prior to IBM, I had my eye set on working in
the oil and gas industry or in the generation/
distribution side of the energy sector, but
throughout the internship programme, I came to
realize there were many more applications for my
experience even within the energy sector. Learning
about IBM’s Smarter Energy and Smart Grid
projects while working there, inspired to explore
those avenues within the energy sector.
IBM PROJECT 2014: Design and
Implementation of App to Aesthetically
Critique Dishes on Google Glass
I had considered changing my degree, at times even
quitting my studies altogether. I was not happy
with my projected path. I love the Arts, and to me,
my STEM degree suffocated that part of me. It is
no understatement that my experience at IBM
changed the way I perceived my education and
my life altogether. My internship project combined
aspects of Engineering and Culinary Arts, and
proved to me that there is Art underlying every
Dr. Nicholas Fuller explains the internship to students.
The relationship began back in 2008 when Jevon Beckles
was chosen as the intern to join the IBM TJ Watson
Research Headquarters in Yorktown Heights, New York.
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
(DECE) at UWI St. Augustine had been approached not
long before by IBM Master Inventor, Dr. Nicholas Fuller,
Research Staff Member and Manager at the research
facility. IBM Research wanted to offer an annual 10-12
week internship to level-two students, hoping to expose
undergraduates to their sophisticated industrial research
in the hope that it would persuade them to continue along
the engineering research trajectory.
At the time, Dr. Kim Mallalieu was the Head of the
DECE, seen as the top performing STEM Department at
The UWI. The DECE was also well known for the rigour
of the undergraduate degree that prepared students well as
regional industry leaders and had attained accreditation
from the IET. So when Dr. Fuller selected Jevon Beckles, it
was no surprise that he performed exceptionally well in the
IBM environment. It paved the way for all the others who
have since followed. The internship was offered again for
another year, and has been available since.
Dr. Akash Pooransingh, a Lecturer in Computer Systems
at the DECE, has been the main coordinator between IBM
Research and The UWI. In January 2015, a Joint Study
Agreement was signed between the IBM Corporation and
The UWI for one year, naming Dr Pooransingh and Ying
Li of IBM as its Technical Coordinators.
One of the terms of the JSA is that, “IBM grants to
the University an irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide
and fully paid-up license to use, execute, reproduce and
distribute internally, the IBM Software, and any other
copyrightable materials furnished or developed by IBM
under this agreement.”
The immediate effect has been to allow the 2014
intern, Hannah Abdool, “access to cutting edge research
components developed and patented at IBM Research to
be incorporated as an element of her own research project
at UWI,” says Dr. Pooransingh. “This is significant as it was
never done previously and UWI benefits from having IBM
Research as a research collaborator. Before this, the interns
were not able to share or even continue to work on the
research done at IBM with UWI.”
His enthusiasm is shared by Dr Mallalieu.
“The Department treasures the relationship it has built
with IBM Research over the past seven years,” she said.
“At the host in Yorktown Heights, our interns have made
The UWI, their country and the region proud through
exemplary conduct and contributions. At home, their shared
experience has heightened the interest of other students in
intellectual leadership and careers in research. Staff linkages
have also triggered thriving lines of research.”
IBM Research Interns Reprogrammed
Students say their lives have been changed
From left, Hannah Abdool, Dr Nicholas Fuller, Dr Akash Pooransingh and Jevon Beckles at the
IBM Research Facility in New York.
SUNDAY 7TH JUNE, 2015 – UWI TODAY 17
Towards Social Integration: Rights, Roles, Recognition of Persons with Disabilities Conference
There is widespread misconception that disabled
people have no sexual attractions or urges, cannot perform
sexually, are sexually irresponsible or are oversexed. This
leads to a tendency to infantilize the disabled embodiment,
denouncing sexual curiosity, and inadequate sexual health
services. All of which indicate the deficit embedded in
the social values towards disabled people and the false
dependency notion that those with impaired bodies are
incompetent, passive beings of whom things must be done
for, and to.
Symptomatic of the way that the rights to full citizenship
are denied for disabled people, is the widespread prevalence
of sexual oppression and exploitation with disabled women
being assaulted, raped and abused twice as much as non-
disabled women, and the more disabled the woman the
greater her risk of being assaulted (Cusitar 1994, Simpson
& Best 1991, Sobsey 1998). Sexuality is the second most
important human drive after survival (Owens De Than
2015) yet so many are afraid to speak openly about it. But as
the incidents of sexual and intimate abuse are so prevalent
isn’t it time for frank discussions and risk reduction actions
on this silent taboo?
Below is just a snapshot of what some disabled people
Joyce a 21 year old with severe physical impairments
was plied with alcohol and raped by a neighbour. The police
officers refused to take further action because according
to them “she can’t understand what happen to she, she
retarded.” The only villager to chastise the perpetrator was
Simon the parent of a disabled son.
Four siblings who had been raped were taken into
a home for displaced youngsters. The matron found the
13 year old masturbating and relayed that she “beat the
nastiness out of him and send him to bed without food as
Carol’s family take her to weekly prayers. The Pastor
squeezes her breasts and genital area because he believes
she has a sex demon.
So who are the abusers? Perpetrators are people we
know and trust, they live in and amongst us, are the people
we work and socialise with – according to the Out of the
Shadows 2011 Report, 97% to 99% of victims know their
The consequences of sexual exploitation range from
unwanted pregnancies, to emotional distress leading to
misuse of drink or drugs, destructive behaviours and
suicide. It carries a degree of shame and guilt where some
victims believe that they may have enjoyed the experience
thus creating mistrust and in some instances destroys
families. As a result, it is clear that more needs to be done
to safeguard, protect, educate and support disabled people.
But try as we might, resisting the conversations only
increases the vulnerability of our disabled population.
Although Trinidad and Tobago is intending to ratify the
UNCRDP shortly there needs to be widespread awareness
raising in all sectors and robust sex education for the entire
population that addresses gender stereotypes, cultural
sexualisation leading to a cultural change that develops and
promotes positive healthy sexual behaviours.
One perpetrator said he took advantage of the victim’s
lack of mobility demonstrating that the sexual exploitation is
also about vulnerability and opportunity. These can be done
TOWARDS SOCIAL INTEGRATION
Sexual Oppression and Exploitation
BY DR YANSIE ROLSTON
This is a modified version of a paper presented by Dr Yansie Rolston at a conference hosted by
The UWI Network and Outreach for Disability Education and Sensitization (NODES) and the Disability Studies Unit (DSU), UWI, St Augustine on April 23 and 24, 2015.
The conference theme was “Towards Social Integration: Rights, Roles, Recognition of Persons with Disabilities.”
hand in hand with a number of risk reduction measures
while simultaneously addressing the social ills that are
harbouring the perpetrators.
Disability sexuality should be a specific theme within
overall sex education, disability strategies, and crime and
violence prevention processes together as part of a multi-
partnership approach to the social and structural barriers
that prevent disabled people from accessing services. There
needs to be investment in accessible services that responds
to the needs of disabled people, that includes quality sexual
health care in accessible formats – easy to read, simple
English, large print, electronic text, braille – and the needs
of disabled people ought to be catered for in HIV/AIDS
systems. There should also be independent scrutiny of social
care institutional settings and robust reporting frameworks
that ensure justice will be exercised and hefty sanctions
On a more individual level here are a few tips:
Be mindful of one’s own sexual behaviours. A group of
adult women were seen gyrating on a young teenager while
others laughed and joked about it.
Look, listen and take action.
Encourage consent and feelings of discomfort
conversations about the body and touch, remembering the
mouth is also an orifice for sexual abuse.
Do not compromise freedom and sexual autonomy but
encourage safe, healthy consensual relationships and allow
opportunities to share experiences.
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