Dominica’s cassava bread and virgin coconut oil industries are expected to benefit from a project being undertaken in Dominica by students from the University of Dayton Engineers in Technology and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service (ETHOS) Program.
It is hoped that at the end of a 10 week stint on island by the students, the products from these industries will become export ready.
“We are hoping that the products will be enhanced,” said the PRO for the Dominica Manufacturers Association (DMA) Severin Mc Kenzie, “and you will be able to give your ideas and to see how you could work with the Cassava bread people and the Believers Multi-purpose Cooperative in making our virgin coconut oil hopefully, export ready for the international market for the next 10 weeks.”
McKenzie made the remarks at a press conference which was held at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium on Monday as a welcome reception for the students.
He said the DMA will be looking at the other manufacturers and other sectors that may be interested in taking advantage of the opportunities that exist with the ETHOS program.
His idea of using the US student’s influence to remove the fear of engineering from Dominican students, and move the DMA forward is supported by Executive member of the DMA, Gail Defoe. She said there were some challenges in the engineering department of the manufacturing sector. “As you go around you will find that the challenge that we have in manufacturing as a manufacturing producer myself, is with mechanization, is exactly with engineering.”
According to her, most of the equipment that is used is “way beyond our scale” as manufacturers are constantly buying equipment that is far oversized for what they produce. “So, I am so happy to hear you say that you are open to also looking out and seeing what other needs there are in the country,” she said. “Because as a member of the DMA, if we are to be in the 21st century in production, then we must mechanize, and we must be innovative in our mechanization, which is where I think you are going to lend a very big hand. So this is a very exciting time for Dominica, and manufacturing in Dominica,” Defoe added.
The initiative began in November last year when Linton Scotland who is a Trustee of the Board of the University of Dayton approached McKenzie on the ETHOS program, which he said he quickly accepted.
The students, Zak Ali, a mechanical engineer, Gabriel Porro, a finance consultant and entrepreneur and chemical engineers Thomas Bennett and Mariana Lopes, are currently located in Woodfordhill.
They said they are hoping to expand the program to have a base in Roseau and one in Portsmouth.
They arrived here on Saturday, have been making their ground work and seeing first-hand the production of these products in the Marigot and Carib Territory.
ETHOS was founded in 2001 by a team of engineering students for the purpose of taking engineering curriculum beyond the classroom, and even beyond the US. Students who participate in the program engage in service-learning experiences and technical projects across the globe.