BRAZIL’S VISION: BUILD HUMAN CAPACITY IN SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: Impacting Laurentian University – by Dick DeStefano (January 2014)

Dick DeStefano is the Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association  (SAMSSA). [email protected] 

Science without Borders (SwB)

Funded primarily by the Brazilian Government, the SwB scholarship program was launched in July 2011. The program to send 101,000 Brazilian students to study internationally in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects by 2015. The Government of Brazil is funding 75,000 scholarships and a further 26,000 are being funded by the private sector.

During his official visit to the Federative Republic of Brazil from April 22 to 28, 2012, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced that Canada will welcome 12,000 Brazilian students at the undergraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral levels under the SwB program by 2015.

I would like to applaud the vision and commitment Brazil has demonstrated by implementing such an innovative and brilliant strategy that will make them a major force within the next decade in the global marketplace.

In the past ten years as executive director of SAMSSA I have attended workshops and seminars lamenting the lack of solutions we have in Canada to rebuild our human capacity and solve our long term need for new highly skilled personnel. The Brazilians are showing us that the answer lies in a concentrated investment in its newest generation of undergraduate students.

Canada has no program that I am aware of that makes this long term commitment to its undergraduate students and enhancing our ability to improve productivity and a global understanding of science and technology on a major scale.
Laurentian University has benefitted from this investment having at least 42 Brazilian students in 2013 and 18 still attended classes in the fall of 2013 and interning whenever possible with private companies in Greater Sudbury.

Approximately 33 new students are attending in 2014 from Brazil. This excludes the other 700 international students who are at Laurentian. Many of the students were attracted to the hardrock/underground mining expertise, engineering and research at Laurentian University and the presence of SAMSSA member companies.

The program is a joint effort of both the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) through their respective funding agencies, namely the Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education of Brazil (CAPES) and the National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq).

SwB scholarships are intended mainly for Brazilian students and researchers and entail one year of undergraduate study, PhD internships, full-time PhDs, postdoctoral and professional education awards, senior fellowships and visiting researchers/scholars abroad. The awards cover international airfare, a monthly stipend (housing and living costs), health insurance and, in some cases, a tuition fee package negotiated in advance. It is estimated that the total cost of this innovative program will probably exceed $4 billion dollars when it is completed in 2015.

I wonder what Canada has committed to our students to do something similar and invest in the future?

Brazil is looking to international partners to provide training for Brazilian students and researchers in the SwB program.

I had the good fortune to meet Rubens Der Torossian Torres Junior, a bright 19 year old Brazilian student completing his third year and doing his internship with Kirk Petroski former President of SAMSSA and President of Symboticware in Sudbury. Rubens passed a difficult pretest called Vestibular that assessed his capacity and intelligence to win an award and then was allowed to pick any geographical location globally to develop his skills. It was understood that he would return upon completion and take two more years in a management engineering program and then commit to stay and work in Brazil that matched his time in the program.

What a valuable asset he and the other 101,000 students will bring to Brazil in the forthcoming years. Brazil will become a powerhouse internationally!

Rubens said: ”this experience and at no cost to me personally will provide me and my country to have a whole generation of globally exposed graduates that understand global business and science and contribute to increased productivity and quality of life in Brazil in years to come.”

This program should be duplicated in Canada. We should have the same relative commitment that Brazil has demonstrated if Canadian students are to work on the global stage.

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