New Fortress energises UWI’s Math Olympiad with $1m

mathematical competitions targeting secondary- and primary-level students are, for the third-consecutive year, receiving $1 million in sponsorship from the New Fortress Energy Foundation.

New Fortress Energy Vice-President Verona Carter presented the title sponsorship cheque recently to the organising committee of the two national mathematics competitions during a brief ceremony at Mona campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) which organises and executes the Junior and Senior Mathematical Olympiads under the wider Jamaican Mathematical Olympiad (JMO).

The Senior Olympiad, which started in 2010, is open to high school students (grades 7-11), while the Junior Olympiad, which was added in 2011, is open to upper primary/prep students (grades 4–6).

Professor Ian Boxill, deputy principal at The UWI, Mona, welcomed the sponsorship and commended New Fortress for its consistent and steadfast commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

“With mathematics at the core of every STEM discipline, the aim of the Mathematical Olympiads is to target students from very early to help them develop a better appetite and appreciation for the subject. In return, we hope to see a higher quality of mathematics students enrolling in our various STEM disciplines here at The UWI,” a news release from New Fortress quotes Boxill.

“I commend the Department of Mathematics, under the leadership of Dr [Nagarani] Ponakala, for maintaining this valuable and strategic partnership with New Fortress Energy and the various schools across the island,” added Boxill.

Commenting on the partnership, Carter said it was important to the company “because we recognise that mathematics is the cornerstone of nation-building, and we are committed to the sustainable socio-economic development of Jamaica. So, by investing in programmes like the Mathematical Olympiads, we are helping our next generation of critical-thinking leaders and innovators to develop problem-solving skills and learn to think outside the box, handle pressure and be team players from very early — traits that will serve them and ultimately our country well into the future”.

She commend the Department of Mathematics at The UWI for their vision and commitment to tackling the problem from its roots.

This year, the Junior Olympiad, which commenced in November 2022, saw 2,300 students from 111 primary and prep schools entering the qualifying round. After two rounds, 700 students from 88 schools progressed to the finals.

The Senior Olympiad saw close to 500 students from 30 high schools entering the qualifying round, of which 80 advanced to the final.

The winners of both Olympiads will be announced in May.

Professor Michael Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, commended the Department of Mathematics for its leadership with respect to mathematics education in Jamaica and hailed New Fortress for buying into the vision of STEM as an enabler of societal development, as exemplified by the partnership.

Meanwhile, Dr Ponakala said, “It was encouraging to see the commitment and excitement on the faces of the students as they turned out for each round.”

She thanked New Fortress Energy Foundation for continuing to invest in the programme, even during the challenging period of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Ponakala also thanked Dr Samuel McDaniel, olympiad academic coordinator, and the other members of the committee “for their invaluable contribution and commitment to this competition”.