New programs, degrees, and institutes are enhancing Panama's human resource capacity across various fields.

Juan Planells Fernández

Rector, Universidad Católica Santa María la Antigua (USMA)

Since the foundation of USMA, law has been our primary focus because we want to facilitate society's fight against corruption. All the graduating lawyers at USMA have to sign an ethical agreement to commit themselves against corruption, which is one of the biggest issues in the world. In 2018, we are not only introducing new degrees but also technical degrees. This will offer the youth a possibility to acquire knowledge and abilities required to immediately set foot in the professional field. We took this step because of two reasons: to meet the increasing demands of the production sector and provide a higher number of technical employees to the private sector. The lack of technicians has forced professionals to take up technicians' jobs. I saw the problem first hand while I was the director of INADEH, which is the institution that prepares technicians for the public sector. However, due to the supply and demand gap, the private sector has been made to fill jobs in the public sector; USMA introduced technical degrees to solve that gap. We are trying to reach youngsters who need to work immediately to finance their education. Within the humanities department, we are offering general education electives, for example, a course on leadership or how to work in groups.


Dr. Mirna V. de Crespo

Rector, Universidad Latina

The university stands out in the area of health, especially in medicine. In the area of systems engineering, we are specialized in mechatronics and biomedicine. We are the only university that offers a degree in mechatronics; only Universidad Latina and another private university offer studies in biomedicine. The areas of business and logistics are strong here because of Panama's position at the global level. In 2018, we had the first graduation in master's in Educational Mathematics. We have also formed alliances with CrimsonLogic. For our students, this has been a great opportunity because they learn to create innovations that are related to the company. We also have a computer lab that allows students to apply a series of specialized computer programs and to work with a simulation of difficult cases in business. On top of this, we have the only Bloomberg laboratory at the university level as well as a courtroom; hence, students can see how a real-life trial is conducted. We have three master's degrees that are 100% online; however, Panamanians are not that used to working online. We are seeing the strongest demand for online courses from people who also work, and slowly online learning is taking hold in Panama.


K.S. Jagannatha Rao

Director, INDICASAT AIP

2017 was a new beginning for INDICASAT AIP; we started our first PhD program in English in 2011 and saw our first batch of eight students graduate in 2017. All eight of our PhD graduates from 2017 were from Panama. This has been one of our successful models for capacity building, not just in terms of students getting PhDs, but also building human resource capacity and research. From our graduate students, we have about 90 published papers, and we are also receiving international recognition. We have competent students with a capacity that matches any leading university in the world. Our second success story in 2017 was improving our infrastructure with a new building. This is the first international quality science and technology center in the country, and it allows scientists from Panama but who are working abroad to return to Panama and continue in their line of work. The center is called the Panamanian Research Institute for Science and Medicine (PRISM). The concept behind PRISM was to build up all of Panama's research competencies, including biology, medicine, and engineering in a campus similar to the US' National Institute of Health Campus model, which houses many institutes.


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