OPTOELECTRONICS: a branch of electrical engineering that deals with electronic devices that emit, regulate, transmit, and sense light


OPTICS: the branch of physics that deals with light and vision


OPTICAL INFORMATION PROCESSING: the process of gathering, retrieving, storing, and searching of data using the science of optics

Cardinal Warde (Date of Birth: 14th July 1945)

Caribbean Icons in STI Vol 1

Professor Cardinal Warde is a world expert on optical information processing. He holds twelve patents and lectures at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

One of his inventions is a pair of tiny display eyeglasses developed with Dr. Ali Ersen. It allows users to read manuals hands-free. The device can be useful to mechanics, paramedics and also surgeons during operations. Video games and 3-D virtual reality are among other possible uses.

Born on July 14th 1945, Warde grew up in Barbados near the beach where he fished and played cricket. He attended St. Christopher’s Boys School until age 10 then moved on to the Foundation School. From age 16, he attended Harrison’s College pursuing mathematics, chemistry and physics. He excelled academically and represented his school in track and field events.

At a young age, he took apart items to see how they worked. After the launch of the first space satellite, he and two friends decided to construct a rocket. They researched materials and fuel chemicals needed to build the rocket while transforming his father’s workshop into a science laboratory. They launched the rocket at the beach with a mouse on board but the rocket made it only 3 metres off the ground! Not discouraged, they continued experimenting in the lab.

Warde obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics from Stevens Institute of Technology, USA (1969) and played on its soccer team. He attained both master’s (1971) and doctoral degrees (1974) in physics at Yale University and joined the Faculty of MIT as Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering.

Presently, he is working on building computers with brain-like functions to make “judgment calls” like humans. He has collaborated with NASA to develop optical imaging devices for the US government. For his outstanding work in science and technology, the Barbados Government awarded him the Companion of Honour in 2003 and the US Black Chamber of Commerce named him Innovator of the Year, 2001.

Professor Warde is an advisor to the Ministry of Education in Barbados- a service he performs at no cost. In the US and Barbados, he encourages students to pursue careers in science and technology. He advises youngsters to build a strong base in mathematics and communication skills for a career in the sciences.

To kids he says:”Put a great effort at all levels of your studies and don’t be afraid of mathematics- it is not as mysterious as it seems.”