Meet Dr. Brian Copeland - Inventor of the G-Pan & PHI  - UpClose!

To Hell and Back the Tale of a Trinidad and Tobago National Hero

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“...Now this project was always bigger than pan. We viewed it as a pilot project for showing the nation how to innovate. We feel, that we have to be ready for when that oil money is done and the way to do it is to have a higher/stronger culture of innovation in our people...” Brian Copeland.
An exclusive When Steel Talks interview with Dr. Brian Copeland, the inventor of the G-pan. After a turbulent couple of years, here is his story in his own words
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Watch an exclusive interview with Brian Copeland -  inventor of the G-Pan

Global - Folks will always flock in droves to the front page for accusations and public hangings, but few are interested in the in-between page-retractions or private settlements. Such is the nature of man.

Meet Dr. Brian Copeland. His father is the well-known veteran mas band leader Mack Copeland. He is soft-spoken, humorous, cerebral, forward-thinking, thoughtful and extremely patriotic - maybe to a fault.  He is indeed a son of the soil who is always thinking of Trinidad and Tobago first. However, in the last couple of years Dr. Copeland has been on a journey that has taken him from revered, awarded national hero - to accusations of improprieties for the very inventions that he was awarded for.

Brian Copeland
Dr. Brian Copeland

Copeland exposes much of who he is. His respect for genius from anyone—regardless of background—is clear, when, in an off-camera moment, he speaks of instructing his colleagues to not look down on the outside team members who were contributing to the project, because, as he told them - they knew just as much as their “formally educated” peers but were simply calling it by a different name. This is further illustrated when he speaks of  the remarkable discoveries and inventions made by legendary iconic steelband musician and innovator Anthony “Tony” Williams.

Caught in a vicious web of political national partisan party politics, Copeland has suffered many indignities to his reputation, character and honor. The episode took a tremendous toll on his family - as they were among the causalities of this experience. Not to mention the loss of his mother in the process.

In this UpClose When Steel Talks exclusive interview, Dr. Copeland tells all - who, what, when and why. He shares his pains, visions and expectations for the future.

In addition, Copeland speaks on the CARIRI (Caribbean Industrial Research Institute) project of the mid-70s-early 80s, and the lost opportunity to take advantage of that initiative, and moreover harnessing the genius and technological brilliance of Anthony Williams and Bertie Marshall.

Copeland says two things really hurt him as a result of this incident: the loss of his mother, and the loss of the talents of ten very bright, devoted and nationalistic young people who were part of the development team.

Through it all Copeland is remarkably, not bitter, and remains in his own words “a forgiving kind of person.” To date Copeland has not received an apology - nor does he expect one will be forthcoming.

He chalks up the experience as “It’s us growing and building as a nation.” 

“There were ten young people on the project. Now this project was always bigger than pan. We viewed it as a pilot project for showing the nation how to innovate. We feel, that we have to be ready for when that oil money is done and the way to do it is to have a higher/stronger culture of innovation in our people. That makes you more able to survive when Mother Nature or man hits you a whammy. It’s a very important ability. You might not make a million dollars from it, but hey, you will know how to land on your feet. So we had ten young people with us going through this process - it’s the kind of thing, stuff you see happening up here (in the US) quite a lot. It was happening in Trinidad and Tobago - and they had to leave. I cried the day when that happened. I had to tell those guys “I can’t hold you anymore.”

“I was prepared to pay them with my own money for a couple of months, but that did not make sense. That, to me, was one of the lowest points of the project... To me that is a loss to the country. That was a serious loss to the country.”

Amidst the obvious pain and reflection, Copeland was proud to say that creator of the Indigisounds software DAC Acoustic Services’ David A. Chow was one of his graduates, one of his guys...

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