STEAM Horizon Awards: Catching up with Angéline Lafleur
The Ingenium-NSERC STEAM Horizon Award recognizes innovative Canadian youth who promote positive changes throughout their community using science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).
Every year, applicants are encouraged to approach their passion for technology and science from any angle, whether from an art and design perspective, research project, public outreach, or development of a new idea or product.
Through a series of short profiles, the Ingenium Channel is catching up with some of the 2020 winners. They shared what they’ve been up to since their big wins, in the hopes of inspiring a new set of remarkable Canadian soon-to-be graduates to apply. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Ingenium-NSERC STEAM Horizon Awards is January 15, 2021.
Ingenium Channel (IC): Give us an update! What have you been working on since you won? Any school or personal projects (or future projects) in the works?
Angéline Lafleur (AL): During the past few months, I had the opportunity to get involved in my community and work on new cool projects despite the pandemic. Following my interest in quantum computing, I participated virtually in the Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students from the Institute of Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. The lectures from world-class researchers contributed to my ongoing learning of all things quantum!
Angeline participated virtually in the Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students from the Institute of Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.
At the beginning of this school year, I reached out to a physics professor working with nanomaterials and joined her research group as an undergraduate member. So far, I created a visualization tool for Moiré (interference) patterns of multi-layer graphene (carbon-based 2D material) using Matlab. Also, I have passed the second CompTIA A+ exam making me a certified IT technician and I’m now pursuing the Matlab Associate certification.
In one of my engineering classes at uOttawa, I designed and built an automated planter that supports plant life independently using programming, electronics, and construction skills. Finally, I am working on STEAM outreach projects, such as producing educational programming content for school boards, doing workshops and presentations, and creating and funding my very own high school scholarship to be awarded to a girl in STEAM.
IC: Why did you decide to apply? What do you think set you apart in your application?
AL: After finding out about the STEAM Horizon Award, I was intrigued. I was aware of NSERC giving out scholarships for graduate students, but I had not heard about opportunities for undergrads. The other major partner in funding this scholarship, Ingenium had impacted my love for science and my desire to pursue STEAM fields as a child. My first experiences with science experiments were from workshops at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. Therefore, why wouldn’t I apply? I love to share my passion for STEAM, especially with young girls who are still underrepresented in many high-tech disciplines, and I thought that I could make that come through in my application. I think what stood out in my application were my two main goals: contributing to quantum computing research and closing the gender gap in STEAM. I demonstrated passion and initiative through my past projects as well as plans for the future. Lastly, a creative video didn’t hurt!
“I’m working on STEAM outreach projects, such as creating and funding my very own high school scholarship to be awarded to a girl in STEAM.”
IC: Any advice for those considering applying, but may be feeling a little intimidated by the process?
AL : When I was preparing my application, I looked at the site to see the achievements of previous years' winners and I felt very intimidated. This is probably the case for many other candidates, because we tend to underestimate ourselves. But we can't let this feeling make us miss out on a great opportunity to win a scholarship like the STEAM Horizon Award! My greatest advice to future candidates is not to underestimate your achievements and contributions to your community. You don't necessarily have to have won several competitions or started your own business to have a real impact on your community. So, if you love STEAM and make the world around you a better place, let it show in your application. Another concern would be the amount of effort required to prepare such an application. I won't lie, applying for scholarships is not an easy thing to do - you have to take the time to meet the expectations and add a touch of creativity. On the other hand, considering the prestige, opportunities and advantages of obtaining the STEAM Horizon scholarship, taking the time to submit your application is really worth it.
IC: As a past winner, would you consider yourself a STEAM ambassador? What makes someone a great STEAM leader?
AL : Even in high school, I considered myself to be an ambassador for STEAM, facilitating workshops, presentations and mentoring. After receiving the STEAM Horizon Award, I have even more motivation and am working to expand my impact in my community. I am directly involved in organizing the technology program at my former high school to encourage more girls to realize their potential in STEAM. Last month I gave an interactive presentation to students in my grade 11 physics class about a career in engineering. I organized workshops for computer science students at the school. I also created and funded my own scholarship for young high school graduates pursuing a field in STEAM, thanks to financial support like STEAM Horizon. As a STEAM ambassador, I am working on developing programming lessons for French school boards as part of the new elementary curriculum in Ontario. I was even able to take advantage of the NSERC Student Ambassador Scholarship to help me produce the tutorials.
In my opinion, a good STEAM leader is someone who is passionate and dedicated to their cause, someone who is able to identify problems in their community and take the initiative to solve them.
IC: What did you learn in the process of applying for the STEAM Horizon Awards?
AL: Applying for the STEAM Horizon Award was a great exercise in introspection, examining my goals and my progress. I found new ways and opportunities to make an impact in my community through the STEAM Horizon network. For example, I attended a workshop on SciComm in STEAM from a past winner, Ella Chan, from British Columbia. Meeting all these other young STEAM ambassadors inspires me to continue striving for equality in STEAM. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity, put yourself out there and apply!