The SHAD Network
This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The SHAD story begins with a unique and award-winning summer program and flourishes into a lasting network of change makers. First developed in 1980 at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora it is more important than ever given the skills youth need to excel in the modern economy. Hosted at 13 university campuses across the nation, SHAD produces leaders for Canada through a life-changing, pan-Canadian enrichment platform for high school students. Every year, SHAD helps 800 young Canadians tap into their full potential through an innovative month-long program. There, students apply STEAM (science-tech-engineering-arts-math) disciplines to real-life public policy and entrepreneurial challenges, forging insights and valuable relationships for life.
SHAD balances structured learning with unstructured exploration in a wide variety of fields including lectures, workshops and field trips. Students are mentored and taught by top university and community leaders in STEAM subject areas. Business, entrepreneurship and innovation are also key learnings. The students are challenged to think outside the box to find an original product or service as a solution to that year’s social theme or problem. They collaborate in small groups as they would in the real world using their different skills and expertise as part of SHAD’s entrepreneurship/innovation challenge. They are taught how to take risks and how to fail and get right back at it in a safe environment. They learn how to write a business plan, marketing plan and working prototype and awards are provided for the best at each host campus. Many SHAD Fellows call the experience transformational, working often for the first time alongside other like-minded, highly motivated youth from across the country.
The results have been extraordinary. There are now 15,500 SHAD Fellows and many are leaders in their fields. 32 SHADs have gone on to become Rhodes Scholars –almost one for every year SHAD has existed. 3 of the 26 members of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council are SHADs. And countless SHAD Fellows have become impressive innovators, including serial entrepreneur and Television personality Michele Romanow of CBC’s Dragons’ Den, who says she wouldn’t be the entrepreneur she is today without SHAD.
The SHAD entrepreneurship challenge itself has led to many innovations: one addressed Canada’s outsized environmental footprint with automated power consumption inhibiting devices and smart greenhouse shelving systems, another built jackets with LED turn signals to make cyclists safer. Another project inspired a SHAD to develop a pill vaccination, which has been awarded a patent in China.
The Rotman School of Management’s Creative Destruction Lab named SHAD the winner of its 2016 Labour Award, designed to recognize an individual or organization that has had a first-order impact on Canada’s competitiveness through the development and promotion of human capital in the areas of science, technology, and commerce.
SHAD Fellows say yes. Must-see video for potential SHAD students.