May 17, 2022

Canadian Innovation Week 2022 celebrates youth innovation

UCalgary is proud to support innovators of all ages
Canadian Innovation Week 2022
Canadian Innovation Week 2022 Rideau Hall Foundation

From May 16 to 20, UCalgary celebrates Canadian Innovation Week – an initiative of the Rideau Hall Foundation to recognize, support and share stories of inspiring innovators and innovations.

Each day of the week features a different theme: Today's (May 17) is #InnovateToInspire, showcasing exceptional young innovators who are changing the world with their knowledge, passion and creative thinking.

UCalgary is proud to share the stories of four young innovators who are tackling big questions with science and technology. Meet Rachel Simantov, Kanokwan Chainarongpinij, Maleeha Sarmad and Priyanka Malhotra.

Project tracking COVID-19 response wins Calgary Youth Science Fair

Rachel Simantov, a Grade 9 student attending the Calgary Jewish Academy, competed in the Calgary Youth Science Fair (CYSF) this year and won four awards, including the Schulich School of Engineering First Prize and the University of Calgary Chancellor’s Award for best overall project.

“You never think you’re going to win the lottery,” says Simantov, about winning the Chancellor’s Award. “You hear about people who do, but they don’t seem like real people, and you never expect to win it yourself, so I was really surprised.”

Since 1962, the CYSF has inspired and attracted youth to explore and pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields while competing for more than 100 awards. The CYSF, sponsored by UCalgary, is the largest of its kind in Canada and has been hosted at the Olympic Oval since 2012. 

Rachel Simantov

Rachel Simantov

Michael Simantov

Simantov's project, Framework for Optimal Pandemic Management, examined the response to COVID-19 in Canada. She developed a Python-coded framework to optimize the deployment of medical resources to combat pandemics while simulating a sustainable way to live with COVID. Simantov’s novel approach simplifies complex interactions and ripple effects in modelling pandemic response scenarios, so decisions on public health policies are made with clarity, transparency and objectivity.

Simantov encourages other youth to not be afraid of taking on challenges.

“Know that you may have an idea that’s really important and that can potentially save lives or have an impact on the world and so don’t be afraid to try and get it out there,” she says. “Find a mentor, ask for help and don’t be afraid to ask people questions because, especially when it comes to science, you cannot figure it out all by yourself.”

Simantov will be presenting her winning project at the Canada-Wide Science Fair this week.

UCalgary students Map the System

Kanokwan “Koko” Chainarongpinij; Maleeha Sarmad, BSc (Eng)’11, BEd’19; and Priyanka Malhotra are students in the inaugural cohort of the Cumming School of Medicine Precision Health Program and recently won UCalgary’s Map the System competition. The team went on to represent UCalgary in the semi-finals on May 11. The top four Canadian teams are moving forward to compete in the Global Final.  

Map the System is an international competition run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, that asks students to map a social or environmental challenge to better understand its context and complexities. Partner institutions each run their own competition.

Map the System 2022 UCalgary team

Map the System UCalgary team: Kanokwan “Koko” Chainarongpinij; Maleeha Sarmad, BSc (Eng)’11, BEd’19; and Priyanka Malhotra

“This program gives students access to experts in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship, and it is so valuable,” says Chainarongpinij. “We have fabulous mentors who have been successful in their own fields that have coached us, and the tools learned from this program can be applied, not only to our project, but to all aspects of life.”

The team’s project examined the use of artificial technology in precision health, specifically how data sets are collected to formulate algorithms and aid in the development of artificial intelligence. They found that research and innovations that come from it have been sex-biased, using mostly male experimental models, perpetuating the inequity in women’s health care and potentially costing women their lives.

Through Map the System, they were challenged to view change through a systems lens, learning that women process medication differently and about the importance of using accurate, sex-inclusive data collection when researching new medical innovations.

While the team is not moving on to finals, they are eager to continue learning about other social and environmental issues.  

“The program develops leaders of tomorrow,” says Chainarongpinij. “Knowledge is power, and the nationals is a great venue to hear the top teams, from different post-secondary institutions across Canada, bring forward systems thinking of today’s problems.”

Register now for UCalgary events taking place Tuesday, May 17

NFTs: The 21st-Century Gold Rush

Let’s talk about non-fungible tokens, the latest application of the blockchain to go mainstream. In this webinar, guests will explain what NFTs are, explore why they have taken off, the value they hold, and discuss potential policy and regulation that might be necessary to protect the intellectual property of creators. 

Ask Me Anything About Social Enterprise

Ask Me Anything About Social Enterprise is an interactive session whose sole purpose is to answer social entrepreneurship questions from the audience. To that end, we have assembled a team of experienced professionals who will be available to answer your questions (or help you find the resource you are looking for).

The University of Calgary is proud to partner with the Rideau Hall Foundation on Canadian Innovation Week, May 16 – 20, 2022.