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Simon Fraser University students win community engagement prize

Two Simon Fraser University students have scored high with their idea to develop an elite training program encouraging young innovators – from high school to grad school – to solve health technology challenges.

 Sujoy Ghosh Hajra and Careesa Liu pitched their Surrey Collaborative Outreach and Research Experience (SCORE) at the inaugural SFU Surrey-Central City Community Engagement competition – and received $5,000 from Central City’s property management company, Blackwood Partners, to help implement their idea.

 The competition will be held annually from 2014-2018 to encourage community/student engagement through innovation.

 “As we enjoy a close partnership with Simon Fraser University, we wanted to find a way to engage with their talented and knowledgeable students for the betterment of the community,” says Michelle Mackay, property manager for Blackwood Partners/Central City. “Collectively we came up with this unique opportunity that not only integrates student life into the community but also motivates and rewards our future leaders.”

 Adds Stephen Dooley, executive director of SFU’s Surrey campus: “It’s exciting to see the students’ enthusiasm and the high calibre of ideas that have come forward as a result of this competition. We thank Blackwood Partners for their generosity and foresight in encouraging students to take engagement to another level.”

The idea behind SCORE is to give young innovators opportunities for exposure to cutting edge, hands-on research experiences in medical technologies, scientific training, and mentorship from researchers, business leaders, and community thought-leaders.

 Through collaborative teamwork the students engage with such community partners as the City of Surrey and industry supporters like MISL and Health Tech Connex. A pilot program this past summer laid the groundwork for expanding the idea and received endorsement from the city and other potential collaborators.

 “The Central City neighbourhood is currently undergoing significant revitalization, led by Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard,” says Ghosh Hajra. “We hope to concurrently develop the future generation of highly qualified personnel to be leaders in these fields.”

 Runner up to SCORE is a program called Media Minds, created by Enactus SFU. The program complements traditional ESL-style programs, using videography as a tool to help immigrant youth creatively learn English.

 Other ideas shortlisted were Vivrancity, which aims to incorporate creativity into otherwise empty neighborhood spaces, and Transit Watch, targeting the creation of safer environments around transit areas.

 SFU was founded almost 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university – to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is a leader amongst Canada’s comprehensive research universities and is ranked one of the top universities in the world under 50 years of age. 

With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 30,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.

Posted: Dec 3, 2014

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