ATHGO Global Innovation Forum: Day 1

I am participating in the ATHGO Global Innovation forum, hosted at the World Bank in DC from August 13-15. This short series is an account of what occurred; of reflections, and takeaways.

I arrived into DC this morning with less than 2 hours of sleep under my belt, having left for Toronto Pearson Airport at 3:20 AM and – through an inexorable tendency to underestimate packing time – turned in seemingly mere minutes before. I suppose a first reflection would be our amazing ability to adequately function on minute resources.

(Side note: one convenience present in Washington soon to come to Toronto is light rail interfacing the airport with the entire Metro system, releasing one from ever having to acquire the services of a taxi to travel to Pearson).

Walking through the more peripheral streets of Washington, en route to our venue from the nearest Metro station, one can’t help but notice an incredible assortment of world-recognized organizations. I would walk by the International Monetary Fund and marvel simply that I was nonchalantly striding by a group key to 20th century stability we so extensively discussed in History 12.

The World Bank was a bit of a pandora at first: what was it exactly? I reconstructed a fuzzy image from History class – was it a UN aid group? A political manipulation tool borne out of the cold war? A US agency? Eventual inquiry led my current understanding: it is a bank funded by the financially capable nations of the world, whose purpose is to lend money  – for the purposes of development  – to economically emerging nations in the interests of international stability (My, my – back to Keynes again). Yes, it was used as a Cold War political tool, and apparently had a dubious ethical track record at some point.

I soon learned one rarely enters a building in Washington without undergoing the common airport ritual of depleting pockets and person of all electric and metallic objects and submitting them to an XRAY machine;  yourself to a metal detector, and the World Bank went the extra mile to issue barcoded photo identification.

Inside, the complex was a for all purposes a habitat missing only sleeping quarters – it was a small city, with a vast, open indoor atrium and a formidable suite of cafés, restaurants, and a cafeteria. The restaurants were closed for the summer, though the ‘cafeteria’ more than made up for any perceived loss when it became apparent there were no less than 15 different genres of food portals, from, of course, all over the world. My notion of what a Cafeteria could be was certainly extended.

After checking in at the Preston Auditorium, I arrived in time for the 2:00 afternoon panel. Being somewhat of a last minute applicant, flight availability required that I miss the morning introduction and group discussion. After selecting a seat near what I suspected to be floor mounted power receptacles, an Australian student directly to my left greeted me and brought me up to cruising speed on the morning’s overview. The forum was constructed around three pillars, based on the research of Dr. Armed Orujyan, Athgo’s founder; Innovation, Network, and Resource. These pillars would play an important role throughout, as various concepts were explored in this context.

The first panel assembled, consisting of Mr. John White (CEERT), Mr. Paul Manson (Sea Breeze Power), and Mr. Jonathan Blitz (Utility Scale Solar) and moderated by Mr. Jeff Werner (Daimier) – they were to discuss solutions to problems in renewable energy.

Paul Manson and his wind power generation company happen to be based out of BC, with several installations on northern Vancouver Island and the central interior. They’ve installed BC’s first HVDC transmission line – connecting Vancouver Island with Washington State, opening up the Global Innovation Forum Day 1green energy to the US market. As of last month, the northern Vancouver Island farm is generating 98 MW of energy. He made some comments on entrepreneurship, considering perseverance to be the most important attribute of an entrepreneur and an incredible team the most important asset.

At the conclusion of the panel, approximately half an hour was slotted for informal discussion with additional presenters. I stood with the group surrounding Mr. Evan Bailyn of Good Media Co, who spoke extensively on organic search engine optimization and social media marketing strategies. Evan has created and sold several companies built from his ability to rise in search rankings, and recently wrote a book,  Outsmarting Google, that I plan to read if I ever get through my current book-backlog.

Five O’Clock marked the beginning of our first development session, where I met with our assigned team members to begin brainstorming ideas for the project we were to present in 48 hours time. We identify an area where there seems to be potential (designing for kids to encourage positive eco-behaviour, solving a specific problem, and making it fun), and with the framework in place proceed to the busses at six o’clock that will shuttle us to the finnish embassy for the evening’s reception.

The embassy was not an incredibly new building, yet was LEED Gold certified. A metal exoskeleton separated by 3 feet from the structure itself composing of interwoven vines shielded the building from direct sunlight, and automatic systems controlled window shades to optimize HVAC. Of course, the typical security ritual is performed flawlessly as all hundred-plus of us march through screening. We are greeted with booklets of information on Finland gracing a table, and I take one.  My Australian friend pointed out that the opening paragraph contained an explicit reference to Knowledge Integration being of vital importance to Finland’s current and future green economy – this being the first time I’ve heard the specific term be referenced outside the context of the KI program at UW, I rounded up another copy to bring back to CKI for posterity. The reception offered the opportunity to talk at length with Paul Manson, where we exchanged stories and he explained more of Sea Breeze’s operations.

In a day of such pace – in a day where effort is required simply to keep abreast of the the current happenings (certainly not aided by a lack of sleep) – it can be difficult or near impossible to maintain a reflective perspective; to consider the implications of the past while processing the moment.

It would seem there are two subtle purposes underpinning such events as Athgo’s Global Innovation Forum: primarily, it’s to allow us the opportunity to develop a net-benefit peer and mentor network. Like Shad (though to a decidedly lesser extent, three days versus a month), the forum brings together students of similar passions and exposes them to each other. Second, it allows us to exercise the brainstorming-to-product process, refining and improving with each iteration.

Update: Open Letter to the President’s Office

Several months ago I published “An Open Letter to the President’s Office” in response to a request for students to participate in the Student Engagement Survey. The survey request was sent at a time when I noticed a considerable amount of conversations related to improving how we learn occurring around me, and  the issue being one I am intensely interested in, I couldn’t bear the idea of these conversations ending in the hypothetical.

In a spur of naïve passion, I wrote to the president’s office offering to share some suggestions on how to improve learning – borne of these conversations – with President Hamdullahpur. This morning that conversation happened, with Sean Van Koughnett (Director of the Student Success Office), Bud Walker (Associate Provost, Student) and Feridun Hamdullahpur – the goal of the discussion was to cross-pollinate the ideas of students to improve learning with UW leadership’s vision and vice versa. I would argue the most important part of any conversation is listening, and this post aims to be a fruit of that endeavor – outlining commentary on the discussion’s themes: improving how we learn innovation, improving how we learn from each other, and improving how we learn from professors.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

It seemed appropriate to stage the most intriguing questions that beset the students conversations to this group, and so the format generally followed a pattern of asking a question, everyone adding supporting content and their opinions, comparing with student consensus points, and finally segueing to an ‘actionable suggestion’ from student conversations. Like you might imagine, the ‘actionable suggestions’ are as they sound: a fairly concrete opinion on how to solve the problem brought to light in each discussion question, posed as one possible solution. In reality, frameworks for conversations are a last resort and rarely used. A healthy conversation will be very agile, with different people’s opinions bringing the current topic far from anything that could be planned, so please forgive the absence of commentary within some topics.

(Improving how we learn innovation) We talk a lot about the need for innovation in the workplace – its importance in transitioning Canada to a knowledge-based economy, in keeping Canada globally competitive – but specifically, what does innovative behavior look like?

The discussion begins with an illustration of the University’s founding ethos with respect to innovation. When the University was founded in 1957, it’s innovative genesis was in the unique opportunity it afforded motivated and intelligent individuals who could not necessarily otherwise afford to study at university without the Co-op program. The founding students were those intrinsically motivated to progress towards a better life, and possessed a certain motivation to make such happen. It reminds me of Keynes’s animal spirits.

The anecdote leads naturally into the role of motivation within learning, and strategies for teaching underlying behavior requisite to innovation. We mark the role of professors in this process, and discuss UW’s requirement of hiring professors who excel at both research and teaching. Dr. Hamdullahpur outlines a vision for exceptional researchers using classroom time for scenario based learning, inspiring students by linking what’s being taught to specific examples of application. MIT is brought up as an example of a university where ten years ago, the focus was extremely biased towards research. MIT and many other American universities today recognize the importance of placing equal priority on teaching and research, as does UW.

It’s an incredible direction. A direction that will admittedly take time – but the excitement in the room was tangible, and the vision contagious.

(Improving how we learn from professors) How do we kindle a motivation to teach within professors primarily concerned with research? Or a desire to improve within professors who have no reason to attempt to?

UW has some great researchers, and it’s hardly a secret that some professors much prefer their research to teaching. UW has a well regarded Centre for Teaching Excellence with many resources available to help professors become more comfortable and interactive with their classes, though as previous conversations with some of my professors indicated, the Centre tends to be of most value to those who are already good communicators wishing to improve. The real issue is one level deeper – it’s the motivation to improve – and how can we kindle motivation?

The actionable suggestion for this question was to to create a system of peer-mentorship for professors,  such that professors are cross-exposed to other styles of communicating and engaging with a class.

The system for student evaluations of courses and their professors is explained and ideas are brought up for where it could go in the future. Mr. Walker explores differences between teaching and learning, and comments how professors not comfortable in a “50-1″ learning environment may be exceptional one-to-one. This leads into a discussion on integrating research into undergraduate education, bringing the “learning is experience” mantra of Co-op full circle into the formal learning experience.

This is an exciting possibility for the future of UW: tightly integrating experiential learning into all facets of education. Once again the room was charged, and a twinkle adorned an eye or two.

How can we motivate students to take charge of their own learning and create an environment where there are opportunities to take risks and learn leadership?

I tend to far underestimate timelines when planning content for discussions or presentations, and on suspicion I verbally noted I wanted to be When you teach you learnmindful of everyone’s time, as I was not sure how much had passed. We had indeed fared well beyond the 1/2 hr tentatively booked, and it is only a testament to the politeness of the group that no one had mentioned it.

There seemed to be an interest in this topic, however, and we agreed to take a couple minutes to wrap up with discussing the actionable suggestion of creating a formal system of peer-learning, where students would teach each other. Such a system would not only partially meet the challenge of the first question mentioned (on developing skills requisite to innovation, such as risk-management and the ability to think across silos) but encourage leadership and develop communication skills. In order to teach something well, you have to understand it at a deeper level than pure memorization. To this end, peer-teaching encourages mastery of material as opposed to regurgitation.

It is a subtle area of passion for me, and I was surprised to hear Mr. Van Koughnett talk of the concept being within the realizable vision of Office of Student Success, and how UW’s living / learning communities are a step towards such a direction. Dr. Hamdullahpur followed with a story of such practices being employed in a trial at his previous institution, where the class rose by seventeen percent.

Within a supported context that ensures students experience success in teaching others, there is significant potential for students to develop confidence in themselves and their abilities. I believe there is compelling reason t0 correlate confidence in one’s abilities with the ability to further one’s abilities.

“When you teach, you learn” – Helen Suzman

The conversation left me excited for UW’s future –  I have substantial confidence in the the administration to execute a vision to bring the university to an experiential, research intensive, student focused learning environment of tomorrow.

 

Project 2047: The Social Experiment

The following is an account of events that actually took place. In the words of Charlie Wilson, “These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world…” (well, they changed our highschool).

New technology is often by nature disruptive; I’ve always found it fascinating to observe budding disruptions and consider their possible long-term implications. I would also contest that revolution is most often borne of frustration, as the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt Lybia, Syria (and, well, the rest of history…) indicate.

So my good friend Fraser Parlane and I were treading on fertile ground in our Grade 12 year when the student WiFi was being repeatedly switched off as the content filtering system was continually  breached. Even on the best of days though, internet staples such as youtube, gmail, and Google image search were outright blocked. Considering the UN’s recent resolution (PDF) that internet access is a fundamental human right, these restrictions were bemoaned by many – especially those who used these services for school purposes.

Roughly a year earlier, Rogers had enabled internet tethering on the iPhone – a feature I often employed to ensure I always had uninterrupted and unimpeded access to the internet. I could keep the iPhone in my pocket, entirely out of sight and within school regulations, and activate Bluetooth tethering from my computer. Being quite passionate about mobile wireless broadband – attending the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association) conference and trade show several times in Las Vegas, the future of the industry was often at the forefront of my thoughts. We are speeding towards an era where all electronic devices will have an internet connection of some form or another, and certainly towards an era where mobile devices such as cellphones, laptops and tablets will be internet enabled anywhere. What then, will schools do to filter content when every laptop in the classroom has its own independent internet connection?

There are only a few options should schools continue to desire to gate-keep the internet. The most imminent solution would likely be to ban personal laptops in the classroom as schools currently ban cellphones. This would hardly be moving education towards the electronics-based future we all know awaits it, and the only option for moving forward in this case would have the school provide every student with a laptop or tablet as a replacement. Giving students laptops has been met with mixed results – with some districts finding success while others see students using their laptops as toboggans – even without considering the extreme cost.

Because mobile broadband operates over frequencies licensed to telecommunications companies by the federal government, under the oversight of Industry Canada, mobile broadband cannot simply be blocked. To do so would be a federal offense, as these frequencies are also responsible for access to essential services such as 911. The only partial solution would be to design buildings to impede certain frequencies – much like a Faraday cage – which is also prohibitively expensive and unlikely.

While at the time every mobile device certainly did not have a mobile broadband connection, most if not all had WiFi. My iPhone happened to have a six gigabyte data plan, courtesy of a Rogers panic attack when over 60,000 people signed the ‘ruinediphone.com’ petition back when the iPhone was originally introduced in Canada. Fraser happened to have a locker he never used and an old spare laptop. I had a few spare Meraki gateways lying around from projects I had done through Wioka. Add a power inverter and a car battery, and ‘project 2047′ was live (2047 was the number of the locker our station was housed).

The exact configuration had the iPhone USB tethered to the laptop, which was connected to the Meraki access point through a Cat5 crossover cable. The USB Ethernet emulator interface from the iPhone was simply bridged with laptop’s standard Ethernet port. The iPhone assigned the laptop an IP address from Rogers, and the laptop assigned an IP address to the Meraki access point, which was configured to act as a ‘captive portal’, explaining the purpose of the network and requesting users to accept a terms of service before gaining access. It was beautiful – we even had an old cheap webcam monitoring the LED voltage readout on the power inverter, uploading stills every 30 seconds or so to an external site through FTP to ensure we would never drain the battery.

The battery would last about a week on a single charge, though unfortunately once the power inverter detected the battery was at 11 volts it would emit a shrieking alarm (presumably to ensure you’re always able to start your vehicle). This caused a precarious situation right before lunch one day, when I checked the voltage readout from the webcam feed in the library. I don’t remember what the charge was that morning, but I do remember expecting to be in the clear for at least another few days – not so, according to the image that was greeting me with a stomach-churning 10.9 V. That could only mean the alarm was sounding right now. Sure enough, just as I entered the upstairs hallway that contained the locker project 1147 was housed, a unmistakeable alternating warble could be plainly heard. Unfortunately, a few seconds later the lunch bell rang and students spilled out of the classroom en masse.

Of course, the first thing students do at lunch is head to their lockers to deposit their books and retrieve their lunch. An elaborate scheme ensued that saw Fraser and myself  frantically trying to open the locker to rip off the power inverter’s leads attached to the car battery, blocked by a few others  ‘in-the-know’ surrounding the locker. A shrieking alarm tends to become louder when the locker that contains it is opened, and this was no exception. Despite our efforts several people gained a glimpse at project 2047 that lunch – though it was the custodian who observed Fraser and I removing the battery for recharging after school that day who ultimately spelled the project’s demise.

Removing the battery for recharging was quite a process (one I liked to imagine was not unlike changing fuel rods on a nuclear reactor). Like most car batteries, it contained a significant amount of lead. Lead, for the uninitiated, is quite heavy. Project 2047 was on the second floor – and this this thing was not going to fit in a backpack. The solution we settled on was to use a suitcase to transport the dead battery in and out of the school to an awaiting vehicle. We would as inconspicuously as possible use the suitcase to block as much of the locker as possible, remove the battery from the locker and proceed to make our getaway. It was during this short process that our school’s new custodian made his way down the hallway, his eyes pausing curiously on this locker full of wires and antennas. Without saying a word he continued on his way.

Should he have been at KCS for a while, he probably would have thought nothing of the strange sight. Fraser and I could often be seen at the school at all times of day and night, often busy with potentially much more dangerous projects and activities (that usually involved scaffolding and ladders). He was new, though, and probably felt compelled let administration know of this odd situation.

Our vice principal the next day casually asked Fraser if he had a car battery in his locker, to which, of course, Fraser replied that he had. I understand a slight pause emerged – the obvious question of ‘why’ hanging in the air – before our VP commented that it could be a potential fire hazard.

And so ended The Social Experiment. What surprised us most was that people were actually using it, and that the Meraki’s 200 mW radio was strong enough to cover the entire west wing of the school – despite being fully enclosed in a metal locker.

We apologize to our locker-neighbors for any fear of microwave-radiation contaminated lunches, though we have it on high authority that death or illness is unlikely. We apologize to KCS for disrupting the paradigm of internet filtering – we certainly understand the potential for abuse and the danger of inappropriate content. You were just using technology not up to the task of filtering modern internet services. For the record, we channeled all traffic through Open DNS’ free service – with content filter settings set appropriately.

I am happy to comment that KCS has now partially implemented Open DNS on its network.

On Innovation and Horizontal Knowledge

The events I describe in this post comprise one chapter in a series of events which I would describe as formative experiences. Occurring over the past year, these milestones have collectively set me on the path I currently travel.

It’s fall 2010. I’m a brand new student at the University of Waterloo, staring wide-eyed at a hall full of kiosks, noise, and demonstrations. It was clubs day – the two days of each term where the student clubs on campus all clamor for new recruits. It reminded me of a conference, or mini trade-show. When reading the small posters plastered around campus informing everyone of the upcoming showcase, it never quite occurred to me that there would be hundreds of student clubs – covering quite practically everything. To someone with diverse interests, it was a ‘kid and candy store’ moment.

After signing away my email address at seemingly every other booth (essentially agreeing to spam-for-life), I happened upon a table that was a little bit different from the others. It was backdropped by a large pull-up banner instead of folded cardboard -  the kind you see in actual tradeshows – that read ‘IMPACT’ in large white letters set against an orange and yellow texture. Eric Ho would go on to explain exactly what Impact was: a national organization dedicated to student entrepreneurship. To someone raised with the silent expectation to ‘invent’ things – a phenomenon in retrospect that could be considered a self-fulfilling prophesy – the mere existence of such an organization was elating. That Impact was holding an expo the following weekend was even better.

The format was conference-typical; keynotes, workshops, sponsor showcases, and a twitter wall. The people that filled in this framework were all but typical. I first met Albert Lai behind his Kontagent booth at Impact Expo (after asking if he was a Co-op student with Kontagent). It was also the first time I chatted with Kunal Gupta after his workshop on Polar Mobile about inflo. I would later learn he was a Shad Valley alum, and was Impact’s founder and Chair. Larry Smith gave the closing keynote; several months later I would sit in his macroeconomics class, and we would discuss strategy and market research during office hours.

 

But it was Evan Koslow’s opening keynote that would keep me awake at night. The man owns a company you’ve never heard of and never will – unless it’s too late and they’ve already taken over your market. They have expertise in almost everything. from power plants in Bangladesh to chemical processing and encryption algorithms. Koslow holds 50 patents and has 70 pending. Their headquarters is  housed in an entirely unassuming building in an industrial zone of Waterloo. Their website has lots of pictures of smiling people that will fundamentally tell you nothing of what they do – it’s the perfect stealth operation.

Koslow essentially described an established concept for a fuzzy philosophy on education I had long held. For the first time I had a label – a term – for a set of loosely coupled ideas and theories on education, innovation, and learning I had half-wittedly developed over the course of my high-school career. My conundrum is best surmised with a graph:

Right / Left brain bellcurve distribution

That is, as we travel to either extreme of stereotypical ‘left’ or ‘right’ brained activities, my interest generally dwindles as time spent exclusively on those activities increases. I become most passionate (take the y axis to be ‘excitement’, if you will) with activities that require employing thought processes typical to both seemingly polar mindsets, and what I busied myself with during high school reflected this.

By definition this goes against the grain of specialization. In balancing down the middle, I was refuting the general post-secondary ethos of ‘you shall become an expert in building bridges’ or ‘you shall become an expert in creative writing’. Granted, I surely understand that near every profession requires the capacity to be creative and logical at some level, though the focus is almost always slanted to one or the other.

Koslow spoke to this effect, insisting that the structure of higher education was entirely unconducive to serial innovation. He described higher education as a hole you start digging with your undergraduate degree, and continue to dig deeper with your masters – digging deeper still with your PhD – until finally, one day (if you’re exceptionally good), you dig the hole a little deeper than anyone else and you’re the world’s foremost expert in something. Something very small. This is all fine, it is the process by which much of knowledge we consider now consider ‘boilerplate’ that contributed to our standard of living eventually came to be. However, it hardly allows one to think across boundaries and disciplines – which, when you think of, is somewhat fundamental to innovation.

I define innovation to be the creative correlation of previously unrelated ideas. In this case, it somewhat helps to have a lot of unrelated ideas to draw from.

Koslow went on to speak of Horizontal Knowledge – that instead of resolute knowledge of one hole, a framework knowledge of a thousand holes is better suited to spontaneous innovation and the era we live in. In the not too distant past, should one not be able to recall offhand critical information specific to one’s field, he or she might spend a week in the library hunting down the required piece of missing information. Efficiency dictated memorization king. Today, with quality information (such as scientific journals and references) is instantly available and searchable, we are far better suited to concentrate on the supporting framework and infrastructure of understanding and intuition than mere information.

In the context of Entrepreneurship, horizontal knowledge is especially important. Due to the multifaceted and ambiguous nature of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs need to be well versed and capable – at the very lest competent – in a wide and varying set of often hard to define skills and abilities.

I now had an established concept under which to gather my thoughts on education and learning. My theories was in some way validated – I had a basis to build from.

For three continuous hours after his keynote ended, a fluctuating group of about 20 people continued to talk with Evan as he touched on his adventures in bringing down billion dollar companies, in contracting himself to companies to ‘innovate on the spot’ and – what intrigued me most – in developing a system of extremely efficient learning with a college friend.

There is more to come. Far more to come.

 

An Open Letter to the the President’s Office

A letter composed to the office of the President of the University of Waterloo, urging  discussion on methods of innovating teaching and learning itself.

I’m contacting you on behalf of a group of students who have begun a conversation – begun to think and brainstorm – on how the University of Waterloo could improve and innovate the learning process itself, sparked by President Hamdullahpur’s request for students to write the National Survey of Student Engagement.

This conversation I’ve observed occurs all the time. Students often sit together for lunch, after or in between class, and think of strategies that could help us master material. There is often a surprising consensus. I drop into these conversations whenever I hear them, and now offer to do the one thing that seems not to have occurred to anyone else: respectfully and cooperatively include the President of the University. The one individual, who perhaps more than anyone else would not only be interested in the subject, but have the desire and ability to effect positive change.

We do not claim to be experts – to know the latest in pedagogy research – but we do offer an opportunity to see inside the minds of your students, information which could perhaps be used in conjunction with experts’ theories when making decisions to push the University to the forefront of innovation.

We are passionate about innovation – we identify with the University of Waterloo; many of us chose this institution “in the spirit of Why Not”? We’ve surmised many of the common, recurring themes and write today to request an opportunity to discuss these with President Hamdullahpur. Please allow us to help you in your quest to innovate learning itself.

 

Impact Entrepreneurship: National Conference

I recently attended Impact Entrepreneurship’s National Conference in Toronto, which upon reflection I can confidently say has been a formative experience for me. The conference is a forum for 300 selected delegates from High Schools and Universities across Canada to gather for two days of esteemed keynotes, interesting workshops and valuable networking. I met Cameron Herold (Co-Founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK),  Anthony Lacavera (CEO of WIND Mobile),  Mark Rudock (most recently of Viigo), Razor Suleman (of I Love Rewards) and Albert Lai (of Kontagent) among countless others.

I also had the privilege of eating dinner at the Saturday evening gala with the founder of ShapeCollage, Vincent Chung. Vincent has created one of those products which solves a simple problem, and solves it really well. His company’s software creates professional-quality photo collages (like the name suggests) in forms of various shapes which have been used worldwide in everything from published books to (much to my surprise) KCS’s missions page.

Jonathan Kay, as the “Ambassador of Buzz” at Grashopper Group held a particularly interesting workshop on ‘New Marketing,’ leveraging the virility of the Internet and focusing on creating relationships with customers and would-be customers through modern communications tools.

An interesting side note is that this man was chiefly responsible for the wild popularity of a video on entrepreneurship that Grashopper created which hit the Internet in early 2009 – a video I watched probably due to his efforts in employing the new ideas, concepts and techniques he discussed in that workshop. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s below:

Grasshopper also recently launched a successful petition to Barak Obama to name November 19 (the last day of Global Entrepreneurship Week) as National Entrepreneurs’ Day in the US.

The importance of networking and creating a passionate, motivated team with good culture stand as themes which rang throughout Impact National Conference. I believe every keynote speaker touched on at least one aspect of these themes, some developing extensively their respective importance.

A few highlights from the Keynotes (click on the images for full articles):

Cameron Herod’s “Emotional Rollercoaster of Startups”

Mark Ruddock’s “What VCs Want”

Impact was founded by Kunal Gupta, a Shad Valley alumni and Waterloo Software Engineering graduate and founder of Polar Mobile. If you’ve used the TIME, Macleans, NBC, CBS, and a host of other Apps on your mobile device, you’ve used Polar’s platform.

The conference reminded me of a somewhat suppressed passion I have in entrepreneurship; in it’s true form. Perhaps unwittingly, it has always been my goal. Impact has brought that goal into sharper focus; it is this which I refer to as a formative experience. The ramifications will be lifelong.

Chance favours the connected mind. – Steven Johnson, TED

Ken Robinson on Education: Visually

I wish I could take every educator and politician in the country, stick them in a room (lock the doors, of course), and make them watch this. Half of them won’t agree and never will agree, but it would be a start…

Check out ted.com and search for Ken Robinson if you’re interested in more of what he has to say. I’m fairly certain he wrote a book as well.

The Story of 50 Sheets of Paper

The following is an instruction given by a teacher to a class working on a project in a school Library:

“OK grade nines – listen carefully. There’s about five minutes to the bell, and you’re not going to have enough time to finish. We’ll work on it again on Monday – save you’re work to a USB key or save it to My Documents if you don’t have one. Make sure you print off a copy as there’s no guarantee it will be here on Monday. Are you listening? Make sure…”

The end result was at lease 50 sheets of paper (not to mention ink) consumed as each Grade 9 student printed off their multi-page-in-progress essays. The problem here lies not in the teacher’s actions. The teacher is responding to a set of circumstances which have forced her to recommend printing hard copies of work – namely, the lack of a secure place provided for each student to store work. Students cannot be expected to remember to bring USB memory drives to class each day.

If we hope to one day reduce our reliance on physical copies of digital documents, I would argue a school is the first place to start entrenching these values.

Work Experience: Week 7

Last week at REDACTED I continued learning the Solidworks Engineering modelling program while I waited for REDACTED and theREDACTED to create the REDACTED I designed.Learning Is Experience

This week I began creating the documentation for the project. This REDACTED‘ will touch on everything from a high-level project description to REDACTED. I anticipate this will take me several days to complete and will consume the majority of my time until REDACTED arrive.