I didn't really know what I was getting myself into when I applied to SHAD. I heard that it was an enrichment program for high school students interested in STEM and the arts. I heard that SHAD allowed you to live and work with some of the nicest and smartest people in the country. I heard that it was the best summer you would ever have. All of these were possibilities that many programs around the world promised. But in SHAD’s case, it actually delivered.
Growing up, I was extremely interested in technology. My main passion was working on science fairs in fields that weren't even taught at my school. In Grade 6, for example, I examined how video games are made, even building one of my own using a programming language called Scratch Live. In Grade 7, I examined how iPhone apps are made, and again made a basic app and ran it on a live iPhone. I went on to continue making iOS Apps with official tools like Xcode and Objective-C and published them on the App Store. I was even interviewed on CTV a few years ago about these apps. Shortly after, I started my own business, Design Castle. One thing that was absent, though, was experience working with a team to really push my limits.
That’s where SHAD came in. This summer, I learned how to work as part of a team and saw the benefits of doing that. At SHAD, we were forced to work as a team attending lectures, workshops and field trips together as one. Then we were given the design engineering challenge to work in our small groups to devise an original product or service as a solution to the 2016 theme of how to improve food security for Canadians. Each of us
Hear Nafeh talk about what
the 30 days at SHAD meant for him:
brought our unique skills while also learning from others. At school, group projects are a pain to work on; most times there is one person doing most of the work. My team for the design-entrepreneurship project consisted of some of the finest people I have ever known. We even ended up winning the SHAD Innovation Award for Best Website for our mobile and web app, FoodSpan, that functions as a tracking system to reduce food waste. The app records how long foods have been in your refrigerator.
Another aspect that was absent from my life before SHAD was the experience of nature and the outdoors. I have what’s known as brittle bone disease and rely on a wheelchair for mobility. Because of that condition, I rarely went outside before SHAD. At SHAD, I was essentially forced to adventure out of my comfort zone and got to experience things I only imagined in the past. Naturally, I was extremely terrified of doing anything that was even remotely risky. By the end though, I felt much more comfortable in seemingly dangerous situations and I learned to trust people. I went on hikes. I went camping for the first time and remembered all the cartoons and TV shows I watched as a kid but never got to experience. The staff at my SHAD campus even made it possible for me to climb the McMaster Altitude Tower, something that I never imagined myself doing. Thanks to SHAD, I find myself eager to experience more and to keep testing the limits of what I can actually do now physically as well as mentally. The weekend after SHAD, I went camping with my family to the 1000 islands near Kingston, something I was reluctant to do in the past.
I also completed a SHAD summer internship, where I worked with technology professionals, including software developers, and another SHAD Fellow to make a Mac App that helps coworkers discover and find each other in their large office spaces. Employees found it difficult to locate coworkers as the workplace was designed to allow anyone to pickup their laptop, plop it on any empty table, and make it their new workspace. The app, called mApps, was designed to allow workers to connect their work accounts and instantly update where they have moved to. We used apps like Xcode and Sketch, used in the industry today and this experience showed me I can fit right in, in the industry I have always dreamed of being part of down the road.
SHAD Fellow, 2016