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STEAM Engine Program Impact and Highlights | Annual Report 2023

April 15, 2024

We’re thrilled to present some highlights from the 2023 school year!

STEAM Engine is an in-class program where grades 5 to 8 students learn and apply concepts in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) to both enhance their digital technology skills and increase interest in STEM fields. In STEAM Engine, participants complete eight one-hour workshops during their core science or math class, facilitated by a representative role model/facilitator.

Last year, STEAM Engine reached 1,036 students from 14 schools. During the sessions, 17 STEM professionals from GM Canada opened up about their own educational and career journeys, offering priceless advice and shedding light on the paths to STEM careers.

What’s more, STEAM Engine is making strides in closing the gender gap in STEM. Nearly half of the participants are female or identify as gender non-conforming. We’re thrilled to play a part in this important shift within the world of STEM.

This year, we had many notable visitors to our program. Hamilton MPP Neil Lumsden visited the program to talk to students about their experiences. 17 classrooms were fortunate to receive a visit from employees from GM Canada, who spoke to students about their journey into the STEM fields, and more specifically into the automotive sector.

The STEAM Engine Program was generously supported by a host of public and private funders including: the Hamilton Community Foundation, NSERC PromoScience, Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, GM Canada, the City of Hamilton, and the R. R. McCann and Family Foundation.

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Mathstronauts Hosts 6th Annual STEM Hacks Competition, Empowering STEM Education Through Innovation

Oshawa, December 10, 2023

Highlights:

  • 135 Students from Durham District School Board showcase their Python coding and STEM skills and knowledge.
  • Students tackled an autonomous vehicle challenge using machine learning. 
  • Collaboration with McMaster Engineering EcoCAR team and Ontario Tech Engineering Outreach brings Mentors and Volunteers on board.
  • Distinguished Judges from GM Canada, Ontario Tech University, TELUS, NUIX, and more lend their expertise in machine learning.

Mathstronauts proudly hosted the 6th annual STEM Hacks competition at Ontario Tech University on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The event, a collaboration with key partners such as General Motors Canada, the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Team, the Ontario Tech Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Durham District School Board, marked a celebration of innovation, collaboration, and the skills and creativity of high school students in the Durham region.

Empowering Learning Experience

STEM Hacks is an annual event a yearly competition organized by Mathstronauts, where groups of 4 to 5 participants come together to tackle an exciting hands-on design and development challenge focused on STEM. This year, secondary school students from the Durham District School Board (DDSB) had a unique opportunity to excel in a hackathon-like environment. It served as a culmination of Mathstronauts’ OVIN-funded in-class programs, allowing students to apply Python programming knowledge and skills to real-world challenges.

The core focus of this year’s competition was an autonomous vehicle challenge. Students applied introductory machine learning principles using a pre-trained machine learning model to classify traffic signs. Their task included writing a control algorithm to navigate an autonomous vehicle based on the detected traffic sign(s).

But STEM Hacks is more than just a competition. Participants had the privilege of being mentored by post-secondary students and had their projects evaluated by a panel of judges comprising experts from both academic and industry backgrounds.

A total of 135 students, forming 27 distinct teams, competed with strong determination. The challenge brought together curious individuals who are eager to learn about autonomous vehicle technology and apply their coding knowledge to a software-related problem.

Three teams were awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners based on their projects. The winning teams demonstrated exceptional problem-solving skills, innovation, and teamwork.  

  • 1st Place: Asad Rizvi, Asghar Rizvi, Hassaan Naz, Syed Ahmad, Zayd Syed from Pickering High School
  • 2nd Place: Arham Wasti, Eric Rao, Krisha Kamal Pragash, Nathan Dardaine, and Sunni Xue from Anderson CVI high school
  • 3rd Place: Amna Zafar, Arni Chauhan, Izevbuwa Osa-Ogbeide, Kanisha Patel, and Nawal Ahmad from Pickering and Trafalgar Castle high schools.

A judge from GM Canada examining students’ project

Each team was guided by a mentor, who is also a post-secondary student in related fields.

Volunteers, Judges, and Industry Leaders Coming Together

 

STEM Hacks 2023 was made possible by the generous contribution of time and expertise from volunteers, judges, and industry leaders. The Ontario Tech students, and Mohawk College (Broadcast TV) students, and Mathstronauts staff volunteered their time, creating a safe and supportive environment for the participants.

14 Judges from GM Canada, TELUS, NUIX, and Ontario Tech University, including faculty and graduate students, brought a wealth of experience to the event. Their insights esure that the projects were not just innovative but also aligned with real-world expectations.



Fostering Collaboration and Mentorship

The collaboration with McMaster and Ontario Tech brought together a total of 23 mentors, with the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Team contributing 11 mentors, McMaster University providing 2, and the Ontario Tech University and Engineering Outreach teams contributing 10. This partnership reflects Mathstronauts’ dedication to creating a bridge between high school and post-secondary students, ensuring that participants not only receive guidance, but also have role models who inspire them to study about and pursue careers in the automotive industry.

An Inspiring Guest Speaker from GM Canada

Adding to the excitement, STEM Hacks 2023 featured a captivating talk by Philip Asante, Infrastructure and Platform Engineering Group Manager at General Motors Canada. He shared his own story of navigating high school and post-secondary to discover his passion in the engineering fields, and how via a combination of determination, curiosity and grit, he found his way into the automotive industry at General Motors Canada. Asante shared a message of hope and motivation for event participants to be proud of their accomplishments, dream big for their futures, and go into the direction of their academic and career endeavors with a sense of commitment and excitement.

Future Programs and Events

Parents and students interested in exploring future programs and engagements can find more information on Mathstronauts’ Program page. We are committed to develop and deliver fun and engaging project-based learning opportunities to empower youth in Canada to develop digital technology and STEM skills in.

To stay updated on upcoming programs and events, subscribe to our newsletter. You can expect to receive sporadic announcements, highlights, and exclusive content related to STEM education.

Quotes

I had dabbled in machine learning before, those with the different kind —like linear regression and stuff like that. But I think definitely going out, I did learn about a lot about pre-processing extraction and just like what you can really do with machine learning and the future possibilities of it.

– Sunni Xue, a member of the 2nd place-winning team at STEM Hacks 2023

I have some experience coding in Python, but not really with AI or machine learning models. Especially the learning part at the beginning, it struck a really good balance of teaching the main concepts while also applying it through actually coding it.

– Zayd Syed, a member of the 1st place-winning team at STEM Hacks 2023

I’ve done some coding in the past before, but I haven’t had a lot of practice recently. It just made me more confident again after doing coding for a long time. It was really fun. I think I actually learned something too.

-Kanisha Patel, a member of the 3rd place-winning team at STEM Hacks 2023

For more information and/or PR inquiries, please contact: Priska Handojo (p.handojo@mathstronauts.ca)

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Mathstronauts Receives Prestigious Grant from Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) to Drive Interests in Automotive Careers

Hamilton, September 5, 2023
by Priska Handojo, MDCC, Marketing and Communications Specialist at Mathstronauts

Mathstronauts is thrilled to announce that we have been selected by the Ontario Government through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) as a recipient of the Regional Future Workforce (RFW) Program to support the development of a highly skilled workforce in the automotive and mobility sector.

The RFW Program is allocating over $6 million to 14 projects carried out by Ontario non-profit organizations, post-secondary institutions, and school boards to deliver automotive and mobility-focused programs connecting students from kindergarten to post-secondary to the sector. 

The nearly $300,000 funding received by Mathstronauts underscores the significance of our mission to bridge the STEM educational gap and empower students in underserved communities. This award validates the relentless efforts of our team and charges our ability to extend the outreach of our programs.

“As we continue to grow Ontario’s auto supply chain, it’s important that we empower students and connect them with exciting opportunities in the sector,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “We’re attracting billions of dollars worth of investment from companies worldwide that will create thousands of new jobs.”

“We are honored to be selected as a recipient of this funding and excited to contribute to this important project,” said Sehrish Zehra, Executive Director at Mathstronauts. “At Mathstronauts we believe in providing educational programs driven by community needs, and our work here will help to pave the pathway for the technologically skilled workforce required in Ontario in the near future.”  

 

Fostering a Talent Pipeline

“Careers in Ontario’s auto sector offer life-changing opportunities, with good pay, pensions and benefits. Our government will continue to invest in innovative projects that help workers and jobseekers get the skills they need to land better jobs with bigger paychecks in the auto industry,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Through the RFW Program, Mathstronauts will create two school programs in collaboration with GM Canada, McMaster University, and the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board. These programs will engage 600 students in grades 5-12 to foster interest in automotive and mobility careers. By offering high-quality STEM programming, mentorship, and hands-on projects, we aim to enhance students’ readiness for the automotive industry future workforce, cultivating their software-related skills and industry knowledge.

Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade of Ontario, Victor Fedeli and Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton with recipients of the RFW Program, including Mathstronauts’ Director, Sehrish Zehra (front row, third from right) and Instructional Developer, Bryan Williams (second row, third from right) at the OVIN Announcement Event on May 30, 2023.

 

Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Automotive Sector

We are committed to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). This funding aims to level the playing field for underrepresented groups in the automotive sector and reducing stigmas around pursuing careers in this field. 

Our programs will embody EDI principles through diverse curriculum content, featuring varied ethnic, racial, and gender identities. We will integrate inclusive examples of scientists, engineers, and researchers, fostering cultural awareness. Hands-on activities and projects will emphasize cultural diversity. Fostering inclusivity will help students connect, understand diverse STEM careers, and learn mutual acceptance and respect.

GM Canada will provide students a chance to connect with real-world STEM mentors in class, sharing their automotive career journeys. These mentors are GM Canada’s engineers and technologists, and they will raise awareness about the diversity of automotive jobs, demystify STEM jobs, and showcase their dynamic work settings.

Quotes

OCI is grateful for the support from the Government of Ontario. The three core elements that make the Regional Future Workforce program stand out are its regional reach, the inclusion of equity-deserving groups, and the reach across multiple audience segments.” 

Claudia Krywiak, President and CEO of Ontario Centre of Innovation.

Ontario has emerged on the global stage as the jurisdiction that will usher in the future of the automotive sector as it transitions through electrification, connectivity, autonomy and mobility solutions. The Regional Future Workforce program is another example of Ontario’s commitment to ensuring that we have a highly-skilled and diverse workforce across the province to power this industry for years to come.

Raed Kadri, Head of the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, Ontario Centre of Innovation

This funding will play an important role in preparing our youth to respond to the needs and challenges of tomorrow. As Hamilton and Ontario continue to grow at a rapid pace, it is critical that we encourage young Ontarians with an interest in the skilled trades to pursue employment opportunities in that area. I am confident that this funding will contribute to that end – enabling great community organizations like Mathstronauts to continue to provide high quality STEM programming to youth from grades 5-12, and encourage their pursuit of rewarding careers that support local communities and economies.

Neil Lumsden, MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.

For more information and/or PR inquiries, please contact: Priska Handojo (p.handojo@mathstronauts.ca)

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Driving 950 Ontario youth to develop a passion for engineering and technology via the STEAM Engine Program

5 June 2023

Today, we’re celebrating our STEAM Engine Program!

The 2022 – 2023 program just wrapped up. We are excited to share some highlights from the school year with you!

STEAM Engine Program in-class is a hands-on, project-based learning (PjBL) STEM program provided to Grades 5 – 8 students.

The STEAM Engine Program started in 2016 in just one school in Hamilton. Now, it’s reaching hundreds of students throughout Ontario, all the way from Oshawa to Kitchener! 

This year, we brought STEAM Engine to 950 students from 19 different schoolsThroughout the program, 12 real life STEM professionals from GM Canada shared their own academic and professional journeys, give memorable advice, and demystify STEM career paths.

STEAM Engine is also closing the STEM gender gap, as almost half of its participants are female or gender non-conforming students. We are so proud to be making this change within the STEM field.

Thank you to our STEAM Engine sponsors, Hamilton Community Foundation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and General Motors – we couldn’t have run this program without them.

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Helping Students Build Technical Skills and Confidence

The STEAM Engine Program inspired many students this year, including Muqadasa, a newcomer student from Pauline Johnson Elementary School, Hamilton.

Muqadasa didn’t just learn digital literacy skills in this program, but her instructor also helped her learn the English language so she could communicate with her classmates.

Mentoring Opportunities from STEM Professionals

Students in the STEAM Engine Program got to hear from real-life STEM professionals from GM Canada! These mentors shared their own academic and professional journeys, gave memorable advice, and demystified STEM career paths