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Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Students Aspire to Solve Climate Issues

Watch to learn more about the Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Program

Throughout the Winter 2022 term, 27 students from the University of Waterloo participated in the Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate Innovation stream. WE Accelerate is an innovative work-term option for undergraduate co-op students entering their first work term. 

Over the course of 9-weeks, the students worked in seven interdisciplinary teams to create solutions related to problem spaces identified by the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3), which is one of Canada’s leading climate institutes. IC3 is a hub that brings together students and scientists exploring innovative research and education that empowers business, governments, and civil society to respond effectively to climate change.

I was passionate about the climate change space. That’s why I chose the innovation stream. The stream in particular allowed me to put my interests in to action. I was able to grow my network connecting with industry experts and school faculty that I didn’t know.

Gabriel Codina, Community Solar

The students attended weekly programming with Concept by Velocity, Problem Lab, and Zero Experience, and met with their assigned Concept Coaches and Climate Change Mentors for expert advice. 

The top three teams were awarded $10,000 in prize money on April 1st, 2022. All pitches were exceptional but saw Trees4Seas, Community Solar and Blu-Wave walk away as the Winter 2022 WE Accelerate pitch winners.

1st place: Trees4Seas

Jacqueline Tse, Faculty of Science, Manaal Faisal, Faculty of Health, and Thaqifah Kassim, Faculty of Environment, placed first, taking home a prize of $5,000. Their team, Trees4Seas, worked on a sustainable coastal erosion solution. 

Watch Trees4Seas – WE Accelerate Pitch

WE Accelerate gave us the more approachable start to innovation. The field can be pretty intimidating for people that are new to it. The program gave us the break down of what to do and also gave us a good team to work with. It is a really nice introduction to the innovation stream.

Thaqifah Kassim, Trees4Seas

2nd place: Community Solar

Abdul-Hannan Ahmad, Faculty of Health, Adam Heibein, Faculty of Environment, Gabriel Codina, Faculty of Engineering, and Nathan Leslie, Faculty of Arts, placed second, taking home a prize of $3,500. Their team, Community Solar, focused on making solar investment accessible for the average consumer. 

Watch Community Solar – WE Accelerate Pitch

The set of skills you develop through the WE Accelerate program is different than you can get from any other co-op, just based off the fact that it’s more of an entrepreneur mindset program. 

Nathan Leslie, Community Solar

3rd place: Blu-Wave

Tal Kaufman, Faculty of Engineering, Tanvi Sharma, Faculty of Science, Terrance Chen, Faculty of Environment, and Vanessa Navabi, Faculty of Science, placed third, taking home a prize of $1,500. Their team, Blu-Wave, aimed to make oil spill cleanups faster, friendlier, and cheaper. 

Watch Blu-Wave – WE Accelerate Pitch

The part that I enjoyed the most is the collaborative aspect. It was nice to get back together and work with people to solve a problem.

Tal Kaufman, Blu-Wave

We would like to give a huge thanks to Co-operative Education, the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3), Problem Lab, Zero Experience, our Concept Coaches, Dinuka Gunaratne, Heather Garrick, Matt Neill, Prashanth Madhi, Rachel Figueiredo, Ryan Chiu, and Shoma Sinha, our Climate Change Mentors, Franis Poulin, Ian Rowlands, Plinio Morita, and Arlene Oetomo, and our panel of Judges, Simon Glauser (Managing Director, Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change), Katherine Heggtveit (Workplace Innovation Manager, St. Paul’s University College), John Dick (Director, Velocity Campus) for taking the time to support the students in the We Accelerate Innovation Stream. 

You don’t need to be an expert to solve a big problem.

Gabriel Codina, Community Solar