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Concordia awards tuition bursaries to promising youth inventors at Expo-sciences Hydro-Québec

The Montreal regional finals of the annual science fair showcased 70+ projects from francophone high school students
April 16, 2024

A crowd of young people in a large interior atrium.

Remember your high school science fair? Maybe you built an erupting volcano or observed a seedling grow. Or, if you’re like some of the participants at this year’s Expo-sciences Hydro-Québec, perhaps you invented an artificial intelligence-powered garbage can that sorts and reduces waste. Or a specialized web tool that protects against phishing.

March 21 to 23 marked the Montreal 2024 regional finals – secondary and college component of the annual science fair organized by Technoscience Région métropolitaine, a member of Réseau Technoscience. The non-profit organization promotes and makes scientific culture more accessible, encouraging youth to pursue careers in science and technology.

‘A beautiful opportunity’

This year’s festivities were held at Concordia’s Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV Building). More than 100 exhibitors from local francophone CEGEPs and high schools showcased 78 projects covering a wide range of scientific topics.

“Concordia has been working on this event for a few years with the English school boards. After the pandemic, the francophone school service centres approached us, and we saw it as a beautiful opportunity,” says Joanie Boivin, manager of academic and international conferences.

She explains that, in addition to providing an avenue for prospective students to explore the Sir George Williams Campus, Expo-sciences demonstrates the importance Concordia places on these partnerships.

“Concordia wants to support students. It’s an opportunity for recruitment, but it’s also important to us to support youth in their endeavours.”

A young man and woman standing in front of a science project and holding a large black lock From left: Alexander Wang and Wendy Wen.

The kids are all right

Simon Desrosiers is the executive director of Technoscience Région métropolitaine. He says the COVID-19 pandemic impacted participation in the fair in recent years. When they went virtual, many younger students lost the opportunity to learn about the event from their elders.

Fortunately, for the 2024 edition, first-time participation has been booming.

“It’s a great comeback,” he says.

While the subjects varied widely, one common thread seems to be the exhibitors’ social and environmental consciences.

Anastasia and Alexander Skorobogatiy of École sécondaire Felix Leclerc developed two prototypes for their project, CONFO&MOBILE vs LA DOULEUR, a piece of wearable tech meant to offer pain relief through heat. It’s a topic that is close to home for the students, whose father suffers from chronic pain.

Other projects included Bite Me, a handheld AI-powered camera used to identify dental issues. One of its inventors, Nour Bouayad, shared that her team was inspired to create the technology to help address the widespread lack of dental coverage experienced by many Quebecers.

“The youth are aware of the news, of technology. They’re very sensitive to what is going on around them. They see the research trends. They are very in sync,” Desrosiers says.

“A lot of participants are interested in the impact of cellphone use on morale and general health. Other students are exploring artificial intelligence. This is the genre of project we are seeing.”

Four people (two women and two men) standing in a line and smiling for the camera. From left: Vice-Dean Christine DeWolf, Samuel Cumming, Bao-Vy Chiem and Dean Mourad Debbabi.

Big ideas, big winners

In addition to polishing their pitches, exhibitors were up for a bevy of prizes. The winners were named on Saturday, March 23 at the closing ceremonies.

The accolades included three $2,500 tuition bursaries: one each from the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Office of the Provost. Prizes were doubled if the project team was a duo.

The Skorobogatiy siblings took home the Gina Cody School prize.

“We are really happy to get this opportunity. We like this university. We got the tour and we think it’s really a contending university for us.” Anastasia says.

“It looks like a great, inclusive place for everybody,” Alexander adds.

Stoking a passion for science

“Events such as Expo-sciences play a crucial role in awakening youth interest in science. They embody our conviction at Concordia that science, engineering and technology must be accessible to all youth, to all parents, to train our workforce in priority fields,” shared Mourad Debbabi, dean of the Gina Cody School, in his closing remarks. 

“It is heartening to see science and technology celebrated with such enthusiasm!”

Debabbi expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to creating and organizing the event, including the Technoscience team and Hydro-Québec for “their inestimable support.”

He also expressed thanks to Concordia staff and acknowledged the student competitors for their impressive efforts.

“I congratulate all the participants for their exceptional commitment, their passion for science and technology and their efforts toward building a sustainable and equitable society!”

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