With virtual reality, robotic hands and bottle rockets Saint John’s Brilliant Labs is trying to train the next generation of STEM enthusiasts, and will now have $1.6 million to do it.
“We are absolutely amazed by the creativity and innovation that these young people have. If we can all just get together and empower them, I think Atlantic Canada is in very good hands,” said executive director Jeff Willson.
In order to foster future aerospace engineers, scientists and inventors Brilliant Labs received a grant from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency that is being supplemented with another $1-million combined contribution from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Willson says the funding will help the non-profit to double the amount available for its Brilliant Project Funding, a program that fund special projects in schools across Atlantic Canada.
The money will also help to create more makerspaces, and expand the footprint of the education project that has a presence in half the schools in Atlantic Canada across 85 communities.
But the newest offering opened up by the funding is an Intellectual Property Fund, which Willson says will help students take impressive ideas from the drawing book to the real world and the patent office.
“With some of this funding we’re going to be able to inspire young people to problem solve real world problems that are affecting their communities, their schools, themselves, their homes and then perhaps there’s a socially responsible entrepreneurial venture that comes out of it,” Willson said.
The minister of science and sport, Kirsty Duncan, was in Saint John to make the announcement and stressed the importance of fostering a love of STEM in the next generation.
“It’s not just enough to attract them to the careers in these fields, the STEM field, but we have to retain them. By developing a lifelong love, it will be good for the people of Atlantic Canada. They will have the skills for the jobs of the future,” Duncan said.