Tech philanthropist Shafin Diamond Tejani helps launch SFU’s new girls tech camp
SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences, in partnership with the Surrey School District, is launching a new tech camp for girls this summer. And now, thanks to a generous donation from one of Vancouver’s well-known tech entrepreneurs, the camp can get bigger and better in the coming years.
Victory Square Girls Tech Camp is running from July 10-14 and 17-21 at two Surrey elementary schools. The program provides girls in Grades six and seven the opportunity to engage in hands-on workshops, develop fundamental computer programming and engineering skills, and build a project to present to a judging panel on the final day of the camp.
“We’ve designed a challenging curriculum that allows the girls to explore topics such as coding, circuits and electronic components,” says Daniela Abasi, manager of outreach programs for the Faculty of Applied Sciences. “Our camp instructors include faculty members, students and graduates from SFU’s computing science and engineering programs.”
This year, the five-day camp is being held at Cindrich Elementary School and Green Timbers Elementary School.
“We want to provide more girls in Surrey an opportunity to learn important technology skills and take pride in their achievements,” says Rani Gandham, manager of community school partnerships for the Surrey School District. “This camp allows them to learn outside the classroom and be exposed to a field that often has an underrepresentation of women.”
The camp and its potential to encourage more girls to pursue STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math) caught the eye of Shafin Diamond Tejani, CEO and founder of Victory Square Technologies. Tejani has established a $75,000 matching fund to help grow the camp for future years—that means he will match contributions made by other individuals, thereby doubling the impact of their donations.
Tejani’s philanthropic efforts were recently recognized when the B.C. Tech Association named him “Person of the Year” at the 2017 Technology Impact Awards, and he is encouraging fellow members from the tech and business community to join him in supporting this camp.
"I am so proud and honoured to be able to assist SFU and Surrey Schools with this important initiative," says Tejani. "The camp is a great way to reach girls at a key age when they begin considering options for their future. Together we can champion STEM with girls through creating curiosity, celebrating accomplishments, and giving them the confidence to grow and excel."
Although the camp has just launched, there is already an overwhelming amount of interest from students and parents.
“This year, we only had 25 spots at each school,” says Gandham. “At our first meeting at one of the schools, an additional 15 students showed up in hopes of having a spot in camp. It was heartbreaking to have to turn them away.”
To help support this camp and ensure it can reach more students in the coming years, please visit www.sfu.ca/fas/victorysquaregirlstechcamp. Donations will be matched and organizers hope that no more qualified girls will have to be turned away from this camp.
“Investing now in our girls will mean great things for the community at large when the girls grow up,” says Gandham. “We hope these girls will leave the camp feeling empowered and will begin to see themselves studying and working in the STEM fields and one day changing the world.”