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Student duo wins community engagement prize with SCORE

November 12, 2014
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Two Simon Fraser University students have scored $5,000 with their idea for a local training program that exposes student innovators—from high school to grad school—to training and career experience in health technology.

Biomedical engineering PhD students Sujoy Ghosh Hajra and Careesa Liu pitched their initiative, the Surrey Collaborative Outreach and Research Experience (SCORE), at the inaugural SFU–Central City Community Engagement competition.

They won $5,000 from Central City property management company Blackwood Partners to implement their idea.

The competition will be held annually from 2014-2018 to encourage community/student engagement through innovation.

It was the students’ enthusiasm for the job possibilities associated with Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard, a health-technology research and business corridor, which led them to create SCORE. The program will provide students with hands-on research experience, scientific training, and mentorship from SFU researchers, local business leaders and community thought-leaders.

“The Central City neighbourhood is undergoing significant revitalization, led by Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard,” says Ghosh Hajra. “We hope to concurrently develop the future generation of highly qualified personnel to be leaders in these fields.”

Ghosh Hajra and Liu developed and ran a SCORE pilot program this past summer in collaboration with local companies such as MISL and HealthTech Connex, and with SFU researchers in engineering science and mechatronics engineering.

“Our goal is two-fold,” says Ghosh Hajra. “To give students an avenue for experiencing what a professional life in health technology and medical devices looks like, and to create a service-learning model that brings together students with city and industry supporters to work on solving real-life problems.”

Seventeen students participated in the pilot, ranging from Grade 9 students to medical and graduate students. They were so positive about their experience that Ghosh Hajra and Liu entered the community engagement competition in hopes of winning funds to expand the program.

Now that they’ve won, they plan to develop SCORE into a yearlong program, with students attending part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer.