SHAD: The Summer Program Every High School Student Should Participate In

Kyle Blaney

Kyle Blaney of SHAD

Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Kyle Blaney, of SHAD, to learn more about their fantastic SHAD summer enrichment program for high school students. Learn more about this incredible program in our Q&A below!

Natalie: Tell us about the SHAD summer enrichment program. 

Kyle: SHAD is a unique and intense summer program for high achieving students in grades 10,11, and 12. The program offers an opportunity to live at a Canadian university with 50 other like-minded students to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and business entrepreneurship. Since there are no marks or no tests in the program, students get a chance to support each other in a non-competitive environment. SHAD really helps students to grow as individuals and can help them decide what to pursue after high school.

SHAD was started in the early 1980s. This year we are adding a 13th campus, and expect to surpass 15,000 alumni.

Natalie: On the SHAD website, it states that students participate in a variety of lectures, workships, activities and projects in the STEM disciplines.  Specifically, what do SHAD students learn in these programs and experiments (ie. experiment on Ecoli? Use AutoCAD?) Can you also provide some examples of guest speakers and the topics they’ve lectured on, in the past? 

Kyle: While every campus emphasizes STEM and business, what you do at each campus depends on the facilities and staff members. The program is a little different at each campus; there is no set curriculum. Students might end up looking at a simulated airplane crash to determine if it collided in midair or a ground crash. They could also be doing cheek swabs on cells to examine genetic markers, or be using an electron microscope to investigate things happening on a small scale. Entrepreneurs and executives come in and help students understand how to do an effective business pitch and conduct marketing research. At the end of the program, students put these skills into practice when they pitch ideas to venture capitalists. Although the curriculum varies, the SHAD programs guarantees that participants will be immersed in STEM and business.

Guest speakers in the program are very well respected in their specialty areas: professors, motivational speakers, CEOs from nearby startups. Sometimes students get to tour different facilities, speak to industry leaders who are SHAD alumni, or listen to a faculty dean talk about what it is like to train people.

Natalie: What sort of skills do students come away with once the program is done?

Kyle: Personal growth is a major part of attending the program. The small number of students at each campus allows students to be inspired by their peers. They also get a well-rounded view of STEM subjects and business entrepreneurship. Students can also put their creative side to work by building robots and creating art.

Participation in SHAD is also beneficial with university and scholarship applications.

Natalie: Are bursaries and scholarships available to students who need to live away from home, during the program? 

Kyle: Students apply for the program first. Once they are accepted, they can choose four of thirteen campuses, and the program will guarantee that they can go to one of those four. When deciding which campus to choose, they should consider where they want to live and what university they plan to attend. The program highly encourages students to choose campuses where they may wish to study for university.

The program fees are $4,500 for Canadian students, and $8,000 for international students. There is no application fee. Once students are accepted, there are numerous scholarship and bursary opportunities. Successful applicants are automatically considered for scholarships based on merit, and if they need more financial aid they can apply for bursaries.  SHAD works closely with families to ensure that students do not decline the opportunity owing to financial difficulties.

Natalie: There is an opportunity for students to do an internship after the program. Can you explain this opportunity in more detail?

Kyle: The internship is an optional opportunity that occurs in August. All students in the program have the opportunity to compete for an internship, but the spots are limited. Past internship opportunities have included positions at financial institutions, software companies, and medical research facilities. Students being considered for an internship go through an interview process. The company ultimately chooses their preferred intern, but both students and employers must be comfortable with the match.

Natalie: The program has almost 15,000 alumni. What programs have your alumni gone on to pursue? What, if any, possibilities are there for networking with other SHAD graduates?

SHAD alumni have been successful in a huge variety of career paths. SHAD alumni are winners of a variety of Canadian academic and entrepreneurial awards. The alumni include 27 Rhodes Scholars, 70 Loran scholars, and finalists in 20 under 20 and 40 under 40 competitions. A SHAD alumni has even become a Dragon on CBC’s Dragon Den.

SHAD alumni are generally very helpful and love to meet the next generation of participants. The SHAD alumni have helped a start-up with patent application. Additionally, there is a SHAD Angel network consisting of alumni who only invest in projects that have a SHAD alumni as a founder. The SHAD program is very much a shared experience that creates a bonding opportunity between alumni and new participants.

Natalie: When you are evaluating an application for the program, what are some of the key things that you look for

Kyle: The SHAD program looks for high achieving students who are well-rounded. Marks are important for the application, but they are not the only determining factor. Typically, students have an average of 85% or above, but things such as involvement in student clubs and volunteer work are also considered. Applicants are required to submit an essay that demonstrates their individual creativity, and letters of reference are also considered. Students should be able to showcase their curiosity, their desire to have a unique experience and their excitement to work with other people to become the very best they can be.


Applications for the SHAD program are currently open. The application is available at The application deadline is November 30th, 2015.  


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