Gracious Kasheke first heard of the Science Unleashed: Research Growing the Economy (SURGE) Innovation program at Dalhousie when program head Dr. Aaron Newman came in to discuss it with his statistics in neuroscience class.
Dr. Newman's talk highlighted SURGE's unique approach to broadening the scope of professional opportunities for students within the sciences. "The emphasis placed on innovative technological advancements really caught my attention, as it's one of the largest growing industries today. When the opportunity to get involved presented itself, I had to try to take part," Gracious says.
SURGE immediately opened up a world of potential careers to Gracious, beyond the narrow scope that can often be prevalent within the sciences. "Most people only know of, or consider, two potential careers with a science degree: research and medicine," Gracious explains. "In terms of skills I have learned, and the information I have received through the program, I would be confident going into research, industry, marketing and I have even considered the path of entrepreneurship."
The program offers students a course in science and technology innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship, where students are inspired to find feasible scientific solutions to real-world problems.
"We undergo the process of implementing a potential commercial product as a solution. Throughout, we also learn and discuss key entrepreneurial information that can be applied to each of our own projects."
Whether Gracious starts his own business, or works under someone else's management, understanding the concerns that come with running a business has allowed him to be more effective in attending to those needs.
Gracious has been on board with SURGE as both a student and an intern, and has found that this experience has trained him beyond a typical class setting. "As an intern, I've learned the ins-and-outs of helping establish this new program amongst students. From organizing relevant events, to promoting and executing those events, there can be a lot to keep track of and can be difficult to pinpoint the perfect solution."
In working alongside Dr. Newman as an intern, Gracious has grown his critical-thinking skills and has become more open to challenging his own ideas as he worked towards his goals.
"Dr. Newman has certainly had the largest impact on me, in terms of what I have gained from this program," Gracious says. "He encourages the whole SURGE team to come together and collaborate on how to move the program forward. Everyone contributes to each aspect of the decision making process, which allows us to form our own ideas and to integrate them collaboratively and effectively with the goal of ensuring our program benefits students as much as possible."
Gracious has expanded his applicable skills through SURGE; the networking, collaborative thinking, knowledge of different markets and what it takes to implement a product in these markets, are all transferable to a variety of fields.
"SURGE has allowed me to base my future career around my own interests. I think that is exactly what SURGE has hoped to do, and in my opinion, they have done so successfully."
Whichever career path a student may choose to take, the team and organizers of SURGE are more than willing to help guide them along and support their chosen journey in any way they can.