News / Calgary

University of Calgary revives program for high-achieving high-schoolers

Bruce Gao was a big-dreaming teen lacking a little confidence.

The now-18-year-old Calgary resident and a partner had come up with an idea for a smartphone app that provided guidance to properly align solar panels for maximum utilization.

"I had been sitting on it for awhile, but I never really had — I guess you would say — the balls to make it real," he said.

But then he enrolled in a program run by Shad Valley International, which provides guidance to youngsters on using their talents to solve global issues.

A short time later, Gao is sitting pretty with 500 downloads of his app, called SimplySolar, and he has eyes on mass-marketing in third-world countries, where the use of solar panels can often prove critical for everyday living.

"I would not have gone ahead without it . . . it was the Shad Valley program that really opened my eyes and taught me to use my talents," he said.

Gao was on hand Tuesday as the University of Calgary announced it was reviving an agreement with Shad Valley after a partnership run though much of the 1980s and 1990s was ceased due to cost.

In July, the U of C will welcome 48 students from across Canada in a one-month program.

"It's really about broadening their minds about possibilities — really trying to excite them around innovation," said university President Dr. Elizabeth Cannon.

Canadian or international students in grades 10 to 12 are welcome to apply for the program at

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