Articles, Features, and Interviews in the Press
This Week in KV
"This Week in KV" is a weekly publication featuring news and events from the Kennebecasis Valley just east of Saint John, New Brunswick.
October 5, 2002
Participation in Shad Valley Program and general background
Paula White
This Week in KV

Program shapes tomorrow's leaders

Emmanuel Elmajian isn't your average teenager. Well...he is, but he isn't.

In some ways, he's your typical 17-year-old. He enjoys tennis and soccer, school, hanging out with his friends.

In other ways, My. Elmajian is far from typical. He's well on his way to becoming a business tycoon. His knowledge of the financial market at his age is staggering. In fact, he's been involved in the buying and selling of stocks since the age of 13.

These are the qualities that landed Mr. Elmajian, a Grade 12 student at Kennebecasis Valley High School, in Shad Valley at the University of Waterloo last summer. Shad Valley is a program that has been operating since 1981. Its focus is to develop innovative leaders through outstanding learning experiences, working with businesses and other partners in Canada and internationally. In order to be accepted in the Shad International program, extremely high academic achievement is a must, especially in areas of math and science. If a student has demonstrated these abilities, the Shad program pushes their intellectual capacity to the limit, be it through science, technology, mathematics, engineering and entrepreneurship. Emmanuel was not only accepted into the program, he was also awarded one of two $3,000 scholarships based on his academic achievements.

"They target people who crave the maths and sciences and have a strong affinity for business, and are creative and willing to meet new people and try new things," he explained. "They're looking for scientific, mathematical, and entrepreneurial diversity... They want to tap into the creative side of youth."

Mr. Elmajian chose the program at Waterloo because it is known for its mathematics and engineering programs. In face, it has ranked number one in Maclean's Magazine's national reputational survey nine years in a row.

"It's up in the ranks of MIT in terms of engineering and math, so I wanted to get some of that mathematical geniue there," he said. "A lot of the staff at Shad are from the host campus. Four of the staff were faculty from the University of Waterloo, and you get that exposure - being right in there."

During the four weeks of the program, which ran from June 30 to July 26, Shad students attend lectures and workshops facilitated by some of the best professors and business minds in North America, including representatives from Apple Computers. Students also took part in a wide range of recreational activities, from martial arts and other sports to music and crafts.

One of the main components of the program is for the students to invent, design, build and market a product. The students were divided into four design teams of 12 and each group had to come up with a product that would benefit the environment in some way. They then had to brainstorm for an idea, build a functional prototype, come up with a business plan and create a marketing strategy. One group came up with the idea to manufacture a stool made of used sports equipment. Their idea was that sports bars and clubs would buy the stools. Another group invented a gadget that removes chalk dust from classroom erasers. The third group of students invented a dual flushing system for toilets. The device could be installed into existing toilets and is designed to conserve water. In other words, depending on the (ahem) "situation," consumers could flush with a small amount of water, or, if required, a large amount.

Mr. Elmajian's group came up with an innovative idea for a solar-powered backpack. By harnessing solar energy, a person would be able to play their disc player by simply plugging it into the backpack. The project earned the group the adjudicator's award out of the four projects.

"The sun is a natural source of energy that is untapped," Mr. Elmajian said. "There are solar technologies that exist, but a lot of them are very large scale, and people aren't willing to delve into purchasing this equipment, be it solar panels for your house or a solar-powered car. It's not really realistic at this point, so we thought a solar-powered backpack is the next step into larger technologies."

After completing the projects, the students chose one to submit to the Royal Bank Shad Entrepreneurship Competition. This competition, scheduled for Oct. 17, pits projects from the nine Shad programs across Canada against one another. The Waterloo students chose the dual flush system for their submission. They had to send in the functional prototype, as well as a promotional video displaying the developing and manufacturing methods. They also had to create an informative website and come up with a comprehensive business plan. Mr. Elmajian headed up the team responsible for putting the business plan together. It included simulated financials for the upcoming fiscal year, market methods, promotional techniques, patents, warrenties and surveys - the whole shebang. Mr. Elmajian described the project as "quite intense." He completed it only recently.

"It did take quite a lot of time. Sometimes it was stressful, but also enjoyable."

The projects are evaluated by the Royal Bank. They will be on display on Oct. 17 at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. Mr. Elmajian is thinking of attending.

"I think it will do well, just because of the concept," he said, talking about the project's chances of winning the competition. "And water, of course, is a major concern environmentally."

Overall, Emmanuel found the Shad program highly rewarding.

"There's a lot of potential for people around here to get involved," he continued. "I just know that there are so many students around here who would be interested in these things but they're just not sure of the program itself. Or they may see it more as an extension of school, but it's really not that at all."

The Shad experience even led to a summer work term for Mr. Elmajian at Innovatia, a Saint John-based company that offers software systems training for employees at large companies.

Mr. Elmajian comes by his business instincts honestly. His parents, Elie and Maria Elmajian, own the highly successful Mother Nature's and Vivaldi's restaurants in Saint John. He often helps out with business decisions, and even created Vivaldis' website.

Although business and engineering are his first loves, Emmanuel also has a strong artistic streak. In June, he wrote his Grade 10 piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music, earning the highest score in Atlantic Canada and receiving the prestigious silver medal - one of many he's received over the years.

He also plays the tenor sax, and is a member of both the concert and jazz bands at KVHS. He has performed at many local concerts, including the May 2001 Red Cross fund-raiser, and with Symphony New Brunswick. Mr. Elmajian studies under Irena Roy.

With all of his interests, it's a wonder Emmanuel was able to make a choice about what career to pursue. But he has. He plans to study engineering, but will continue to pursue business and technology interests as well. His dream job is to work with a large company and generate and create technically advanced ideas.

By the way, Mr. Elmajian's favourite company to watch on the stock market is Cisco Systems. It's a company that offers networking gear. He visited Cisco Systems in Silicon Valley in July, 2000. John Chambers, CEO of the company is Mr. Elmajian's idol.