Change is inevitable. Innovate or stagnate – the choice is yours

Posted on November 01, 2021 | By Dawn Chafe | 0 Comments

“At times like that you can either put yourself on hold waiting for things to (fingers crossed) get back to normal, or you can make a detour. Those detours can take you on the adventure of a lifetime.”


Six years before the oldest of this year’s 30 Under 30 Innovators was born, I stood on top of a CANDU nuclear reactor at a facility outside Ottawa. There I was, 17 years old, looking through a window in the floor, watching scattered unknown ‘things’ floating through the heavy water—scientists were testing various elements for their response to the neutron moderator.

That same day, I tried out an early prototype of the Canadarm. You might not know it, but the Canadarm was initially developed in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to load fuel into CANDU reactors. It’s adaptation for NASA didn’t start until 1975. The version I encountered required you to put your arm inside a mechanical sleeve; the gangly robotic assembly looked like an unwieldy extension of your own appendage. And it was—unwieldy, I mean. It took a lot of strength to move the mechanism enough on your end to open and close the ‘fingers’ on the other. The best I could manage was a slight twitch.

A few days before that, I watched a basketball go from bouncing one minute, to being dunked in liquid nitrogen the next, to shattering across the floor seconds later. That was my orientation to science week at the Terry Fox Youth Centre in Ottawa. I had no idea what the rest of the stay held in store and my mind was already blown.

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