Professor and Founding Director, Centre for Knowledge Integration, University of Waterloo
Ed Jernigan has spent every July for the past three decades living and working with some of the brightest high school students in Canada. Jernigan heads the University of Waterloo's Shad Valley program, a summer enrichment opportunity that gives these exceptional students a hands-on experience of science, mathematics, engineering, and entrepreneurship.
Ed also directs Waterloo's undergraduate program in Knowledge Integration, an interdisciplinary program that stresses synthesis, communication, and creativity. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a faculty member in the Systems Design Engineering department at the University of Waterloo for three decades, including two terms as chair.
At the core of Ed's approach is finding ways to give students the challenges they need in order to grow. "You don't know what you're capable of unless you push yourself," he says. "The conventional school system doesn't typically challenge those students who are capable of more." He stresses the four C's that are central to the Shad Valley experience: challenge, creativity, community, and connections. Schools need to do a better job, he says, of building community among students, challenging them, and giving them the opportunity to fail without penalty.
By 2030, he'd like to see schools move away from the notion that education is job training, and toward the goal of teaching creative, critical thinking. In his private life, Ed is a recent grandfather, a juggler and a long-time recreational basketball player. After 40 years on the court, he's scheduled for hip-replacement surgery on the last day of the Equinox Summit.