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ICE Challenges

Industry-led training for our future workforce

Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Challenges help local students learn about the world of work, develop 21st century skills, and grow their confidence by applying design thinking skills to problems facing local businesses and community organizations.

After participating…

93% of students feel more aware of challenges facing real companies

90% of students feel more prepared to problem solve real challenges companies face

97% of students have a better understanding of their skills and how they can be developed

How it works

We work with local employers and community organizations in all sectors to create a challenge that is relevant to their company and also to young people.

These challenges are then presented to students are part of a live event (virtual for now) or an asynchronous digital learning experience.

In both formats, ICE Challenge participants are guided through a design thinking methodology that they apply to their local challenge. Through this process they learn about the nature of their challenge, the company that has presented it, and generate fresh ideas and solutions.

Participation in this program is geared towards grade 11-12 students enrolled in a Specialist High Skills Major Program (SHSM) at their high school

Learn more about SHSM


2021 - 2022 ICE
Challenge Dates

To Be Announced

I wouldn’t have passed up this experience for anything. After engaging with the incredible talent, I found myself with an interview at my now wonderful workplace.


I feel more highly of myself I guess...this challenge made me have to think outside of the box and take initiative over things and I found it very helpful doing this.

—StudentSt. Mary’s CSS (@ Waterloo Region Small Business Centre)

This event taught me how to communicate with others in order to effectively solve an existing problem for a real life business. I learned that though companies may have successes, in order to maintain this success they constantly need new ideas.

—StudentSt. David’s (@ THEMUSEUM)

The students said they felt valued. They commented that they felt as they could actually make a contribution to real problems and challenges the tech companies are dealing with and that what they've learned in school could be put into action and "tested out" with real problems. The day both inspired and opened students' eyes to careers and the types of creative opportunities they might like to pursue.


For me, participating confirmed my interest in computer science. Being able to work directly with a company provided me with the knowledge of the skill sets that startups are looking for.


I think it’s a great opportunity for students to come together and work through a real life problem while providing the organizations with a different viewpoint on challenges they might be facing.


This event helped me discover new strengths I did not know I had.

—StudentResurrection CSS (@Communitech)

Community Partners Needed!

Every organization has challenges. You can provide students with a real-world learning experience simply by sharing them with us.

Here's what you can expect as a (virtual) ICE Challenge Community Partner:

  • We will help you refine your challenge idea and statement to be meaningful to students
  • We will record you presenting your challenge statement and a brief interview or demonstration to help students better understand the nature of your problem
  • You will get ideas and input back from students, and have an opportunity to provide feedback to them, to extend their thinking and learning

If you have design professionals on your staff, we can also put your expertise to use to help deepen students learning.

Thank you to the organizations who participated in 2020-21:

  • Centre in the Square
  • Charcoal Group
  • City of Kitchener
  • Clarion Medical Technologies
  • Green Hart Farms
  • Magnet Forensics
  • Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
  • Sustainable Waterloo Region
  • Waterloo Region Marketing Tourism Corporation
  • Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin

Thank you for your partnership

This program is supported in part by the generosity of:

Contact us for more information

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