About Our Founder, Kevin Cougler
Kevin started his career in the for profit space, as an entrepreneur, working in technology. From software development to I.T. solutions, at the time his role focused more on the development of business, business systems and creating sustainable business models. In 2005 he accepted a position as the National Program Manager with Partners In Research (PIR), a London, Ontario-based Canadian charity. It was his privilege to work with Dr. Ronald Calhoun who was the driving force behind Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. At Partners In Research (PIR), Kevin implemented Ron’s dream of connecting students in K-12 schools with researchers in post secondary institutions across Canada. The program was called Virtual Researcher On Call (VROC). Pre-dating such tools as FaceTime, the VROC program utilized videoconferencing units that required partnerships to be developed with industry leaders such as Tandberg and Cisco Systems Inc. In 2011, Kevin accepted the position of Executive Director when Ron retired. During his years with Partners In Research, he created such educational programs as Research Me, Live Event and numerous video podcasts including “This Week In Science and Education”.
These initiatives required relationships with universities and colleges across Canada as they were focussed on sharing the importance of research in the STEM fields with the broader Canadian audience. During this time it was his distinct pleasure to work with Dr. Doug Jones, Vice-Dean, University of Western Ontario and Dr. Eliot Phillipson, Past President, Canadian Foundation for Innovation and PIR Board Chair.
In 2014, Kevin founded STEM Camp and left Partners In Research in 2015 to pursue his dream of developing an education-focused summer camp. Starting with just two locations in London and Woodstock, STEM Camp grew to about 50 locations across Ontario in 2022, with over 10,000 campers, with continued expansion plans for the future.
"It is my hope that through STEM Camp, children will become excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics and consider STEM education paths which will lead toward STEM careers."
~ Kevin Cougler, STEM Camp
Elaborating on what compelled him to start STEM Camp, Kevin shares, “I founded STEM Camp to address Canada’s innovation challenge. After years of ranking amongst the top ten countries in the world, Canada’s ability to innovate plummeted out of the top 10, according to the 2013 Global Innovation Index. To be innovative, a country must have an extensive training program of STEM workers who are inspired to become the next generation of STEM thought leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators. This starts with STEM-based education which must be nurtured through fun and engaging STEM-based experiences. And you can never start too early! This is where our job begins at STEM Camp.”
A recent study (August 2022) by the C.D. Howe Institute brought more awareness to the issue of STEM labour shortages and provided recommendations for addressing labour gaps which were only augmented by the COVID-19 pandemic – underscoring that addressing this innovation challenge is only becoming even more pressing.
Kevin ensures that STEM Camp fulfills this critical purpose in many ways, including:
Fun and engaging STEM-based experiences at STEM Camp to nurture early exposure to STEM, which has been shown to result in an increased likelihood to explore STEM careers in the future.
Initiatives to especially encourage girls and young women, who are underrepresented in STEM fields, to participate as campers, counsellors and lead counsellors.
Connecting with government, post secondary institutions and private corporations to keep the promotion of STEM top-of-mind with these community stakeholders.