It seems like Stephen Lake’s Kindergarten teacher may have had a crystal ball in her classroom – on his final Kindergarten report card she described him as a “budding engineer.” Fast forward 16 years and that “budding engineer” is sporting a new iron ring and will be graduating from Waterloo’s mechatronics engineering program this spring.
Lake’s interest in engineering has always gone hand-in-hand with his passion for entrepreneurship. Before the age of 16 he launched two companies — one that developed high efficiency LED lighting systems and the other associated with the DJ/entertainment field. His business acumen was a major reason he was named one of 2007’s Top 20 Under 20, a national awards program that honours young Canadians who have demonstrated a high level of achievement, innovation and leadership.
In 2010, he beat out hundreds of other would-be entrepreneurs to join The Next 36, an elite Toronto-based program that provides mentorship from top business leaders and the capital to launch a high-tech venture. With the help of the program, Lake developed Playfit, a mobile phone application that motivates users to get out and run spurred on by rewards such as movie tickets.
“I think that an engineering education and business knowledge are valuable tools for working in a wide variety of areas that may not be traditionally associated with engineering. Healthy living, which Playfit promotes, is certainly one of them,” says Lake, who as the head coach of the University of Waterloo Dragon Boat Club, practises what he preaches.
Once he’s completed his mechatronics engineering degree Lake’s short-term goal is to continue developing Playfit.
“In the longer-term, I’m very interested in further studies in the area of biomedical engineering,” says Lake, noting that his past few co-op positions have focused on robotic surgery and other medical technology research/development. “Eventually I’d like to build an organization to bring innovation in this area to market so it can have an impact on our society.”