Victoria native given chance to compete in prestigious Silicon Valley academic challenge

derekDerek Jacoby grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, and attended the University of Victoria. Now this true-blooded Canadian shifts his focus to the Valley.

Derek is one of just 80 (selected from more than 1,600 applicants) students who have been spending their summer at the Singularity University Graduate Studies Program in California. The program, which began June 19 and will end August 28, tests students to develop solutions to pressing concerns like home energy, water, vertical farming, up-cycling, and even space exploration.

“I came to Singularity University to interact with world-class speakers and students who share my desire to solve the world’s problems with exponentially expanding technologies,” said Derek. “Scientists and entrepreneurs are modern day magicians who make the impossible happen every day. At Singularity, I’ve seen a lot of that magic and shared some of my own.” Derek’s resume is storied, including a decade at Microsoft in a variety of roles on the Windows team and Microsoft research, including heading a project to look at speech recognition on mobile devices. 

Founded in 2008 by futurist and inventor Dr. Ray Kurzweil and space evangelist Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Singularity University is an academic institution “with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address ‘humanity’s grand challenges.'” The institution’s flagship Graduate Studies Program is a 10-week interdisciplinary curriculum designed to facilitate understanding, collaboration, and innovation across a broad range of scientific and technological disciplines. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley.

In Silicon Valley, nothing is impossible. The depth of talent, funding, and facilities available here are astounding, [explains Derek]. The network of contacts I made here at Singularity University will let me bring a small slice of that culture back home to British Columbia.

“This year’s Graduate Studies Program class was truly exceptional in their past accomplishments, and their drive to accomplish even more to benefit humanity,” said Salim Ismail, Executive Director and CEO of SU. “As individuals and collaborative teams, the unique perspectives and level of innovation on the team projects was impressive. We look forward to following the students’ achievements and each team’s progress. We anticipate many great things from this group as they continue to address the grand challenges.”