Catalyst Summer Program

The Catalyst Summer Program is a 2-week program that offers a unique, interdisciplinary approach to the “traditional leadership program”. Drawing from the University of Waterloo’s strengths in engineering, science, and innovation, high school students develop leadership skills within a community and problem-based context - with real opportunities to put new skills to practice!

The Catalyst program, and especially the volunteer placement with ESQ camps, really helped build my confidence, leadership, and independence.

What to expect

The opportunity to build, test, research, present and collaborate on projects rooted in Engineering design, business and entrepreneurship and research.  Participants will build leadership skills while working on STEM-related projects and attending talks and workshops from Graduate students and Faculty.  The Summer program provides the opportunity for participants to gain experience practicing design thinking and problem-solving learning how to build ideas into a business and use their technical skills!

Who is it for?

The Catalyst Summer Program is only open to current high school students (entering grade 10 or higher) and each applicant must submit an application in order to complete registration. Each session will be restricted to approximately twenty-five students.  

Space is limited to 25 spots per session (75 total). If you are successfully accepted into the program, you will then receive a link to register in a session on a first-come first-serve basis. 

This program is planned to run in-person for Summer 2023

How many sessions are offered?

We are planning for three sessions to run in Summer 2023:

  • Session I - July 10th-21st
  • Session II - July 24th-August 4th
  • Session III - August 14th-25th

If you are accepted into the program, we will send links for you to choose the available session that works best for you within our registration system on a first come, first serve basis.

Program Costs

The program cost is $675+HST. A special bursary program is available for those in financial need. Please see our ESQ Bursaries and Awards page for more info. 

Please note:

The registration fee is due only upon acceptance into the program. If accepted, applicants will receive an e-mail which provides information about using our registration system and paying the registration fee. There is no application fee for this program.

Acceptable payment methods: 

Credit or Debit card:

Catalyst accepts MasterCard, VISA and American Express as well as Debit cards (non-Interac). Card numbers are kept with the utmost security. All charges are processed directly by the university and will appear on your credit card bill as either "U of W Cashiers Office" or "U of Waterloo ESQ (Engineering Science Quest)".

We do not accept cash or cheque payment.

Credit Card and debit payment must be made through our online registration system, we are not able to process payment on the phone or in person. 


Applications for 2023 are now closed. We appreciate your patience as we evaluate applications. 

Submission Cutoff Dates

Summer Program applications will be considered in three rounds. After each round's cutoff date, we will notify all applicants of their status . If you are not accepted in a round, you will still be considered in the subsequent rounds. We recommend submitting your (complete) application as soon as you can in order to be considered in more rounds!  Please note, we must receive all 3 parts of the application before a submission will be considered complete for evaluation. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure we receive all pieces of the application.

Cutoff Dates for Consideration

All applicants will be updated on their application status in the days following the below cutoff dates. We appreciate your patience as we evaluate applications.

  • Round 1: January 31st
  • Round 2: February 28th
  • Round 3: March 31st