Teen inventor wins scholarship at Calgary immigrant awards: ‘She never gives up’

Claire Du noticed a problem whenever she showed up for training sessions at her rhythmic gymnastics club in Calgary.

“It was really difficult to lift the carpets,” Du said.

So, she got to work designing and building a device to transport the carpets, which are used as a surface on which the gymnasts practice their routines.

“I just call it a carpet lifting machine,” Du said. “It has these two flaps on the side to support the middle of the carpet, (with) two really big wheels on the back (to make) it easier on your back.”

The 16-year-old grade 11 student then took it along as her entry in a city-wide school science fair.

“I won an award for it,” Du said. “And I got to represent Alberta at the Canada-wide science fair.”

It’s the kind of success that’s earned her a youth scholarship award at the 2019 Immigrants of Distinction Awards, an event run by Immigrant Services Calgary.

“This award, I’m really, really grateful for it,” Du said.

Born in China, Du has thrived since coming to Canada, with her love of inventing things starting in elementary school.

“Building robots in a team and doing competitions with robots,” Du said. “I’m really passionate about artificial intelligence.”

It’s a passion she’s also pursuing while spending time as an intern at the University of Calgary.

“(At) a lab where they do robotic surgery and they’re building a little mount for an ultrasound arm,” Du said. “Super cool and super exciting!”

Her parents are amazed at how much their daughter is accomplishing.

“I think one of the major reasons is (that) Canada offered her so (many) learning opportunities and growth opportunities,” Claire’s mother Rachel Du said. “She works hard, she never gives up. I’m so proud.”

Du is planning on putting her $1,000 scholarship award toward university, but she’s not sure yet what field she might go into.

“I’m thinking of being an entrepreneur,” Du said.

Wherever her studies may lead, Du’s in no hurry to leave the city that’s given her so much.

“Calgary is definitely a hub for innovation and technology,” Du said. “Our technology industry is going to be crazy amazing and fantastic in the future!”

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