Awards recognize trailblazers in technology, finance and the arts
March 28, 2019
With students’ attention span dropping significantly in the digital and social age, what is it going to take to halt the rapid decline?
Education and life strategist Dwayne Matthews may have some of the answers.
He’s the president of NeuroEdX, a division of Nothing Artificial Network that’s powered by Neuro Tracker that emerged out of nearly two decades of neuroscience research to enhance mental performance.
Used by professional sports teams and United States special operations forces to heighten human performance, NeuroEdX is now optimized for schools and organizations to boost learning.
Matthews envisions the platform being an integral part of daily life for schools who believe that their students need to increase their cognitive abilities and mental focus in the age of digital distractions.
Based on over 25 years of neuroscience research, 32 peer-reviewed papers and about 40 ongoing research projects, the NeuroEdX technology taps into emerging neuroplasticity and scientific validation data to help users improve cognitive abilities that matter in the classroom and in life.
Matthews help school boards, educators and parents understand new and evolving themes in the 21st century, the future of work and how to help prepare children to thrive and succeed in a rapidly evolving digital information driven world.
“I realized that most organizations have a very specific path about how they adopt technology,” he said. “It’s either let’s take the technology to do exactly what we are doing or let’s not take the technology at all because we are afraid of it. But it’s very rare that somebody contemplates something new is going to happen. I think that’s the case for education. We have an analog mode of teaching to teach digital children and we aren’t taking a very serious approach to how do we prepare the mind of a child to deal with exponential amounts of information.”
Designed by CogniSens which is a company that emerged out of the neurophysics lab of University of Montreal researcher Dr. Jocelyn Faubert, Neuro Tracker challenges users to track multiple targets moving dynamically in 3D space.
“You essentially have to track four targets out of eight objects,” said Matthews who is a former managing director & spokesperson for Clean 15 which is a leader in open innovation and clean technology proliferation. “It is impossible to track four targets in 3 dimensional space. What you have to do is spread your attention and try to stay focused for six to eight seconds which is incredibly difficult.”
Born in Toronto and raised in Trinidad & Tobago where he spent nearly 14 years, Matthews returned to Canada in 1988 and completed his high school and university education at West Hill Collegiate Institute and Assumption University that’s federated with the University of Windsor.
As a Toronto District School Board elementary teacher for almost eight years, he taught Grades Three to Six. His specific areas of focus were collaborative learning and metacognition as it relates to meaningful connections.
Matthews was also in Peru for two years working at the American International Educational Institute.
After almost a decade teaching, he started a technology transfer company.
“We looked for exponential technologies that would change social paradigms on behalf of Fortune 500 companies,” he said. “After about two years, I returned to my roots which is education and looking at where that’s connected to 21st century technology and how does that technology affect the adoption of education and the proliferation of new paradigms.”
Matthews was recently recognized with a Trailblazer Award at the annual Black Arts & Innovation Exposition (BAIE) that’s the brainchild of Bank of Montreal’s (BMO) chief information officer Claudette McGowan.
He was recognized in the science & technology category.
“The work that Dwayne is doing with NeuroEdX in trying to use modern ways in getting kids to focus and really do better in school and also understand the importance of attention is critical,” said McGowan who is responsible for BMO’s enterprise technology employee experience. “He’s getting into the brain science of how to get the most out of young people which, in my opinion, is quite remarkable.”
Trailblazer Awards were also presented to Deland Kamanga and Kiana ‘Rookz’ Eastmond in the finance and arts categories respectively.
As BMO Capital Markets head of global Fixed Income, Currencies & Commodities (FICC), Kamanga is responsible for the origination, sales and trading of cash and derivatives products, including securitization. The FICC leverages his extensive experience in cross asset structured derivatives, risk management and product innovation to deliver optimal solutions and efficiency for clients.
Kamanga, who has an economics degree from the University of Western Ontario and has been a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder since 1995, joined BMO 13 years ago.
“Deland is probably the only senior person of colour in capital markets in Canada,” said McGowan. “I would say there are very few like him worldwide and he’s deserving of the recognition for being in that space in the financial industry.”
Eastmond, who dropped out of high school in Grade Nine and was homeless at age 14, is the executive director of Manifesto which is one of Canada’s premier contemporary youth arts and culture platforms, producing strategically curated music, visual arts and dance programming.
In 2012, she became the first female professional recording studio owner in the city with the launch of Sandbox that specializes in urban music. She was also part of the first cohort of MaRS Studio Y eight-month program aimed at enhancing leadership and innovation skills of young Ontarians.
“Kiana has been doing really great work with musicians and making a mark in the entertainment industry,” said McGowan.
Scholarships each worth $5,000 were presented to Ryerson University business management program student Hailey McCalla, University of Ottawa medical student Lolade Shipeolu, McMaster University doctoral candidate and teaching assistant Shawn Hercules, Abdul Barra who is at Dalhousie University and Durham College student Diyana Mohamad.
A $10,000 business grant was awarded to Ermias Nagatu who co-founded Wishplay, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that provides virtual reality experiences for children and youth in care.
The York University graduate and Black Health Alliance board member was one of four entrepreneurs that pitched their business idea to a live audience.
In addition, the BAIE raised $10,000 that was presented to Venture Kids, First Book Canada and Nu Step Athletic Association.
Recruiting teams from several major firms attended the career fair that preceded the awards ceremony. They included Google, Facebook, Instagram, Lexmark, BMO, Microsoft, Dream Ventures, Tracker Networks and TekStaff which offered a three-month paid internship.
“The internship created instant buzz and demonstrated real action,” McGowan added.