Young passion meets experience as a trio of teens pitch a new train to Metrolinx brass

Three Mississauga teens with ambition, and what they believe will be the next generation of public transit, face a Dragon’s Den-style session with Metrolinx executives, including CEO Phil Verster.

Here’s the pitch.

Three young transit dreamers in a room with some of the world’s most experienced rail executives and experts.

The clock ticked. And they had 20-minutes to prove their next generation GO train could be the future of transit in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Three young men stand in a board room and share their ideas with a panel of Metrolinx experts.

Three aspiring transit engineers pitch their ideas face-to-face with Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster (photo by Scott Money).

But how did they recently arrive in that downtown Toronto boardroom, deep inside historic Union Station, making the pitch of their young lives?

Adam Diz, Damon Kuarsingh, and Humza Choudhry wrote Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster earlier this summer with their ideas of building a better commuter train. Keep in mind, Verster has been a leader on major rail systems around the globe.

In that initial outreach, the trio of 13-year-olds from David Leeder Middle School in Mississauga, impressed Verster so much, he invited them to face a panel reminiscent of TV’s Dragon’s Den, where ideas are sold to a panel of Canadian business tycoons.

“What struck me most about these kids is they didn’t write in because of some school project or assignment,” said Verster.  “They wrote in with their own free time because they’re passionate about engineering.”

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster looks over designs for a new GO train concept.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster looks over designs for a new GO train concept. (Photo courtesy Scott Money).

The new model of GO train they pitched included technologies that would be foreign to most 13-year-olds, such as regenerative braking, ergonomic design and hydrogen fuel cells.

“We felt that trains and transit design needed a refresh for the next generation,” said Diz.

While the apprentice engineers weren’t thrown entirely to the wolves, or in this case transit dragons, the meeting did include some constructive feedback from Verster – including the role battery power and hydrogen could play in the future of public transit in Ontario.

And the outcome of the pitch session?

Adam Diz, Damon Kuarsingh, and Humza Choudhry stand on a platform at Union Station with Metrolinx staff

Adam Diz, Damon Kuarsingh, and Humza Choudhry tour Union Station with Metrolinx staff (Photo courtesy Scott Money).

The teens said the feedback would help them look at the bigger picture when it comes to engineering and design. In particular, Verster urged them to never stop innovating especially when it comes to the application of technologies like solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells.

Encouragement by Verster that they are on the right track following their engineering dreams, and an invitation to keep working on their train designs – because as in every occupation and business sector, youth and passion fuel change for the future.

Story by: Navi Singh, Metrolinx stakeholder relations coordinator