ST. PAUL – Khurram Abbasi stands tall with his daughter, Fatima, as both admire the UFO Landing Pad in the Town of St. Paul.
“Me and my kids moved here a month ago,” says Khurram. “My wife came before that. She has been here for about three months.” Khurram is the husband of a new physician based in the town.
Khurram has a passion for science and technology – a passion that his two daughters share with him. The St. Paul newcomer has a vast experience in the technology industry, along with a Bachelor of Science from York University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Bradford University School of Management. He also works as Management Team Lead with Alberta Health Services.
But in his spare time, he hopes to share his experience and passion for technology with youth and seniors in St. Paul.
“We connect the seniors, we bring them technology, and we create a support system that is backed up by our youth to provide that support to seniors,” he explained. “Now, it's like a technical support company – but this is non-profit work.”
To kickstart his idea, Khurram started a group on social media called St. Paul and District STEM and STEAM (STEM). STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, while STEAM stands for the same with the addition of the ‘A’ which stands for “art.” He aims to register the group as a non-profit in the future.
An important component of the support group is keeping seniors safe online.
“The most important part is how you actually can avoid scams – our kids are getting better at avoiding scams than us,” said Khurram, in reference to the dangers of online scams. He said many seniors, like his parents, have become skeptical with technology as they grow older due to dangers associated with technology. However, Khurram said there are ways to protect yourself.
On the flip side, seniors can also share their knowledge with youth. Khurram says he has noticed how some seniors in the community having a plethora of experience in farming and other fields, which they can share with the youth, stating, “I’m talking about something really cutting edge like regenerative farming – like how we can save our crops or extend their life?”
Khurram believes the exchange of knowledge between youth and seniors in science, engineering, and technology will provide mutual benefits and growth.
If his idea is realized, youth can also experience working with cutting edge tools and not just social media, as he plans to create technological projects for the community.
“The idea is to have our kids who are in schools, in alternative learning, or home-based learning, get started on projects that can benefit our own local community,” said Khurram. “Science is here to solve problems in the world, right?”
Among the missions of St. Paul and District STEM and STEAM include winning awards at the Canada Wide Science Fair 2023 and to provide IT and technology services in St. Paul.
Khurram is also the founder of a non-profit in Calgary called Think for Actions – a group that creates professional opportunities for youth and young adults. Among the non-profit’s visions is the development of a “think tank of researchers, intellectuals, and scholars,” according to their website.
He said the non-profit group connects professionals like doctors, engineers, and lawyers to provide volunteer opportunities, which builds experience for the youth that they can include on their resumes.
Khurram plans to do the same in St. Paul. “Our seniors and our youth are the most vulnerable and anything that I think you can do to give back to them - you're building your future and you're capitalizing on your past,” he said.
Outside his work, Khurram is interested in exploring St. Paul. “I love the lakes with the sands here, it’s very beautiful and very relaxing.”
He also tries to be involved in the same things his kids are interested in.
“If they’re playing Minecraft, I’m going to play Minecraft. If they’re doing swimming, I’ll learn swimming, whatever, right?” he said. “It’s being there for your kids while having fun.”
Khurram said he is also a foodie, but Fatima, 10, smirks and says her father “is not a good cook.”
Teasing aside, Fatima says she feels like “the luckiest person in the world, because I think not everyone gets to hang out with their dad that much – it’s the opposite for me.” Fatima is also very interested in technology, working on an automated self-driving car system herself.
Khurram believes there are other children in the community who are just as talented and passionate.
“If you have that passion, you're not alone. Let's get together and let's build something for the community and have fun while doing it,” he says.