James Xu

2016, Engineering

School & Degree:

University of Toronto, Engineering

High School/Cegep:

Aurora High School

City & Province:

Aurora, Ontario

Nominated by:

Patti Anglin

What undergraduate program are you enrolled?


Engineering Science


What is your favourite inspirational quote?


“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Apple Inc. (then Apple Computer Inc.) television commercial, 1997.


What is a little known fact about you?


Keen to apply knowledge learned in the classroom, I designed and built an electric skateboard: from mechanics, circuitry, to programming control. I customized hardware with CAD software and manufactured them with equipment such as rapid prototyping machine and CNC water jet cutter. I calculated the power and gear ratio I need and ordered parts from hobby stores. I made many upgrades to the board, including emergency kill-switch and remote-control.


Why do you make a great Schulich Leader?


As a Schulich Leader, not only do I strive to attain personal growth, but I also inspire others to achieve excellence. Outside of school, my involvements span from doing research in world-class laboratories to mentoring youth with special needs. For the past four years, I have been volunteering as a ski instructor for Track 3 – a ski association for kids with disabilities. I encourage athletes with physical and/or mental disabilities to experience the fun of snow sports and to challenge their limits. Working with these strong-willed athletes taught me to never underestimate my abilities and not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; my sit-ski student with non-verbal autism inspired me to learn American Sign Language. Despite heavier workload in university, I will continue to be involved at Track 3: after all, my goal as a Schulich leader is not merely self-improvement; but more importantly, to help and give hope to people in need.