Innovation Workshop 2016 – first week recap

One of Skoltech’s trademarks is the Innovation Workshop (IW) – a hands-on experience that you would not find in any other University in Russia. Now, at the end of the first week, it’s a good time to check what have the new students done so far.

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After some general explanations about the workshop, and time for questions, the students dived into three days of Quick Success classes. Traditionally, this is the first thing students do within IW. They were divided to groups, allocated in random order regardless their background and educational track. The groups participated in turns, in classes that varied from “Re-inventing PCR technology”, through “DIY Solar Collector”, “Robot Control and Design”, “Space applications for entrepreneurship and innovation” to “Hacking Cruise Control on Electric Bicycles”. The courses were taught by Skoltech professors, alumni start-uppers, partners (GUAP INTEL, MSU) and MIT Professor.

The idea behind the “Quick” in Quick Success is that the students only have 6 hours to dive into a problem they may know nothing about and come with a solution. Never do they get 100% of information and an algorithm, so they have to share competences, identify the piece of information they lack, manage to find it by any means and apply it, in order to succeed. Naturally, different groups come to a successful solution through very different paths and tactics. The idea behind the “Success” in Quick Success is that at the end of these 6 hours, they have accomplished a task, often with little prior knowledge and experience in it. That gives the students confidence and a feeling of capability, and they themselves are very excited.

The learning objectives of this part of IW are teamwork, ability to acquire knowledge that is needed and when necessary, project management skills, not being afraid and believing in themselves. In addition, this is a good opportunity for the students to learn about their professors and their research field a little.

And what do the students themselves say? “it was intense, sometimes I felt like going to work, but it was fun”, says Pavel Tolmachev, MSU physics bachelor, and now an IT track student, “I have gained a lot of knowledge in these areas that I haven’t touched before. For example, this biology class – I’m not a biologist of course – gave me a chance to try it with my own hands, I saw the whole process and now I can definitely say that I have real participation in biological things like PCR. For me this is very interesting and I want to get updated in all these fields. In addition, it is good because it helps not to be afraid of doing something that I been connected to. It can eliminate the fear from uncertainty”.

“This is the start of something new in my life, and I would like that the whole year would be like this week”, adds Maria Karelskaya, a Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas bachelor, now an energy student “it was much fun, because I never did such things before this week, maybe in the selection weekend. There were many events, many important lectures and a lot of information, so this was a very intensive week. Now I feel a bit exhausted, but still I think this is the most important week for me”.

The students will now go home for the weekend in order to regain energy for next week, which will not be less intensive. After all, “squeezing four MIT courses into one month” as Ilia Dubinsky, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said, is not a walk in the park.