Learning by doing: Skoltech students focus on their Innovation Workshop projects



Photo: Timur Sabirov / Skoltech


 With 2018 Innovation Workshop at the midway point, the attention of Skoltech’s incoming students is now on the projects that will be developed and refined during the next two weeks.

Teamed up with other graduates with various areas of expertise and from countries around the globe, the students are tasked with developing projects that respond to real-world problems – learning about entrepreneurship, teamwork across industries, and success in the process.

The initial weeks’ activity served as an introduction to Skoltech and its culture, reinforced by workshop exercises that prepared students for the upcoming intense work on their own projects. Following the initial teamwork phase, the first innovation project iterations were required to be presented to Skoltech professors and invited international mentors – after which the students are to refine the project prototypes.

The goal of these projects is to capture the imagination of students with the spirit of innovation and to give them a set of skills for future success in innovation and entrepreneurship in technology. They also will gain practice in developing their own creative ideas – sometimes outside of their area of expertise – into something useful.

As Dmitry Kulish, Professor of Practice at Skoltech’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (and Director of this year’s Innovation Workshop), explained, “The students need to answer important questions about the subject of their projects: Who needs this? There is an end user with a problem, and do you have a solution to that problem?”

Working in teams, the students are expected to reach the potential end users or stakeholders –making contact with companies, organizations or groups to obtain real-world input, following by a phase of refining the project.

Kulish noted that students are encouraged to create proposals that are aligned with the input provided earlier by Skoltech professors and researchers across the institute’s Centers for Research, Education and Innovation (CREIs) – who scoped out more than 30 project activities. “We want the students to come with serious ideas…something more worthwhile than a social dating app, for example,” he added.


Innovation Workshop students collaborate in groups and benefit from the expertise of Skoltech professors, as well as invited international mentors. Photo: Timur Sabirov / Skoltech

Students are given a limited amount of time to collaborate on their projects. As can be expected, the first versions – presented a few days after work begins – may be far from perfect. As mentors explain, this is meant to teach students to fail and learn from their mistakes.

Kulish, in quoting Professor Luis Perez Breva, PhD (an expert in the process of technology innovation, an entrepreneur, author and director of the MIT Innovation Teams Program), added: “The progress is in learning. Start with what you have now, make a scientific experiment, and learn. The faster you find out you where and how you are wrong, the more time and resources you will have for the next try.”

By the end of the month, students will have worked on eight learning activities and will be assessed on one of them in terms of grading: the innovation project. As Kelvin Willoughby, Professor of Innovation and Intellectual Property at Skoltech’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, explained, the other seven assignments (among which are English-language exercises, elevator pitches, leadership seminars, and a series of Quick Success sessions), “give students the power, the skills and attitudes necessary to perform well in the innovation project.”

More details on the 2018 Innovation Workshop are available in the previous stories:


Contact information:
Skoltech Communications
+7 (495) 280 14 81

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