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WPI's Student Experience Summer Innovation Challenge

Thursday, July 22, 2021 to Sunday, July 25, 2021

WPI's Student Experience Innovation Challenge

Challenge runs Thursday, July 22nd to Sunday, July 25th

Applications Close:  Monday, July 19th 

WPI is hosting it’s 2nd annual summer innovation challenge. This year’s theme is built around the student experience. We are challenging students to use their creativity, ingenuity, and tenacity to develop innovative solutions that address the most pressing issues related to a student’s educational experience in three major categories 1) health and wellness 2) educational experience and 3) housing and infrastructure for the well-being of our community. The purpose of this challenge is to find new or improved ways to provide a high-quality and rewarding college experience.

Join us for a few days of developing solutions that will help improve student’s life with the opportunity to win prizes ranging from $350 to $650 in Goat Bucks. We can't guarantee that WPI Summer Innovation challenge solutions will be implemented, but the student input is incredibly valuable in developing a deeper understanding of our students’ needs. We hope that you’ll join us in our mission, and we look forward to learning about all your projects and ideas.

This four day event will encompass a team matching networking event and skill building workshops leading into the challenge submission followed by a winner announcement virtual celebration.

NOTE: You do not need a team to apply. Our intro session will include a speed networking activity to assist in finding a team*. Team size can range from 2-4 students.

There will be three tracks to the Student Experience Challenge—choose the one that best matches your interests:

1. Health & Wellness: How could you improve your health and wellness, or the health and wellness of other students? Submissions can focus on both mental and physical health, including sleep/wake cycle, management of stress, anxiety, and depression, staying hydrated and fed, exercising both mind and body, and any way you can find to help students live happier, healthier lives while they pursue education.

2. Housing & Infrastructure: How could you improve your experience or the experience of future students with student housing, school buildings, or transportation? Submissions could include improvements to academic buildings, from how we navigate halls class to class to the way classrooms are laid out, to the design of common study spaces. Innovations can also tackle living and eating quarters, including dorms, cafeterias, dining halls, and apartments. Transportation could be getting around Worcester as a student without a car.

3. Educational Experience: How could you improve the learning experience in the classroom or virtual learning? Submission could focus on designing curriculums or new and interesting ways to integrate a variety of learning experiences. Think about the technology we use while learning, such as laptops, lab equipment, and software like learning management systems (Canvas). Innovations could also look to improve the process of activities we do in order to learn, such as how we take notes, how we research to write a paper, how we watch lectures, read books, or work on projects.

A general note: As you work together in your teams, you may realize that various ideas can only come to a certain degree of completion during our weekend long competition. If you have a physical prototype by the end, that’s great! If not, but you have a great concept with research and planning to back it, that’s completely fair game! Just flesh your idea out as much as possible within the time constraints, we don’t expect your renovation of a building to physically happen overnight. Graphical mockups, writing, software demos, and CAD designs can all be helpful in communicating the value of an innovation.


Applications Open:  Wednesday, June 23rd 

Applications Close:  Monday, July 19th 





First Place:        $650 in Goat Bucks/ per category

Second Place:    $350 in Goat Bucks/ per category 


Innovation Challenge Workshop Schedule:

DAY 1 – Thursday, July 22nd 

Time: 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm 

Workshop Name:

  • Introduction to challenge & Team Matching Speed Networking Event

Workshop Facilitators:

  • Curtis Abel - Executive Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Workshop Description:

  • Brief overview of the challenge, review of the judging criteria and Q&A.

  • Opportunity for students who do not have a team to participate in a speed networking activity to be matched with students that have common interests and compatibilities (Optional).


DAY 2 – Friday, July 23rd

Time: 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm 

Workshop Name: 

  • Design Thinking Workshop

Workshop Facilitator:  

  • Joe Doiron - Assistant Teaching Professor, Interdisciplinary & Global Studies, Director, United Arab Emirates Project Center, Co-Director, Namibia Project Center, Co-Director, Foisie Sandbox, Co-Director, Center for Global Public Safety (CGPS)

Workshop Description:  

  • Design Thinking stresses the importance of cultivating empathy for end users, interpreting and framing problems they experience, creative solution generation, and continuous prototyping and testing. Embedded within Design Thinking is the assumption that we must think “outside ourselves.” Great design doesn’t happen within the four walls of a studio or office. It happens in the real world.

Why is it important?

  • In increasingly complex times, innovation and collaboration skills are becoming vital to businesses, and both principles are essential in Design Thinking. This hands-on workshop will lead you through the design thinking process and will explore how human-centered design can help develop innovative solutions for the complex challenges we face as businesspeople, non-profit leaders, entrepreneurs, and global citizens.

DAY 3 – Saturday, July 24th

Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Workshop Name: 

  • Value Creation Workshop

Workshop Facilitator:  

  • Leonard Polizzotto - WPI Distinguished Executive-in-Residence

Workshop Description:  

  • Value creation is the process of creating solutions for unmet societal needs that provide more value to customers than any alternative and that satisfy all stakeholders. Value creation is how innovations are developed.

Why It's Important:

  • The world’s challenges will only be solved by passionate professionals with essential technical, human, and value creation skills. Value creation is the process for how to make a positive impact on the world.

What You Will Learn:

  • You will learn how to: identify problems that matter, assemble and work in productive teams, give and receive feedback, convincingly present the value of your initiative, and develop action plans for moving forward.

Other Notes:

  • All workshops will be recorded and made available to those who are not able to attend. 
  • Team working day on your solution.
  • You will have access to resources to assist with developing your presentation and bringing it to life.
  • Additional video resources on selected topics will be made available at this time.


DAY 4 – Sunday, July 25th

Time: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Workshop Name:

  • Mentors Office Hours

Workshop Description:

  • Mentors hours will be available to book online for project feedback. 

  •  Team working day on your solution.

  • Submissions of your team’s 5-minute presentation video is due by 11:59 pm.

  • Judging will take place between July 28th - August 11th. 

  • Top 2 winning teams from each category will be announced in a virtual (via Zoom) celebration, TBD.

Registration Deadline:
Friday, July 16, 2021 11:59 pm
Jasmine Jones