Facilitating the Global Grand Challenges Student Day

Royal Academy of Engineering, Microsoft Global Grand Challenges Summit, Think Up

Spiral staircase at the Royal Academy Engineering, taken on the morning of the Microsoft Global Grand Challenges Summit

Today Think Up facilitated the Global Grand Challenges Student Day at the Royal Academy of Engineering. The student day is a prelude to the main Global Grand Challenges Summit which starts tomorrow. Our brief for designing the event was to choreograph a day of activities in which students from engineering universities around the world would come together and collaborate to develop a solution to six of the Global Grand Challenges. Our response was a programme that sought to unpick the creative process, and to enable students to examine what skills they need to develop to be better designers, all in the context of solving a major societal challenge.

One of the features that I particularly liked about today’s session was a set of take-away cards that summarise the creative process for engineers. These are based on the thinking that underpins Think Up’s work on creative design. I hope in due course these can be made available online, perhaps from the Expedition Workshed website.

A day like today’s is intended to be an intense experience for students – and it is intense for the facilitators as well. You never know at a one-off event exactly how a group of students is going to react to the stimuli you provide them with. It’s the job of the facilitators to tweak things as we go. Indeed some of the best moments can be the unplanned activities that happen along the way. For us as designers of events themed around creativity and engineering, this is another iteration in an on-going process of understanding how best to teach design to engineering students. We have gathered masses of feedback and this will give us plenty of food for thought for designing the next event. In the meantime I will let the dust settle before posting more thoughts on facilitating design workshops.