YOU|create is a seven extracurricular academic month program from October to April. Participants join interdisciplinary teams and collaboratively to solve three challenges that enhance opportunity recognition, problem solving, and value creation skills. The YOU|create participants consult with professional staff that serve as program mentors once a month, receiving advice, guidance, and support to enable successful challenge completion. In between program mentor meetings, teams work independently to solve the challenges.
Challenge 1 – The Value Challenge* (10/23 – 11/15)
The Value Challenge had students evaluate how they define “value” (financial, social, intellectual, service, human, etc.). Teams were given the following goal – To create as much value as possible over the next three weeks. Each team was given a random “seemingly worthless” item as a starting piece of value, and they were expected to use their creativity to build value. The main takeaways I wanted the students to grasp are:
1. Opportunities are abundant –Problems in your own backyard are waiting to be solved, and in solving those problems you create value.
2. Many problems are framed too tightly – Instead of looking at this challenge as “How do I build value with a set of office pens or a binder”, look at the challenge as “What can we do to create value if we start with nothing?”.
Challenge 2 – The Opportunity Challenge (11/15 – 1/20)
In the opportunity challenge, each student team is given a target demographic audience at UConn and is asked to interview multiple people from that audience to identify what the audience thought can be improved at UConn – what opportunities are present.
|Undergraduate Students||Professors & Lecturers||University Administrators||Athletes|
|RAs & Hall Directors||Local Business Owners||Public Safety Officials||Parents|
|Graduate Students||Professional Staff||Student Workers|
Challenge 3 – The Application Challenge (1/20 – 4/8)
In the UConn Challenge, the students brainstorm solutions to the common opportunities they uncovered. After several iterations of idea refinement in their own teams and with their mentor, teams pitch their final idea to a panel of judges and receive seed funding From February through April, teams use the funding to develop their idea into a prototype, website, design, proof of concept, or similar incarnation. In April, teams showcase their innovations to the UConn community at culminating YOU|create event.
*The Value Challenge is modeled after similar program by Professor Tina Seelig of Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program.