Universidad Católica del Uruguay Student Priorities

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STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE I&E ECOSYSTEM (2019)

Strategy #1 - Boosting communication via webasignatura.

After interviewing various students, we felt that there was a lack of effective communication. The courses were already created, but students were not aware of their existence. So the first step was already taken, now we want students to acknowledge the opportunities that are available to them. UCU currently sends emails in order to notify students that there is a workshop or a course, however due to the amount of activities there are, and the channel that is currently being implemented, it is not effective, and frequently sent automatically to spam. 

Our challenge:

How might we communicate effectively to the students community the variety of vacant activities to develop innovation and entrepreneurship skills?

The first thing we noticed, is that there is an unused space on the university's login webpage  that can be exploited to solve our challenge. The space in question is approximately 70% of the login page to the university's servers. So the idea is to employ that area that is necessarily seen by students, to communicate the different activities.

Adjacent to the login interface, there will be an advertisement of different aspects. Firstly, before the beginning of classes, the login will show the subjetcs related to I&E the course of event of the week. Just below that, the name of the activity and a short description of what is about, will be placed. However, after students have already chosen the subjets of the semester, the page will include activities, lectures, programs, and scholarships related to the topic previously mentioned. Theregion will also have a calendar, that enumerates the upcoming events, being a constant reminder of new activities. 

We, fellow candidate will be responsible for designing the website, keeping it updated, encouraging students to pay attention to it, and make the link between the students that produce the clip and the referent of that activity.

Not only that, but the group wants to go beyong what is established, and wants the webasignatura to suggest other courses that might be of interest to the student based on previous searches with a combo of courses with timetables already arranged.

We will follow the incoming steps:

  • Step #1: Schedule a meeting with the Dean  (Julio Techera) to ask for approval, with a referent of Centro Ignis, to ask if the project is possible (Natalia Espasandin), and with someone of IT, that manages the website.

  • Step #2:  Investigate all the courses, workshops, open sessions and competitions related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • Step #3: Make a team of Computer Science students to create the adjustments  to the website.

Strategy #2 - One day networking event between students and teachers.

While analyzing the Landscape Canvas completed in Session 3, the team realized that although there are a bunch of resources regarding “Mentoring, advisory or business networks”, Ithaka is the only centre that provides this service inside the university. Also, Ithaka encourages entrepreneurs with start up ideas and helps them in the validation and the process of creating it. 

But what happens with students that have interests and ideas that do not necessarily match with beginning a startup or a business plan? 

Our challenge:

How can we provide students the possibility to contact teachers related to the topic they are needing help with?

In order to describe the project, we´ll give an example. Imagine Pedro, who is a Business Administration student interested in finances. Although he is still studying his degree and with a lot more to learn, he is interested in the stock market and has a lot of doubts. 

We, fellow students, don't want Pedro to have those inquiries for such a long time, when there are a lot of students and teachers who can help him by having a chat or work on an idea together.

How will this networking process work? 

  1. We will talk to different teachers who are willing to go to our networking event.

  2. We will invite Pedro and other students who showed interest in contacting with a graduate student or teacher who knows about a certain topic.

  3. When all students and teachers are at the event, we will do some activities to get to know each other and chat about our interests.

  4. We could end the networking meeting with a group challenge or an unconference.

The idea is not only to get to know students and teachers but to work with them. After this, all students will have some contact with the teachers that were present and they will be able to interact with them whenever they have a doubt.

We will follow the incoming steps: 

  • Step #1:Talk with Student Affairs and Íthaka in order to co-organize the event.
  • Step #2:Interviews with students and teachers to see who is willing to go to our networking event.
  • Step #3: Determine the place and date of the networking event.
  • Step #4:  Elaborate a strong communication strategy to get to as many people as we can from UCU´s environment. 

Strategy #3: OPITI Investigation

After analyzing the landscape Canvas and by doing extensive research among students, we identified that there ́s a lack of content and investigations done by the university. Also, students are not motivated to do research about topics that they are interested with. 

Our challenge: 

How can we motivate students to make their own research and the creation of content related to I&E? 


We came up with the idea that if a student wants to make research related to innovation, can also have the possibility to participate for credits.

OPITI (Opportunities to Incentivate Tremendous Ideas) can be held from March until July, and in that period of time, students interested in developing content that matches to the bases and conditions of the program, can investigate and have an advisor while doing the investigation.

When the deadline finishes (first week of July), students have to handle their investigation, and the assigned jury will have to correct the work done by the student.

Who are our allies? Academic Programs Department, Student Affairs Department, Investigation and Innovation Department, ÍthaKa Center.

We will follow the incoming steps:

  • Step #1: Schedule a meeting with the Dean (Julio Fernández Techera), Vice Dean of Research and Innovation (Daniel Perciante), Centro Ithaka's Director (Magdalena Giuria), Education Department Director (Ana Laura Palombo) and Professor ́s Director (Lorena Estefanell) to ask if the program ́s realization is possible and afterwards coordinate the following steps.

  • Step #2: Structure a list of “compulsory” items that need to be part of the research.

  • Step #3: Develop bases and conditions for OPITI´s program.

  • Step #4: Designate teachers who will be advisor and mentors of the projects.

  • Step #5: Designate faculty members of the juty, to determine if research follows the correct criteria.

  • Step #6: Inform the students about the possibility of participating in the program.

Strategy #4: Entrepreneurs Club in Campus Montevideo.

While finishing week 4 of University Innovation Fellows training, after doing deep research of the university ecosystem, we identified that our team of prefellows was working and developing ideas that tried to satisfy everyone´s needs, rather than working and enhancing with the few people characterized as being change agents.

We know for sure that if this one is enhanced, relationships between all the stakeholders will be long lasting and in return will create a better academic environment. 


Our challenge: 

How might we broaden the quantity of students commited with UCU and activities related to I&E?

The idea is to gather change agents (Fellows, PreFellows, student leaders, students that participated in I&E events) and create a Club that promotes and encourage social interactions between them. A really good aspect to point out, is that there is already an existing Entrepreneurs Club in Campus Punta del Este.

So after talking with the organizers of Punta del Este´s Club, we agreed that in order to strengthen links between campus, we purpose the creation of the club that allows them to gather to talk about development ideas on UCU, participate on UCU events, help with communicating existing and next activities and projects, brainstorming about opportunities to develop and enhance, etc.

Activities held by the club will vary depending on the needs of the students participating, and will help to encourage students sense of belonging with UCU, because their actions will be leaving a lasting footprint in the rest of UCU community.


We will follow the incoming steps: 

  • Step #1:Schedule a meeting with Punta del Este Entrepreneurs Club and coordinate the following steps.
  • Step #2: Create a team of students (fellows and prefellows) that will organize the group.
  • Step #3:Establish objectives and priorities of the Club.
  • Step #4: Spread the word through campus and multiplicate the quantity of students participating in the club. with teachers from different departments in order to determine which would be the best topics to base on.

STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE I&E ECOSYSTEM (2018)

Stategy #1: Transform the "Co-Work" into a makerspace

Malena and Agustina will lead this project.

After analyzing the landscape canvas, we identified that our university doesn’t have a physical place for the innovation ecosystem.

Our challenge:

How may we create a place exclusively for the innovation ecosystem where I&E is stimulated and encouraged?

Our objective, is to redesign the cowork space so that it becomes a common place to innovate and undertake. In this way we can centralize the I&E in one spot and establish its concept within the university. This co-work would facilitate the promotion of different I&E-related activities and the collaboration among people who are interested in different projects.

Even though this physical place already exists, it isn’t used as a place to collaborate, socialize and stimulate innovation.Instead, most students just go there to study individually for exams. So, how do we change the way in which students use the co-work of Santander?

Our conclusion was that we need a change of approach or, in other words, we should change the way people perceive this place and its purpose. In order to do that,  we are going to promote the Co-work as a place where students can go and start a project, a place to become an entrepreneur and innovator. We want to generate an integrated network in which people can share their knowledge and help each other.

Secondly, we will provide a large variety of materials, both stationery materials such as blackboards, markers, post-it’s, legos and technological devices such as computers, projector, and a lot of plugs (which are really necessary).

We also want to redesign the walls, creating in these areas opportunities to interact with each other.   

1) A brainstorming wall, in which people can write questions, leave messages, ask for advice, etc.

2) A “linking board” in which people can write their name, career, what they can give others (in terms of knowledge), if they need help in a project, and a contact number.

  • Step #1: Talk to Magdalena Giuria, Íthaka’s director, to find out the relation between Santander Bank and the university so as to identify the person in charge of the Co-work.
  • Step #2: Speak with the responsible of the Co-work, show him the prototype and ask him for approval.
  • Step #3: Quote a price for the redesign of the co-work.
  • Step #4: Ask Íthaka and/or Students Affairs for financial support. Negotiate and adapt budget.
  • Step #5: Purchase the items and arrange them in the Co-work.
  • Step #6: Come up with ideas for the promotion of the new space.

Strategy #2: Organizing exisiting I&E activities -Passport to Ithaka-

Maite and Brian will lead this project.

We feel as there is a lack of connection between Íthaka’s mentoring of the project and the process that occurs before it. In other words, we believe that there isn’t enough information on what a student initially needs to do if he/she wants to “emprender”.  íthaka’s mentoring of the project is excellent for a more advanced stage but not for the initial stage. Moreover, UCU offers very good workshops, courses and speeches but there isn’t a common thread that leads the students through all of these.

Our challenge:

How may we link or connect the different I&E activities and offer a more guided process?

The idea is to create a guide for students who want to get involved in the I&E ecosystem but don’t really know how. The guide, called Passport to Íthaka, would present all the I&E activities in which they can participate. These would be organized according to the experience required in “Baby steps activities” and “Nurturing stage activities”. The last-stage activities would be based on the knowledge acquired in the first-stage activities and would have as a final objective the presentation of an innovative idea to Íthaka. The “Passport to Íthaka” would be a website in which students could see all the activities together with theirs descriptions, reviews and dates.

It should be noted that we, the candidates to fellows, would be incharge of keeping up to date, promoting and creating the activities.

  • Step #1: Schedule a meeting with Students Affairs (Martín Pérez) and Íthaka (Magdalena Giuria) to ask for approval.
  • Step #2: Look through all the activities of the UCU and organize them in: “Baby steps activities” and “Nurturing Stage activities”.
  • Step #3: Make a team of advanced Computer Science students to design the website.

Strategy #3: Cross-curricular subject ”Innovate in Your major”

Josefina and Paola will lead this project.

We detected that students are not interested in innovation neither in entrepreneurship.

Our challenge:

How to improve the lack of innovative spirit in the curricular?

The idea is to create an 8 week free-choice elective for all the careers, in order to teach I&E skills through practice and testimonies, and to show students that it’s possible to think of an idea and make it real . Th subject will promote interdisiplinar works, being the first subject which integrates students from every major in one class.

Two professors would teach this subject: one of them would be an I&E professional and the other one would be a different hands-on entrepreneur every week. Each week will focus in a particular area, so that it touches most of the diverse interests of the students.

This course would also include  a project during the last four weeks so that students can learn in a practical way.

  • Step #1: Investigate about MEC (Ministry of education and culture) requirements to implement a new subject.
  • Step #2: Talk with Mónica Arzuaga (vice rector of academic programs) to obtain support and endorse the proposal.
  • Step #3: Determine subject formalities. This includes subject duration, teachers and schedule.
  • Step #4: Organize a meeting inviting Career coordinators, Deans, and Monica Arzuaga to explain how the subject works and its objectives.
  • Step #5: Promote the subject between students exhausting every communication resource.   


Strategy #4: After class Friday meetings

Malena and Brian will lead this project

One of the main problems that we identified is that students don’t feel attracted to participate and engage in the I&E environment.

Our challenge:

How may we encourage first-year students to notice and take advantage of the I&E ecosystem?

Weakly after-class reunions will be our solution.  Students can have dinner and interact with each other through games and challenges related to innovation and creativity.

The dynamics and techniques involved would vary throughout the two first months of every semester. The idea is to promote creativity and lateral thinking through out games, challenges, and other dynamics that will encourage the idea of an innovative community.

Also, differents teachers and students interested in sharing their experiences would be present, answering questions and giving advice.

  • Step #1: Organice a meeting with Magdalena Giuria, Director of Íthaka to get to know some resources needed to innovate and the best ways to promote them.
  • Step #2: Develop a detail plan abuot the meetings, including objectives, activities planned with the information provided by íthaka and personal resources.
  • Step #3: Empatize with first year students to design and define the best way to promote the activity in a creative and effective way.
  • Step #4: Organice a meeting with Martín Pérez, Director of Students Affairs, to present the proyect and endorse the proposal.




STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE I&E ECOSYSTEM (2017)

Strategic #1: Launch an I&E Fair

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cca4cGx90PE&feature=youtu.be

One of the opportunities we found at our campus was the lack of I&E culture among students and staff, regarding what it is and what the university has. In response to this, we worked on developing a 3 days long I&E Fair. The fair itself counts on three big sectors:

Starting with who has no clue of this and what is going on at the university, at “Discover and Learn” will be shown all the courses and activities regarding I&E that the university has to offer. Each one with their own stand, and someone to assist who approaches. (“Look all the cool things you can do and learn!”)

For those who already have an idea, but are a little scared on working on it, “Inspiration” stands will show different projects, at different stages, that are being carried out by students, graduates or staff. Some of them giving the possibility for people to join the team if it’s needed. (“We are doing it, so you can do it too!”)

And having in mind the ones who already are thinking of starting with their project, “Support” will have different incubators and support funding stands to bring them closer to a support system, and show them where they can develop their ideas. (“Now if you have a project, we can help you.”)

Every stand must have a playful and interactive side to be more attractive for those whose interest is yet to be awaken. As well as a diversity of disciplines among projects’, and curses’ stands, so everyone can find something interesting for them.

The fair will also have a Collaborative Project Stand, where people can do something (like a drawing for example) that the project needs in order to help them. An Ideas! Wall will also be found, where a problem is proposed (regarding the university) and whoever wants can come up with a solution and add it on a post it note. Likewise, Canti and feedback walls will be held.

At the same time, a cycle of talks will be held on some particular moments. It will count with an inspirational keynote speaker, and some smaller talks that give attendants tools and skills regarding I&E.

The fair itself, along with the talks, will catch people attention by it’s infrastructure (a big tent, music, colour lights…) and the place where they are made. That way, students and staff getting the info about the fair won’t be a major problem.  

  • Select the best date.

Define the curses and activities most relevant for the fair’s Discover and Learn stands.

  • Define the projects that will be shown.
  • Define the speakers and talks.
  • Identify the collaborative project.
  • Find a sponsor cowork (or more than one).
  • Talk with all of them.


Strategic #2:Project-based service learning

Three of the five problems we found on our university that could be identified were the lack of I & E mindset, the university don't teach how to be entrepreneurs but to be employees, and the lack of work between faculties. So, when coming up with ideas and prototyping we get one project that involves a mix of these three problems.

This prototype involves service learning courses where students from all careers create projects to provide better life quality to neighborhoods or villages in vulnerable contexts.

To do this they must learn theory and apply the knowledge from a work of solidarity in a real context, depending on the needs of the community. Its purpose is that the learned contribute to an effective solidarity service. To explain this idea, I base myself on a book called “Manual para docentes y estudiantes solidarios ("Manual for solidarity teachers and students"). Which gave me tools to understand what this type of learning is all about and give my prototype a name.

With this project it is intended that students have a theoretical basis but also apply it to reality in a project that has continuity, that is not deserted and that gives a contribution and real impact for the community.

Therefore, to carry it out, we also need the support of companies that act as sponsors, thereby, it will be possible to obtain resources that without them we would not be able to obtain and therefore the initiation would be deserted since it would not be possible to carry it out in the proper way and have the desired impact.

In addition, the university should provide a physical space for students develop and work on their ideas, for example a co-work. And, provide the theoretical framework and in turn provide tutors to guide the students in the idea, as well as technical assistance from experts such as lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc.

This must necessarily be interdisciplinary, so students of all careers connect and contribute each from their knowledge and discipline. This allows, therefore, that the problem we identified that the university does not work together with all the faculties can be solved as the frame of all this must be from the university and not a specific subject or faculty so that all the university will work together to carry this out, on the other hand, the assistance that is provided to students in their projects comes from different disciplines.

The benefits from the student side is that their academic ability will improve because they will be able to apply what has been learned and become involved with reality, having to think about solutions that improve the quality of people’s life, which also contributes to social awareness and sensitivity.

On the other hand, in terms of E&I, students will be able to be innovative in their solutions and also to create projects that contribute to the purpose of the project, to be creative, to interact with different profiles and the educational community.

From the point of view of companies, being sponsors, will benefit from a marketing strategy, and have contributed to a social project for the benefit of the community improve their position and the image society have about them. Also, to link with the educational community.

And for the benefits from the University, it creates a link with companies, improve the training and capacity of their students, interaction between different faculties, and generates and promotes the I & E culture throughout the university.

  • Define in which institutional framework this course will be developed (If it depends on a vice rectory, department, etc.)
  • Have a bag of companies with which a link is generated and with which they will work as sponsors for the projects.
  • Define the duration time of the course.
  • Define Who dictates the course.
  • Convincing the authorities (vice-rectory, departments, teachers, depending on what frame is made)
  • Define how to find and define the social problems to attend.
  • It defines who will be intermediary between the university and companies, and university-community.
  • Designate a physical space to develop students' ideas.
  • Designate tutors.
  • Define in which academic year it will take place.

Strategic #3:Foster Multidisciplinary work based on the concept “Time Bank” -Canti Cowork

Create a web platform in which students and graduates search for some particular skills for a specific problem they are having. Students or graduates who are interested in solving these problems, can accept the work and contact each other. Based on the concept of "Time Bank", that is a system of social relationship in which time is exchanged for time. On other words, the currency would be the time but in my case the exchange is a service (specific problem of the student / graduated) by time (hours). The accounting of working hours will be handled by a coordinator at Cowork who will be responsible for administrating the working hours of each student who decides to provide a service.

Example of case: A student (Carlos) from Business Administration, needs to create a logo for his / her entrepreneurship. He doesn’t know the tools of Photoshop and Illustrator to design a logo, therefore it will resort to CANTI and will post its specific problem. He will write his name, career, cell phone number and the skills required to solve the problem. Manuel from Communication saw the post and as he met with the requirements, he contacted Carlos and decided to help him. The work Manuel lasted 3 hours. When he finished, he went to Cowork and counted his working hours to the coordinator.


Benefit from Canti:

The hours accumulated by the students can be exchanged in courses, workshops of your choice and credits.

Positive Characteristics:

-It will promote social relations within the Universidad Católica del Uruguay.

-It will create a meeting platform where people will meet and exchange knowledge, skills and experiences covering needs for help and learning.

-Strengthens cooperation and intercultural coexistence by promoting knowledge, interaction and mutual respect.


Justification:

Universidad Católica del Uruguay has 7 faculties with 35 degrees. There is so much knowledge and variety within the University that I want to promote and advance the crosses between the degrees, through multidisciplinary work.

  • Convincing the authorities (vice-rectorate, departments ) so as to implement the benefits of Canti. Have to get through bureaucracy.
  • Have a web designer make the landing page
  • Designate coordinator
  • Set up a launching date
  • Make noise and publicity about the Canti Cowork
  • Talk with students and encourage them to bring problems  so as to start creating work.


Strategic #4:Mentors community

Even though we identified as a problem the lack of I&E culture or mindset, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that our students in general have that desire that motivates them to improve and to create. There was the missing part of where to dump and express all that creativity. Taking into account all that, we saw the opportunity and came with this prototype of a Community of advanced students (or even recently graduated ones) who can mentor those that don’t necessarily have their entrepreneurial ideas polished enough or need some kind of guidance.
With the help of a council, the community assigns the best mentor for that particular student, so, for example, if the student comes with an idea somewhat around the developing of an app that helps you keep track of the amount of paper you have being waisting and help you reduce it, the council will select a mentor that fits the idea and the student best. In this case, maybe a graduated student of computer engineering with a small app developing company on the making.
The council is also responsible of teaching and providing the tools for the mentors to become better at their jobs. Build the competences needed to mentor, to guide, to lead, and most important, to motivate the student to keep working and developing their ideas.
This whole idea will not only benefit the student but also the mentor. Getting some kind of incentive for their work, the creditable experience of being a mentor of a project, the knowledge acquired through the mentor training…
Working mechanics

Once the student arrives to the community and is assigned a mentor, they get to agree on a work schedule: a number of meetings (depending on the project) in which they will work together on the idea. After that period is finished comes the evaluation: feedback for the student and for the mentor as a form to keep improving in both their roles. There is the possibility to arrange more meetings if it is needed.
When that process is finished, the mentor is free to accompany the student in their journey as an entrepreneur now working with NEXO (the entrepreneurial center in UCU).
How does the student get to know of this community?

We knew the communication of new resources in our university has always being an issue. Billboards, screens, mails… So making sure the teachers know about the existence of this community is crucial. They will be the biggest link between the students and the mentors in the first step of this process.

We also thought of using the existing resource of WebAsignatura, an online platform where all the students of UCU take part. Advertise the community through that, and through the app.

Asuntos estudiantiles, a department focused on students affairs, shall also take part.

The interdisciplinary part of this project is the common work with NEXO. The community and the entrepreneurial center must work together, referring students and shearing progress, to make this whole adventure more enriching.

  • Define in which institute, department of vice rectorate will be in charge of the community.
  • Create the links between departments to make sure this idea works as it is supposed to do, as it is something that crosses all faculties.
  • Define the incentives the mentors will be given (credits, awards/bonuses).
  • Design (or choose) the platform in which the community will be working with.
  • Find possible mentors, train them and make them ready to work with students.
  • Inform teachers about this new resource.
  • Give a speech at Plaza de encuentros presenting the community, have some of the mentors show their enterprises.
  • Encourage students to present ideas, even the craziest ones


Related Links

Universidad Católica del Uruguay Campus Overview

Fall 2017 Fellows

Julieta Caputo

Sofía Muñiz

Manuel Heslop

Victoria Ferrer

Fall 2018 Fellows

Agustina Nacimiento

Brian Lorenzo

Maite Serantes

Malena Chiesa

Maria Josefina Martinez

Paola Cabrera


Fall 2019 Fellows

Gianni Martinelli

Sebastian Wilson

Veronica Sabella

Camila Massa

Juan Manuel Ave

Julieta Mossian