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SAP made a significant contribution of time and talent at the University of Notre Dame last week all under the theme of advancing the curriculum and strategy for Design Thinking and Design Doing at the university. Each interaction was related to Design Thinking and its principles which are being applied in multiple ways at the university.

The newly formed IDEA Center (Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration) will be launching a new minor in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design ("EID") in the Fall of 2018.  This new academic initiative, which will be open to all undergraduate students at Notre Dame, will be a cutting-edge, experiential educational program in starting and running a business.

The IDEA Center is the fundamental resource for all commercialization and entrepreneurial activities at the University of Notre Dame. It provides the necessary space, services and expertise for idea development, commercialization, business formation, prototyping, entrepreneurial education and student entrepreneurial efforts. It is designed to bring the best Notre Dame faculty, staff and student ideas and innovations to market.

IDEA Center Vision:  Become a Best-In-Class Player in the Commercialization and Innovation Space While Making the World a Better Place

IDEA Center Mission:  Unlock Discoveries.  Fuel Genius.  Advance the Common Good.

IDEA Center Values:  Transparency, Integrity, Relationships, Creativity, Fun, Failing-Forward, Thoroughness

Based on these themes, the IDEA Center requested our assistance in planning the best program possible and one that sets Notre Dame apart as one of the leading entrepreneurship universities in the world.  Part of the focus was on all the key experiential learning opportunities and events that will comprise a total program; providing maximum flexibility and diverse opportunities for students wherever possible. We formulated key archetypes of the student population and created a Journey Map for the EID program planned for 2018.

On Thursday, we led an introduction to Design Thinking workshop for College of Engineering faculty and graduate students to help them understand how to apply Design Thinking and Design Doing to existing and planned curriculum. This led to another workshop on Friday to assist Notre Dame faculty plan for its implementation of a new Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program at the university.

Motivated by the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering and increasing calls for a new engineering education paradigm, Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering proposed a new education model to prepare engineers to be world changers. The program was endorsed by the National Academy of Engineering in February 2009.

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) has now been implemented at more than 40 engineering schools around the world. In a 2015 letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama, 122 engineering schools announced their plans to join this initiative aimed at educating a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century. The GCSP is a combined curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular program with five competencies that are designed to prepare the next generation of students for addressing the grand challenges facing society in this century. Each institution creates their own specific realization of how the competencies are implemented, which are approved by the GCSP steering committee.

GCSP Competencies are particularly well aligned with principles of Design Thinking 

  1. Research/creative: Mentored research or project experience related to a Grand Challenge to enhance technical competence and creativity.

  2. Multidisciplinary: Understanding gained through experience of the multidisciplinary character of implementable and viable Grand Challenge solutions

  3. Business/entrepreneurship: Understanding gained through experience that viable business models are necessary for successful implementation of Grand Challenge solutions

  4. Multicultural: Understanding gained through experience that serious consideration of cultural issues is mandatory for all viable Grand Challenge solutions

  5. Social consciousness: Deepen social consciousness and motivation to address societal problems, often gained through service learning, because serving people is the vision served by the Grand Challenges

A Global Movement

The GCSP is an outcomes-based program that gives wide flexibility to institutions on the best ways of offering appropriate and relevant experiences to students. It has the structure of a movement more than a project, where inspiration is driven by the power of the idea and execution is made within the local ecosystem. In order for this movement to take root and thrive, it has to be a global and engage a truly diverse group of students. It is hoped the GCSP will be replicated at many outstanding engineering programs around the world to yield several thousand graduates per year uniquely prepared and motivated to address the most challenging problems facing our world. A goal is for the program to pilot innovative educational approaches that will eventually become the mainstream educational paradigm for all engineering students.

This was a very high impact week across a spectrum of university programs and SAP interests. This will help create more early talent with a design mindset for the entire SAP ecosystem.