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Expanding a student’s horizon of opportunity: Inter-Collegiate Project Teams w/ Design Thinking

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of thinking outside the box:

I happened to latch on to a serendipitous opportunity to collaborate with a student team from another university in a different country, on my own team’s project.

That’s right, my project team at IT University of Copenhagen (Subject: Industry-based Wind Turbine Inspection Improvement) volunteered for the opportunity to pilot of international student-team driven collaboration.   We diversified our team’s abilities by merging ours with a more technically-skilled student-team in Techniche Universität München, and conducted a video-collaborative Design Thinking Workshop (from Scoping, Research, Synthesis, Ideation, Prototyping, to Validation) on our Wind Power Industry Improvement case. 

Notwithstanding it was a relatively short experience with Design Thinking, (7 hours compared to my 30 hour Design Thinking experience at SAP’s InnoJAM  in Copenhagen last March) it was enough to produce our co-shaped, hope-for results with some added insight I didn’t expect.

Like SAP InnoJAM the experience opened my mind to my capabilities to imagine, and create something user centered, with ‘the right people’  in a relatively short period of time.

Unlike InnoJAM, (or any previous experiences I had with Design Thinking), this opportunity required my geographically-dispersed Design Team to weave a productive, inclusive culture of communication through a video-collaborative medium, and still be productive!

This had several implications: I couldn’t rely as heavily on the materiality and share-ability of physical objects like sticky notes and markers.

We had to get creative with hybrid solutions, both virtual whiteboard online softwares (like Stormboard) – which posed their own accessibility constraints and enablements – and some good old paper drawings, held up to a video-camera so the other team could see.

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And when some tools broke down, we had our predetermined “time-boxes” for each phase, relentlessly driving us forward to discover what we “can do”, as opposed to what we can’t do. 


True to Design Thinking methodology: we made challenges become opportunities.  And with an additional 5 minds and skill-sets to ideate with, we reached further progress in our work than we could have on our own.

A good sense of humor, a clear purpose, a determined commitment to providing consistent constructive feedback are key elements to to a rich, insightful, & productive design thinking outcome.  And we wanted a good outcome because we want to be well-prepared to rock our exams, in addition to enhancng our education and skills.

Our culturally-diversified German-Danish team of 11 students were able to generate insights beyond that of our own.  For example, our team gained stronger technical knowledge of the capabilities of SAP tech. like HANA, and Sybase Unwired Platforms, so we could envision our prototype outcome with actual technically feasible results.    Our Copenhagen team have already begun to include them in the construction of our final written work. Preparing for and engaging with this inspiring, productive experiment of project work has left us feeling more more prepared for our final exam than we have before experienced in typical project work. 

This isn’t the end of our planned inter-collegiate collaboration (see our planned schedule).

Who knew that we could benefit from and find time to incorporate this sort of collaboration into our busy student lives?

Who knew that so many of the right student-partners are as accessible and able to work with us as an Adobe Connect, or Video-conference call away?

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So here’s my main take-away:

My concept of working with student projects in my education is now expanded to consider the other students in the world, studying at other universities on similar subjects as I.

So if you also like the idea of expanding your educational reach to span countries, cultures, and universities  — drop me a line or a comment! I am one of 130 students studying Global Business Informatics at Denmark’s youngest university, the IT University of Copenhagen. 

What are you studying? In what country?

My fellow team-members and I in Munich (studying Management & IT, and Information Systems, with special interest in SAP technologies) in Copenhagen have many more projects to be involved with in our student careers.

(In Copenhagen we are in our 4th of 6 semesters of only our Bachelors’ Degrees)

Let’s see how much further we can go together.



See the event’s full background information

To my teammates in München — Daniel, Felix, Moritz, Tim, Nikolaos:

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