As a part of the BSc Information Management for Business (IMB) programme, students have the opportunity to take part in the UCL How to Change the World programme, an innovative two-week design studio that aims to develop the skills that students will need in order to apply their engineering knowledge to real-world problems. Third-year IMB student Andrea Ulicna shares her experience taking part in the UCL Engineering How to Change the World Programme.
What is the How to Change the World programme?
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be working on a project that has the potential to change the world? Students in departments that fall under the UCL Engineering Faculty have a chance to find out during their studies with the How to Change the World programme.
How to Change the World is a practically-focused two-week-long programme that allows second-year students of the UCL Engineering Faculty to gain hands-on experience in developing innovative solutions for the challenges of the 21st century.
The programme consists of a team project based on a real-world scenario, which is usually set by an actual company working in that given field. Each team consists of students studying different degree programmes so that there is always a good mix of technical, creative and communication skills.
The (virtual) experience
In June 2021 I had a chance to participate in the How to Change the World programme. As a team of seven, we worked on the Marine Challenge concerned with the restoration of the lagoon and marine environment in Lake Bardawil on the north coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The challenge was set by a company called The Weathermakers which had already been looking into the issues in the area. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the programme was held online, and it was a mixture of lectures, meetings with our supervisor and team independent work sessions.
The challenge was quite open-ended which our group did not particularly like at the beginning. Eventually, however, we embraced the flexibility and defined the underlying problem as we understood it. Subsequently, we were able to design a functional solution and realised that in the real world, we may encounter challenges that are simply too big to be solved in one go and may require us to choose our area of focus and break the challenge up into manageable stages.
Another struggle that we faced, but eventually managed to overcome was the difference in time zones. Quite a few second-year students were, at that time studying, remotely, from their home countries, which meant that the usual meeting times in the UK time zone would not work for them. That was why we divided ourselves into smaller sub-groups of students in similar time zones that would be able to work together synchronously. Between the sub-groups, we would mostly work asynchronously and meet online for the most important tasks. In hindsight, such adaptation was actually great preparation for the growing trend of remote-first companies.
How can a programme like this support one’s future career?
I believe that there are several ways in which programmes like How to Change the World can greatly contribute to my future career. First of all, the exposure to real-world scenarios and actual companies are of great help in transitioning between university and the job market, making it a smoother process. In addition, a programme like this is not only about getting experience working as a team of people you already know, it pushes you to work with students from other departments. The focus is much more on learning to work with new people who may have totally different strengths. Last but not least, this programme and also many more scenario-based assignments UCL School of Management students have a chance to engage with during their studies can help make your CV stand out!