New innovation efforts inspiring

Martha Pietruszewski

Group projects: You either love them or you hate them. Or, if you’re like me, you just get used to them (thanks, Carlson).

If you’re that socially awkward kid who prefers to sit in the back of the class, you may need to start eyeing the smart people in your class. A new trend in education is encouraging collaboration between students of all backgrounds and majors. This is a smart move that more universities need to embrace.

The University of Minnesota is slowly but surely moving toward fostering innovation. Two University students are currently serving as Innovation Fellows, a program run through Epicenter and Stanford University.

The goal of this program is to bring new types of thinking to campus. This is a great initiative that shows a lot of promise in creating new relationships between engineering and business students, for example.

The relationships are beneficial for everyone — if engineering students have a product they need to market, that project is right up a business student’s alley.

Another way Minnesota is encouraging cross-functional collaboration is through a recent innovation called Co-Lab. Co-Lab members want to engage the entire University community to generate ideas. This is a very effective way to crowdsource solutions to problems the University might have. It also encourages students who are passionate about something to speak up and get involved in solving it.

While these programs are great for the University, we need to make sure they have a long lifespan. Once the students behind these initiatives graduate, the initial source of passion may be lost.

Next time your professor announces a group project, even if you dislike the class, you just need to fake it till you make it. You never know when a CEO of the next great company is sitting next to you.