IBM Industry and Innovation Workshop

Increasingly employers demand ‘innovation’ from their employees, but what is innovation and how can students begin to develop this key workplace skill well before exposure to the employment market?

In a workshop hosted by global business leaders IBM this week, our students explored the importance of businesses continuing to adapt in order to stay relevant and most importantly to stay in business. Through both discussion and practical activities, our students explored the key elements of innovation; knowledge, creativity, flexibility, and collaboration.

Innovation means creating something new, be that a product, idea or method and applying this to existing technologies. Success industry is reliant on keeping an eye on the market and being ready to change and adapt.

The highlight of the workshop was the Marshmallow Challenge, whereby students worked together to construct the highest freestanding tower with limited materials in just 18 minutes. The challenge demanded students communicate effectively in their teams and work within set parameters under time pressure.

The activity was enjoyable for the students, with the winning team achieving a tower of 46cm, which is an average size for teams taking part in the challenge. Surprisingly, our students discovered that Kindergarten children are the most successful at the challenge. Because young children are willing to try and test and try again, meaning that they have the longest amount of testing time.

One of our students said: “I thought to use the marshmallow first, but I rejected that idea. If I were to do the challenge again I would start with the marshmallow, as the children did.”

A key message from the session was that becoming an innovative thinker is not just about knowledge, but is also about how you approach a problem. Childlike creativity can help students to become key innovative thinkers, helping them to be successful in the working world.