On day 2 of the Bryant IDEA program, students learn how to take a great concept and see it through to fruition. Throughout the day the IDEA participants, tasked with addressing important global problems, continued to acquire skills that helped them become more effective innovators and problem-solvers. Journey mapping and “How might we…” exercises aided them in zeroing in on the specifics of their challenges with laser focus. Brainstorming and team-building sessions empowered them to develop a wide range of original solutions. Learning convergence techniques and strategies for rapid prototyping gave them the tools to hone those myriad ideas into a single best plan.
With that new skillset in hand, the students are then given the freedom to think outside the box and truly make their projects their own. Faculty Mentor and Professor of Marketing Srdan Zdravkovic likens the process to learning to drive a car. “On day one, it's like the students are reading the manual and learning the controls from their parents. On day 2, they are taking the car out on the road themselves.”
“We remind the students, ‘Remember when you were younger, and you were told to reach for the stars? Well, this is a chance to get back to that,” notes Staff Mentor Amy Steere, Internship Coordinator for Bryant University’s Amica Center for Career Education. “This is a time to find dream up the biggest solutions you can.”
For London Hunt ’26, the opportunity was inspiring. “I’m learning a whole new way to think and learn and new ways to empathize, design, prototype, test ideas, and solve problems. I’m really excited to take those skills into the real world.”
A helpful community
The IDEA students also received support in the form of visitors from beyond the University’s Smithfield campus. IDEA keynote speaker Nikkia Reveillac, Director of Consumer Insights at Netflix, discussed the role that innovation plays in both industry and in our daily lives — and the steps that the students could take to become more insightful, people-focused innovators. “Creativity is something in all of our hearts and all of our minds and it is within all of our capabilities,” she reminded the students.
Bella Thoms ’26 appreciated both Reveillac’s message and how she provided relatable examples. “I really liked that she didn’t just focus on the business aspect of things; she focused on how to improve yourself and how to see other people better,” Thoms said, noting that she would be incorporating those lessons into her own life.
In the evening, each IDEA cohort was visited by alumni mentors who helped them further refine their projects. “Our goal as alumni mentors is to bring real-world understanding and experience to the process,” says Steve Berman ’68, a veteran alumni mentor who has taken part in every year of the IDEA program. “It’s that real world experience that Bryant students get that puts them above so many others from competitor schools.”
Alongside fellow alumni mentor Harrison Garrett ’19, a senior analyst at Boston Consulting Group, Berman, the former National Food Service Sales Manager for Tribe Mediterranean Foods Inc, aided the students of Cohort 31 in their efforts to revolutionize the supermarket industry. They listened to the student pitch their proposals, discussed with them the issues they were trying to solve and the route they took to their current plans, and posed new questions for them to ponder. They also encouraged the students to dream even bigger.
“It was really good to have someone new come in and look at our project, especially people with different types of experience in different areas,” says Brennan Finn ’26. “They helped us step back and really think about what we were working on and how to make it better.”
Armed with new insight, the students worked into the night on their projects, turning great ideas into ideal solutions.