The Bryant Innovation and Design Experience for All (IDEA) Program was ground-breaking when it was introduced in 2013 and the course has been refined every year since to be even more transformational for students as the leadership team prepares for a milestone tenth year Monday, January 24 through Wednesday, January 26. IDEA is a cornerstone of the First-Year Gateway Experience, nationally recognized for its experiential learning by organizations including the Davis Educational Foundation and Hanover Research.
"Ten years ago, we had our own 'blue sky, wild idea,' and that was Bryant IDEA," says IDEA Program Director and Professor of Psychology Allison Butler, Ph.D. "My colleagues and I—with the leadership, participation, and support of the entire university—started a movement. And now, in 2022, the momentum for innovation, creativity, and teamwork has never been stronger. We can't wait to see what the future brings for the program and for our amazing students."
Building critical 21st century skills
The Bryant IDEA Program is a three-day, high-energy, immersive design thinking boot camp that the breaks the barrier of students’ preconceived ways of learning. IDEA embodies and advances the most valuable and differentiating aspects of a Bryant education: building critical skills in high demand through immersive, experiential learning in a community that supports the potential and path of each individual student. In the decade since its inception, IDEA has prepared more than 8,000 students for success by developing design thinking skills, teamwork and leadership capacity, and an innovative mindset.
Increasingly, organizations of all kinds have adopted many practices from the field of design to enhance their innovation capabilities. Design thinking is an approach to defining, investigating, and solving complex problems. Design thinking sits at the intersection of business and the arts and sciences, and is a systematic process for structuring a problem, gathering information, and generating creative solutions.
Highlights of the modified in-person format and three-day schedule for IDEA 2022, "Celebrating 10 years of big IDEAs" include:
- introductions of this year’s design challenges and stakeholder interviews with more than 125 business owners, customers, patients, parents, leaders, executives and other community members who will share their perspectives, expertise, and firsthand experiences with students during the field research phase of design thinking and help students build empathy for people whose lives have been directly impacted by the real-world challenges that student teams are tasked with solving
- an evening Pajama Party Pandemonium in the Fisher Student Center on Monday night
- a virtual keynote by Duncan Wardle, Former Head of Innovation & Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, focused on brainstorming, generating wild ideas and creating a culture that supports innovation on Tuesday afternoon
- digital storyboard presentations and initial pitches to accomplished alumni mentors
- a birthday bash celebrating 10 years of the Bryant IDEA- complete with a DJ dance party, magician, balloon artist, animal interactions, and, of course, pizza and ice cream on Tuesday night;
- the IDEA 2022 Program Trade Show and closing on Wednesday afternoon.
Addressing Real World Challenges
Preparing students to be real world ready is a hallmark of the Bryant experience. The design challenges for IDEA 2022 introduce real world problems that will help students develop their skills through engaging with timely topics such as:
FUTURE OF WORK: How might we reimagine work (e.g., the traditional workday, workplace environment, workplace culture) post-pandemic to attract new employees and maintain high levels of productivity?
WOMEN IN STEM: How might companies, organizations, and/or graduate programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields attract & retain female employees/students?
FINANCIAL LITERACY: How might we enhance college students’ financial literacy skills (e.g., saving, investing, lending/credit and budgeting) to set them up for long-term financial security?
SHOPPING MALLS: How might we reimagine shopping malls that have been hit hard by the pandemic to revitalize them and attract customers?
SOCIAL MEDIA: How might we promote safe and healthy social media use among young people?
HEALTH PROMOTION: How might health care companies/retail pharmacies encourage people to proactively engage with their health to prevent further medical issues?
PANDEMIC MENTAL HEALTH: How might we increase support and treatment for individuals experiencing heightened anxiety, depression, and/or stress due to the pandemic?
ART IN THE COMMUNITY: How might we bring art and/or the performing arts into public spaces and/or underserved communities to be a force for social change?
Students practice the design thinking process and work in teams to develop creative solutions to each design challenge. Faculty, staff, student, and alumni mentors coach and mentor each team during the hands-on experience, with mentors leading a series of workshops that introduce key elements of the innovation process so practices and techniques can be applied immediately.
Transformational learning outcomes
Bryant graduates say their participation in IDEA changed the way they look at the world and delivered significant competitive advantage in the job market. Learning outcomes for the IDEA Program represent the talent industry and society need now and include crucial human skills in effective communication; critical thinking and the habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues before forming opinions; diversity awareness in global, social, cultural, and political contexts; ethical reasoning; and information literacy with the ability to locate, evaluate, and use needed information.