Blog: IDEA League Challenge Programme Weekend Aachen 15.-18.11.2018

The second module of the IDEA League Challenge Programme in Aachen was about social responsibility. We learned about the importance of social responsibility at universities and developing a human-centered solution through a design-thinking approach. We were all excited to see each other again and were looking forward for an interesting challenge and an intense and fun weekend.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Thursday

After most of the people arrived, the program started on thursday afternoon with a warm welcome from Prof. Piller and Ana Da La Varga at the Institute of Technology and Innovation Management. To pursue our personal development goals we had defined in the last workshop, we got some time for a short personality group work to redefine our goals and work on how we can reach them. Next we got a short introduction of the Gründerzentrum of RWTH Aachen. People were quite surprised how much support young founders are getting at our university. The last official item on our agenda was the visit of the e.GO showroom and ramp-up factory at Campus Melaten. On our transfer there by bus we fortunately had enough time to enjoy the view on the beautiful Uniklinikum. Then we got a very interesting presentation of e.GO, and had some time to explore the prototypes of e.GO as well as getting some insight of the factory.  The first day came to an end at Café&Bar Zuhause. Meanwhile, the rest of the group finally arrived in Aachen and we had a nice skittling evening with pizza and some German beer.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Friday

When we arrived at the Institute of Technology and Innovation Management, Prof. Piller welcomed us all and gave us a quick overview about facts and figures of RWTH Aachen University. Assistant professor Jessica Menold from PennState University introduced us to the underlying topic and set the framework for the upcoming workshop. We had the opportunity to create in teams solutions concerning the integration of refugees in the German society by using the Design Thinking process: First, we defined the problem and made assumptions as well as observations about the refugees and the situation, in which the refugees find themselves. Then we phrased a game-changing statement. In order to test our assumptions we met several refugees in the afternoon and had the opportunity to interview them and exchange our ideas. Their stories were impressive and inspiring and we were glad that most of them followed our invitation to join the group dinner in the evening.

After the intense workshop we went to an important object of interest: the Lindt Factory shop where many could buy Christmas chocolates and souvenirs.

At the end of the day the students, the professors as well as the refugees were invited to have dinner at Essbar in the Pontstraße. As you can see below we also explored the Pontstraße and some of the student bars in Aachen.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Saturday

On Saturday Prof. Menold started the day with an animating and really fun ice breaking game that set the right mood for the upcoming group works. The design thinking workshop served perfectly to generate, evaluate and redesign our ideas and brought up a lot of very different solutions to the topic. The last part of the workshop was all about designing our prototypes for the next day. Therefore Prof. Menold introduced some very interesting prototyping tools and strategies. After finishing our workshop for this day we headed to the Elisenbrunnen and were awaited by a tour guide to get a quick tour through the old city centre of Aachen. Here we learned about the Roman history of the city, which started as an ancient spa thanks to the local hot springs. Thanks to Charlemagne the city of Aachen had a revival in the 9th century that can still be observed today when visiting the impressive town hall of Aachen or the city’s cathedral. This inspiring day was ended by a Dinner at restaurant Zum Goldenen Schwein with interesting conversations and Schnitzel.


IDEA League Challenge Programme – Sunday

Sunday morning we worked again in our groups to finalize our task and prepare our presentations (without any bullet points!).Every group presented their unique ideas and prototypes with a small video, an app mock-up, or other inspiring and vivid formats and very team got feedback from the ‘jury’. It was nice to see how each group developed and improved their ideas over this short period of time and came up with a prototype and an convincing concept.

After the last lunch for this weekend, it was time to say goodbye and travel back to our home universities. We all learned a lot during this intense weekend and are looking forward to the next weekend together. Next time we will meet in February in Gothenburg at Chalmers University of Technology.

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