Challenge Programme

ChallengeWhat is the Challenge Programme?

The Challenge programme is:
• A program of extra-curricular activities
• offered by five universities
• for selected highly talented students.
• four modules in the form of long weekends (Thursday evening- Sunday afternoon)
• organized alternatively at each IDEA league partner university (RWTH Aachen, Politecnico di Milano, Chalmers University, ETH Zurich)

For whom:

Target group: 3rd year BSc and possibly also 1st year MSc students selected for their outstanding academic performance and interest in interdisciplinary work.


For each selected student a stipend of €1000 to participate at the four long weekend modules. Of this amount €500 will be paid at the start of the programme and the remaining €500 will be paid to the participants upon their completion of the programme.
Housing is provided by institution that offers the module. Diner on Thursday is included, as well as lunches on Fri, Sat and Sunday. All other expenses (travel, diner, other) have to be paid out of the budget of €1000.

Features of this program:

This programme is for excellent students interested in future leadership roles, both in the public and private sector and therefore interested in issues at the intersection of technology and society. To be more specific: leadership, politics, entrepreneurship, policy making.
Working at this intersection requires different mindsets – the analytical mindset of the engineer, but also and in addition: a high tolerance of ambiguity, inherent to human behavior. We will work with real world problems, not with toy problems — students will experience the complexity of these problems, will experience what the strengths and weaknesses are of their engineering mindset en skills end will learn and develop new skills. The program is design-oriented: students should not only analyze problems, but should also design and present solutions. Since the program is on real world problems, we will involve practitioners in our modules.
The extended weekends in the four cities will be like a pressure cooker: at the start students will be faced with a problem, within 3 days they should present both an analysis and a design of a solution. These weekends will also contribute to strengthening skills like working in groups, dealing with limited information, working under time pressure, cooperation.

You can read a blog about the students’s experiences here, or download the Challenge Programme brochure here.


The accumulated four weekends will amount to the equivalent of 5 credit points for Generic/transferable skills and is in accordance with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS – 28 hours = 1 EC). In the situation of TU Delft the Challenge programme will be embedded as an integral part of additional, extra-curricular activities offered by the home university to selected, excellent students resulting in additional credits on top of the regular curriculum. For the other universities, the ECTS points can not be counted for the curricular program.

Quality Assurance: a joint Challenge Advisory Committee of academic representatives of all five partners, and including the Secretary General of IDEA League, will be responsible for the overall quality assurance of the joint Challenge Programme.
An IDEA League certificate will be provided after successful completion of the IDEA League Challenge Programme. The courses will be listed on the certificate.

Dates and Topics of the four modules:

Click here to see the dates and topics of the four modules of the Challenge Programme 2016-2017


Send your CV and motivation letter BEFORE 30 June to:
TU Delft students: Barbara Marx, 
RWTH Aachen students: Viola Voigt,
Chalmers students: Sophie Broström,
ETH Zurich students: Regula Christen,
Politecnico di Milano students: Application through the Online Services; for enquiries:

Locally it is decided which 6 students can participate in the program.
Before 1 September, the selection will be made. The final admittance of all candidates will be confirmed by the Secretary General of IDEA League

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