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Prove your Knowledge Project (PKP)

Different companies collaborate with schools to train students by providing Final Exam Projects.

Photo of Tyler Hughes

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Another regular school day. You enter the classroom with books (or coffee) in hand. You sit in your usual seat to hear your professor teach the lesson. It's an important subject, which could allow you to help millions of people, make an honest living, and help pursue your passion, but you barely play attention. Sounds familiar? Why is this such a common occurrence? You forgot the drive to learn. 

Learning has become monotonous. Tedious lesson plans taught with the same approach can make even the brightest student dim. Passion can easily be forgotten without the best catalyst. So why not offer students the best catalyst to improve their studies: the possibly of a job from one of the top companies in their field. All they have to do is ace the final project. 

Prove your Knowledge Project 

The Prove your Knowledge Project (PKP) is a collaboration program between a company and school where students use what they learned from class to complete a past company project based on the subject as their final exam. PKP will give students the incentive to work harder in class. It also offers real world application to improve understanding of the subject and career goals.


PKP requires a few criteria in order to provide students with the utmost capability.

    1. Beneficial relationship between school and business

    Sadly, the world isn't just all give. There must be a give-and-take relationship to keep both parties satisfied. The first step is connection. The school and company must have a subject matter to convene on. For example, a software development company will work with the computer science/information technology department. The next step is contributions. The company will offer the school resources (material, financial, guidance, etc.) and availability for employment. In turn, the school will offer free, limited company promotion and assisted training before graduation. 

    2. Adapted curriculum

    The curriculum will be updated to suit PKP. The final exam will include a final project, which is included in the overall grade. For the students to complete the project requirements, the coursework must help them understand the issues and find solutions. New classes are not necessary (understand the difficultly of changing a school curriculum), just a revision on the important topics for different classes. The project requires the students to work in groups to combine their skill sets.

    3. Previous company project

    The company will provide a previous project they worked on, but remove a few details for the students to solve. The students must use specific information from the project (provided by the company) and their skills from class to complete the project. Students have to recreate similar results to the completed project or design a different solution.

    4. Final project presentation with company reps

The final project will have two form of submission: a report and presentation. The report will include the groups detailed description on their result of the project. The presentation phase allows the students to explain their results to the class. Company representatives will also be in the audience during the presentation to assess the results and critique.  The most interesting/impressive projects could be offered a employment opportunity with the company  in the future. 

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

The idea is designed for students looking for experience outside the classroom. PKP offers an alternative motive for students to follow: the more impressive the project, the higher the chance of gaining an internship or contact. It an incentive to work harder while correlating classwork with real world problems.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I am curious on a few topics involving changing school curriculum and company policy with past projects. How common are school-business relations? Is it possible to allow students to work on projects for a company even if they are not employees? Any input will help.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a recent mechanical engineering graduate with 3 years of experience working with incoming student relations. I am currently a tutor for Chegg.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jawad Ali

Hi Tyler,

Great idea! I agree that to get students ready for the real-world, it makes sense to have the problems they solve in school be actual scenarios. As some others mentioned, companies will need some incentive to invest their time/resources. One option is the MedTech Innovation Course that we tried within the senior design course.

Would be great to talk further!

Photo of Tyler Hughes

Thanks for the feedback Jawad Ali . I read up on the MedTech Innovation Course you worked on. I like the collaboration of three different sources to meet a goal. The sources can offer different resources to the others while helping achieve a common purpose, which is ideal for both of our ideas. This allows a beneficial relationship, but my only concern is with the start-up (Alafair Biosciences) needing engineering expertise. Will the biomedical engineering students being offering the expertise and, if that's so, will the students have enough experience to assist the start-up? Other then that, your idea is definitively more robust than mine. I would love to see more from it.

Photo of Jawad Ali

Appreciate your insights Tyler! It's a good point about the capabilities of a student team. They're assisted by their faculty and we hope to be able to hand pick a student team which should both help. That issue is something we definitely need to take into consideration. Would be great to work together!

Photo of Ajay Chowdhary

I like the idea. I am not sure how much companies are motivated for projects like the one you mention. However I have seen many high level managers inside the company feel the need to communicate and share their knowledge. They want to be more recognised and gain trust outside their corporate world. Companies can start talented scout program. Highly motivated managers can collaborate with universities on behalf of companies for future projects. This exercise will aim for searching thinkers and doers kind of students. Managers who collaborate will be responsible for attracting best talents to the company. In this way students can be oriented to the places they like to work in future. In this way companies won't lose managers who want more than organization title.

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Tyler Hughes , great idea. I like that students get to apply what they have learned in tackling real problems. I also like that your focus is on past projects. What would you make of my two ideas Solve4Work Challenge  and Integrate Design Thinking Workshops and Startup Masterclasses in Schools ? I would love to understand why your focus was on past projects and maybe not future projects or innovations.

Photo of Tyler Hughes

Hey Isaac Jumba ! The two ideas you linked are interesting concepts. The Design Thinking Workshops and Startup masterclasses is something I would love to see implicated in the school system. The skills and opportunity you could offer to students is definitely needed in today's world.
My idea (PKP) greatly resembles your Solve4Work. It's important for students to have experience working with current problems today in different industries.

I focused on past projects for two reasons: legal use of student services and testing of problem solving/creativity. I am unaware if it is possible to have students work on a current project for a business without being a employee of that business. There could be legal issues involving a business profiting from the student idea's or liability if the idea leads to damage of property or an individual. Working of past projects avoids those possible issues since the project isn't current. Also, this adds an extra level of difficulty for the students because the project was completed in the past. Students will have to use various resources, mentors, and lessons learned in class to change the project without affecting the result. This will teach flexibility and critical thinking; it will also strength their understanding of class material. These skills are valuable for any business.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Tyler!

Great idea! It is good to see you in the ideas phase. For your idea, would the companies provide access to start-of-the art equipment that the Universities are lacking?

I have been looking for companies that have asked university students to solve past problems and I haven’t pulled up any so far. I have come across challenges where companies are asking students to solve current problems at specific institutions and in regions and more generally e.g.

I have seen examples of a few student-company collaborations e.g. I wonder how many involve cross-disciplinary students and students working with people outside academia.

It might be worth finding out which industries and companies are struggling to recruit qualified graduates and where the gaps lie.

I just want to highlight a post in the research phase which links to curricula at some Universities - Open Syllabus Project 

There are a few ideas that have been posted that might interest you, there might be potential for collaboration / shared learning - Student Multi-disciplinary approach to solving Local Business Challenges as part of Final Year Project and Interchallenge  

Photo of Tyler Hughes

Thanks for the links Kate Rushton ! I never knew a site like Mindsumo existed. As for your earlier question involving state-of-the-art equipment, one benefit of PKP is the relationship between business and university. The two must have a connection of contribution so both parties can truly benefit. For example, a company can provide any available equipment while the university provides transferable training/skills to the students for said company. The final exam project will demonstrate the students' new found skills to company reps.

Photo of Dathane Turner

Hello Tyler,

As I read your idea, I am intrigued. I like that the examination process which is accompanied by a final project. What your talking about reminds me of project-based learning adapted towards working with a particular company sponsor. In addition, I think we are like-minded in that the students needs to create some kind of tangible project that can be used by the company encourages learning. I wonder what you think about students operating within their project circle-team which could be outsourced by companies to come up with solutions for the company sponsor. My way of Holacracy-powered Project-based learning Role-Play would fit this bill but my idea can be adapted to yours in that the Circle-team becomes a outsourced agent for the company coming up with innovative solutions as they operate within a Holacracy-powered framework. Check out my idea. I would love to hear your viewpoint on it.

Photo of Madiha Ahmed

Hi Tyler,

How about doing some research in schools or involving present students in this ?