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Sponsored By (Updated 12/15/15)

Companies sponsoring college courses related to their field and industry.

Photo of DFA NYU

Written by

This idea emerged from a brainstorming during our OpenIDEO meetup at NYU on November 5, which involved students from NYU and other schools in the city, as well as some young professionals.



Companies have a lot of issues and problems that they are not able to solve due to lack of time and human resources. What if they presented these problems to college students to solve and in return paid for one of their courses?

For example, an automobile company could present real-world problems for Mechanical Engineering students and ask them to develop solutions during their Senior Design course. In return, this company would pay for the course.

This program could benefit students, companies and universities.




BENEFITS FOR STUDENTS

Besides having the cost of their education reduced, students would have the opportunity to have hands-on experience and learn through real-world problems. Furthermore, this is a chance for them to learn employable skills and to network with professionals.

At the end of the courses, the students can show their projects and skills to companies.



BENEFITS FOR COMPANIES

Besides having some of their problems solved, this is an opportunity for universities to have students trained in the skills that they need. So, instead of having to give trainings to new employees, the company could sponsor courses related to these skills.

Furthermore, the companies would get to know students. This would make the recruiting process more effective and efficient.




BENEFITS FOR UNIVERSITIES

Establishing contacts with companies is a good way for university to guarantee students placement in the job market and consequently to improve their reputation. This could be an alternative for career fairs.



EXPERIENCE MAP


MEET AUSTIN

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Name: Austin 

Age: 22 years-old

Profession: Student


Austin is a senior mechanical engineering student. He is a good student and has good grades, but he hasn't had a lot of opportunities to do many internships. His studies demanded him a lot of time. He will graduate next semester and he feels unsure about going to the job market. He feels he hasn't enough experience.

______________________________________________________________________________________________


AWARENESS

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One day Austin receives an email from his advisor about a course opportunity in which he will be able to have hands-on experience. This course will involve solving a real-world problem proposed by Ford. The course will be paid by the company, so he will also receives a discount on his tuition fee. 



ENROLLING 

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Austin decides to enroll on the "Sponsored By" course. Since there were more students than spots available, the students were selected by their previous professors. Austin was one of the students chosen, so he receives a discount on his tuition fee.



FIRST CLASS

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Austin then attends the first class of the "Sponsored By" course in which an employee from Ford present for the students a challenge about how to improve driver's safety. The speaker informs students that they will work on team for this project and each team will have a professional mentor.




PROJECT

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Over the semester, Austin and his team work on their idea. They do research, talk with drivers and build a prototype. 





FINAL PRESENTATION

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At the end of the semester, Austin and his team present their idea to the Ford employees and they love it. 





JOB OPPORTUNITY

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Because of his project, Austin receives a job offer from Ford. He will analyze it and compare with other offers. Austin feel much more prepared to start working.


What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We've talked with students and received positive feedback about the idea. According to them, it would be great to have more experience before graduating. We also presented the idea to a NYU professor, who is willing to help us to pilot it next Fall (which means designing the program this Spring). He also talked briefly about the idea with some companies and they were interested in participating in the project. Next steps include writing a formal proposal to NYU and to potential sponsors.

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

Have you heard of similar programs? What assumptions are we making that we might want to test? Any other ideas on how we could prototype our idea?

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO meetup

24 comments

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Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi DFA NYU team, you might want to check this idea. The model is slightly different but it might be inspiring as the goal is somewhat similar: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/feedback/make-experience-a-credible-form-of-education/

I'm also wondering if you've been thinking of issues around credits. Can this be a capstone project or maybe an internship incorporating some mentorship? Curriculum design is difficult and more difficult is the creation of new courses (e.g. in NY, you need to go through an approval process by NY States which is quite lengthy). There might be ways to think of this as a credit granting experience but not a course per se. Also did you have a chance to test whether students want credits for the experience or the experience and building a portfolio is enough? Good luck!

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Hi Anne-Laure Fayard ! Thank you very much for your feedback and for sharing Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom post. It provided some great insights for our team. 

We have been thinking about the issues around credits. The suggestion of the Professor that we talked is to this be a capstone project or some elective. It seems that undergraduate students have some "extra" credits that are very flexible. We haven't thought about it as an internship. But, this might be an option too. 

We haven't tested whether students want credits for the experience or the experience and building a portfolio is enough. Since our final goal is to reduce the costs of college, we assumed that the students would receive credits. But, we should certainly test this assumption. Thank you for bringing this up. 

Spam
Photo of ZACHARY J. JOHNSON
Team

This is interesting. I like that this is a win win solution. I have some questions/concerns about why companies would participate. I hope they are helpful. 

A: Companies can be reluctant to invest their time, money, and brand into something like this due to an inability to extract the value created. The major value outputs being (I think): monetary value of the work of the students, the value of any hires from the coursework, any positive brand image accrued by participation, and any specific learnings that might benefit across their business. In short, the summation of these must be positive and translate (in an easily explainable way, hopefully) to a business's bottom line. I foresee an intricate contract might be required to ensure the business can appropriate their fair share of value. This will be especially tricky should you want businesses to propose and contribute projects of importance/value to the program. 

B: I think of student work as highly variable. Some students will perform up to the needs of the business, some might/will not. Is it possible that businesses might be more willing to give "real" projects of value if student output variability was less?  A more competitive student field might entice more business participation through the concentration of (expected) value. 


 

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Hi ZACHARY J. JOHNSON ! Thank you very much for your feedback. You brought up important points.

As you said, when talking with companies, we try to make clear the major value outputs that they would have participating in the program - access to students knowledge, recruitment and brand image. And, in general, I think the people that we have been talking really understand it. Companies were interested in our idea.
 
Regarding the quality of students' work as well students' motivation, these are thing that we will have to deal with during the program. And, we are not sure about the best solution yet. The companies stated that they would need to find projects that were not “critical” for them which is probably a good idea as we don’t know what success the students will have in creating value for the company.

Thank you again.

Spam
Photo of Nirbhay Shah
Team

Hi !

I absolutely love this idea! I would like to know if you guys have thought of the enrollment criteria or perhaps ways to cater students from all departments? Thanks! 

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Hi Nirbhay! We are glad that you liked our idea. Great question! We are still working on the enrollment criteria. We have been talking with a professor who is willing to pilot our idea. And we are analyzing with him, the best (and most fair) way to do it. As soon as we have more information about this, we will update our post. 

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hi there!
I really like your idea on connecting industry directly with classes. I think that is a fantastic way to get students to be more motivated with what they take and their education, because they will know that their is a company who is focused on getting the best students too.

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Hi Irene! Thank you for your feedback. We are glad that you liked our idea. And we hope to get students to be more motivated with what they take and their education. :)

Spam
Photo of David Choo
Team

Congrats NYU team! It's awesome.
Looking forward to hearing about the next steps!!

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Thank you David Choo for your positive reply! We will update our idea soon. :)

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Congrats! Great to see an idea from our OpenIDEO meet up on the platform and featured. :-)

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi NYU MeetUp Team!
Great idea! Check out Juan's Idea from the youth employment challenge. It is similar to your's and there might be inspirations there. He proposed building a digital platform to connect students, local industry, and university professors to bring real world problems into classrooms as a way for students to learn, get"real world" experience making them more employable, and for local industries to gain access to solutions to problems. He outlines how this played out in one of his classes at university in Columbia. It is really interesting! Your idea adds on the exchange for student tuition. I really like the full ecosystem you propose.
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/youth-employment-pathways/feedback-2/integrated-model-of-smes-students-a-program-that-unites-the-real-modern-and-local-challenges-faced-by-local-companies-with-the-learning-process-of-universities-students-to-increase-student-professional-preparation-and-smes-competitiveness/comments#comments-section

One idea might be to utilize alumni networks as a resource for industry/professional contacts. Perhaps you can reach out to alumni that are working in industries/professions connected to coursework at your school, and see what they think of the idea. Check out the university career center as a place to browse alumni that have signed up to be available for students as career contacts. Alumni working in corporate philanthropy, grant giving, or community relations/volunteerism might also be great to connect with as they might have insight into what corporations might think of the idea, or be able to propose it to their company?

Are you familiar with Northeastern University's Coop approach to education? Might be learnings or inspirations from what they are doing that you can build into this idea?
http://www.northeastern.edu/coop/about/

Looking forward to seeing how this idea develops!

Bettina

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Bettina,

it's great seeing you back online with as always thoughtful and useful feedback. Juan's idea is indeed relevant (and he did a great job of presenting it). I did not know about the co-op model but it's a great one.

Team, you should definitely look at Northwestern program. You also might want to check (and build upon) the University of Waterloo co-op model which includes earning income for the students: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/research/co-op-program-at-the-university-of-waterloo
Juan also did a great job in presenting his idea visually.

I think it'd be great if you could go and talk to one of NYU Tandon faculty running the Senior Design course to test the idea with him (Earl, you know who I'm thinking of :-) ). You could also talk to someone at the Career Center to see if they think companies they are in touch with might be interested.

It might be useful as you refine your idea to develop a scenario or an experience map using a persona: it will help community members (and possible stakeholders) understand your idea but it will also help you articulate the different components of your program.
See for example:
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/ideas/cumulative-savings-ecosystem
or this idea in the ewaste challenge: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/e-waste/concepting/neighbourhood-e-waste-champion

Looking forward to hearing about the next steps.

Spam
Photo of Izabela Correa
Team

Hi Betina! Thank you very much for your valuable insights. Sorry for taking so long to reply.

Juan’s idea is indeed very similar to our ideas and can be a great source of inspirations. Moreover, as Anne-Laure highlighted, his visual presentation is amazing! ☺

The idea of using alumni networks is great! As you said, they could help us to connect with companies. We should also definitely talk to the career center during our prototype phases. I believe they could not only help us with contacts, but also give us more insights about the needs of the employees. This would help us when reaching out the companies.

The co-op is also a great source of inspiration. I didn’t know Northeastern University had this kind of program. Thank you for sharing.

We will try to develop further our idea and we hope to post updates soon here.

Thank you again for your positive feedback.

Spam
Photo of Izabela Correa
Team

Hi Anne-Laure! Thank you very much for your comments and suggestions about how to move forward.

I believe Juan’s idea as well as Northeastern and University of Waterloo co-op models can certainly help us on the next steps.

I will try to contact the team and get them excited about prototyping the idea. We should certainly use our network at NYU Tandon to get insights and test our idea.

Sorry for taking so long to reply. Thank you again

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Izabela,
Hi. Great idea to tap alumni to find out about the needs of employees and their companies, in terms of what students might have to offer, and using that when reaching out!

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Izabela, don't forget to build upon ideas from the research phase or from the ideation phase as it will invite people who posted the idea to provide you some feedback. :-)

I really like the update and the experience map makes it clearer and shows the potential of the idea.

I think you should contact a faculty at NYU Tandon School of Engineering: either in Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering to discuss the senior project. It'd be great also to contact companies and see if they would be interested in this kind of programs (you might get contact through the career center).
You might want to check this idea which is somewhat similar in inspiration: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/higher-ed/ideas/integrated-learning-consulting-projects

In terms of consulting model, you could check NYU Stern program: https://www.stern.nyu.edu/portal-partners/student-engagement/experiential-learning-programs/stern-consulting-corps
This program is only volunteering-based but it can still give you some inspiration.

as well as Pratt: http://designcorps.pratt.edu/
This is a course and there is a sponsor or a set of sponsors.
You could imagine working with a group of sponsors on a topic.

Looking forward to hearing about your prototyping efforts.

Spam
Photo of Izabela Correa
Team

Hi Prof. Anne-Laure. Thank you very much for your tips and comments. I already included some posts from the research phase that inspired us.

Thank you for sharing Jim's post as well as the information about the Stern Consulting Corps and the Design Corps at Pratt. Both of them are amazing initiatives and can certainly help us.

I am trying to get the team together again to continue working on the idea.

Thank you again.

Spam
Photo of Hudson Baird
Team

Great idea!

Spam
Photo of DFA NYU
Team

Thank you Hudson.

Spam
Photo of Adria Spivack
Team

Love the idea. This already happens (in a way) at Carnegie Mellon University. There are classes where the main purpose is for companies/organizations to come in with an issue and in return, they would donate to the school or pay a fee (at least I think so-- as a student, I didn't know the entire deal) and give the students a budget to work with. The class itself would ensure that the project gets done, is high quality, and provides support/lessons as needed. It was a great way to easily get realistic client experience.
My concerns are: most colleges/universities don't have a price per course system-- even with part time students. It seems extremely complicated to implement that new and have students worry about paying for each course. It could result in some students taking one or two courses per semester and never getting their degree, students might not be able to "overload" course credits and graduate early, and generally creating complexities just for the sake of it. Maybe there is an alternative? What if the money they would pay went into scholarship funds that the school organizes? Or if the companies went to high schools with these issues and paid the students then? Its essential to consider when students will be getting the funds and how it works with the payment system on a larger scale.
Another concern is that you are marketing this as a way to get jobs after they graduate and that just isn't true. It may help, but the job market is fickle and it is very unlikely that any company is comfortable enough hiring large amounts of students for as much as four years down the road. Smaller ones don't even budget that far ahead. Engineers and Computer Scientists are probably the only exception anyone is willing to make.
While this idea would work well for current students, I don't know how motivating it would be for high school students who can't see that far yet. There is a lot of potential-- the idea just needs to be reworked a bit.

Spam
Photo of Shannon Holloway
Team

Great point Adria, the Carnegie Mellon HMCI program's capstone project is a good example to see a current model in action: https://www.hcii.cmu.edu/academics/mhci/capstone-project

My concerns lie with the financial details between sponsor/university/student. Are students paying tuition for the two semesters they work on this project? Does the sponsor give a donation to the university or do students receive some compensation and in what form? As seen in the example partnership with Bloomberg, the students are contributing a lot of value to existing client products and working directly with their internal teams. The line between work and education has been abstracted and can only be discovered by answering "where's the money?"

Spam
Photo of Izabela Correa
Team

Hi Adria and Shannon! Thank you very much for your comments and feedback. I believe both of you gave you interesting insights that we should certainly consider when prototyping the idea.

I will try to clarify the way that we thought about the financial details of this program. This is just our initial thoughts and I think we can improve it with the openideo community members’ feedback. :)

We are aware that programs with similar models already exist in universities. Some examples are:
- Carnegie Mellon HMCI Capstone Program (Thank you for sharing Adira. And thank you for the link Shannon.)
- Georgia Tech Capstone Project (http://capstone.gatech.edu/)
- Michigan State University (http://www.capstone.cse.msu.edu/2015-08/projects/sponsorship/)
- Northwestern University (http://www.capstone.cse.msu.edu/2015-08/projects/sponsorship/)

However, the main change that we are proposing is that beyond getting experience solving the companies’ problems (and usually some money to build their prototypes), students also receive some kind of reward. Considering that the main “users” in this challenge are low-income students, we believe a financial reward would make sense.

Our proposal would be that the company would pay the costs for that specific class or at least for part of it. So, the students enrolled in it would have the tuition reduced that semester. This wouldn’t significantly reduce the college costs. But, it would certainly help.

For example, a student enrolled in 5 courses in one semester. If two of these courses are “Sponsored By”, he/she would only have to pay 3/5 of the tuition for that semester.

We thought giving this “scholarships” would be better than giving the money to the students. So, we make sure that the investment is making on education. And we also believe this process would be less bureaucratic.

About the marketing Adria, I agree with you that we cannot promise jobs. After all, we cannot define the number of employees that the company need from each major. Our belief is just that the hiring process as it is today is costly and not very effective. We believe creating way to companies and students network in a more meaningful way than through career fairs could help to improve the hiring process.

Moreover, from the research phase, we concluded that most of the students decide to go to college to get a good job (although I personally believe this shouldn’t be the main motivation). So, even if it is something distant, most of high school kids are already thinking about it. Jobs seem to be their main motivation.

I hope I have been able to make some of the points clear and to answer some of your questions. But please, feel free to make more questions and comments. This feedback process is essential for us to improve our idea.

Thank you very much again.

Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!