A Unique Inter-University Program Addressing the 21st Century Skills Gap
According to the World Economic Forum 2020, some of the most critical skills needed to thrive in the future economy will be the ability to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams, build diverse networks, and be human-centered problem solvers. However, many university students have limited exposure to interdisciplinary problem solving, and tend to build connections within their bubbles (socioeconomic level, college, the field of study).
In this study, we’ll review Innovate NYC (iNYC), an extracurricular program addressing these skills gaps. In three cohorts between 2016-18, 50 students from 12 New York City colleges, collaborated in multidisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems using innovation methods like HCD (Human Centred Design) and lean business strategies. The challenges were provided by partners like NYCEDC (NYC Economic Development Corporation) and other locally focused non-profits. However, did the program achieve what it set out to do and how might we apply the learning? In this study we aim to: 1. assess the strength and diversity of social connections between former iNYC participants, 2. identify any effect the program may have had on their career pathways, and 3. assess their continued use of innovation methods. To do this, we will examine the structure and delivery of the program, as well as review qualitative exit surveys and longitudinal survey results.