Bryant’s IDEA Program 2017


by Gabby Rinaldi and Kelsey Gainor

For the fifth time this January, all first-year students will participate in an intensive and unique three-day course called IDEA: Innovation and Design Experience for All. The program will take place Monday, January 23 through Wednesday, January 25. The program itself kicks off at 9:00am on Monday morning, January 23rd. Teams will compete in a fun, but tough, design challenge that morning. From there, students can look forward to three days of hectic hands-on learning about innovation alongside other members of the Bryant community!

One of the best parts about IDEA is the out-of-class learning experiences students get in order to tackle “real world” problems and develop creative solutions. Using the design-thinking method, students of all disciplines will experience first-hand how to define, investigate and solve complex problems. There are a variety of projects for students to choose from, ranging from college-campus specific items to larger-scheme world problems.  For instance, some students might work on the question: How might we create a college dining hall experience that is conducive to the wants and needs of students?  Others might focus on how might we make people more likely to recycle? This allows students to establish personal ties to their topic as they hone in on their interests, thus making their creative solutions all that more meaningful. The list of project types will be released in mid-November in which first-students will rank their top five choices during the information sessions listed below.

Interestingly, the final project or solution each group creates must be displayed in ways other than a PowerPoint presentation. Students must find a new way to display their solution; this could potentially include a physical prototype or even an app.

Another great part about the IDEA program is the interaction time first-years will have with faculty, staff, alumni, and junior/senior students. These individuals will serve as mentors to guide the first-years through the creative and designing thinking process, alongside offering support in times of frustration or roadblocks. Getting to know the older students helps to build lasting connections that will stay with the younger students throughout their next few years at Bryant, and even afterwards.

More information will be distributed to first-year students soon in the next few weeks.  A short video describing the program and brief orientation sessions will be presented during November. During these sessions, students will see the complete list of projects and indicate their preferences. All first-year students must attend an IDEA orientation session. For additional information, a blog and a Twitter account for the IDEA program can provide further information.