Taking on new challenges is vital to personal and professional growth. STEM fields are inherently challenging as new industry developments continually change the landscape requiring dynamic and flexible mindsets.
By Juwin Lee
Challenges that stretch an individual’s capabilities and expand their horizons lead to an intense learning environment. While facing the pressure of possible failure, a challenge creates the opportunity to learn problem-solving, practice resource management, and experience a sense of accomplishment. Participants in our Engineering Power-Up Program (EPuP) recently faced such a challenge over the summer and their trip to Singapore in February this year.
How does a challenge promote problem solving?
A challenge without an obvious solution invites iterative testing for problem solving, as experienced by Robert Tran during his EPuP trip.
“Over the course of 2 weeks, my team and I developed a prototype of a health monitoring device that would be able to proper lifting or sitting posture to help prevent back pain. Our idea ended up being awarded to be the most innovative business solution judged by a panel of venture capitalists.”
“Through this experience, I’ve learned that there is always room for improvement in the world, the hardest part, just like many other activities is to start doing things. I have also learnt that our initial ideas are often not the best ideas, after consulting with experts and gaining insights, pivoting is essential to create something that delivers value.”
Importance of resource management in tackling a challenge
Theertha Sunesh observed during EPuP that part of a challenge is being able to manage the inherent constraints and limitations. During her Singapore trip, Theertha had a chance to work on time management and juggling new information.
“I believe the program’s greatest strength is exposing its participants to new and exciting opportunities that they are in a situation to constantly be learning and growing as individuals. The program will challenge you to push to your limits and with the right mindset you’ll leave the program motivated and full of energy. I would also tell them to make the most of the opportunities that are in front of you, encourage yourself to go outside your comfort zone as the program is full of opportunities waiting for you to put your hand up.”
“I believe the most important thing I learned from my whole experience participating in EPUP is time management. This was most prominent in our time at Singapore. Within the two weeks there, we were required to come up with a solution on a relevant issue, validate our ideas and create a minimal viable product for a final presentation to high profile venture capitalists. The project itself tested our time management skills and challenged us further as we were also constantly learning new things from daily workshops and networking events. Managing multiple tasks and not being overwhelmed and delivering results of quality is a skill that is highly sought after in any professional career.”
Undertaking a challenge leads a sense of accomplishment
One of the best things about challenges is that once the challenge is over, people feel a rush of emotion from passing the finish line. Theertha Sunesh and Anthony Yu have shared their EPuP takeaways looking back at the challenges they faced.
Theertha Sunesh said “My experience with EPuP, I believe, is one that will stick with me for a very long time. I have gained a wide range of skills and learned with and from many highly talented and motivated individuals. For someone who started the program with little to no knowledge on entrepreneurship, I walked out having experienced a very short entrepreneurs journey. I am highly grateful for the programs focus on giving their participants an experience that is challenging yet memorable.”
“The most memorable experience is definitely the pitch night for me. Just before guests and the VC’s arrived I remember everyone looking so sharp and nervously walking back and forth in Draper Startup House’s backyard. Going up to deliver what we’ve been preparing for the past two weeks and feeling a sense of accomplishment was definitely a memory encompassing many emotions. I remember feeling a sense of comradeship with the rest of the cohort at the end as we all cheered on our completion of the program.”
According to Anthony Yu, “Living, working and learning as an entrepreneur to experience what it’s like to take life into my own hands and create something amazing was an experience I’ll never forget.”
“I’m so grateful to have worked with my amazing team who challenged me to create a legacy for ourselves — Global Citizen Movement, an open source news aggregator that helps to improve ‘carbon literacy’ amongst environmentally conscious individuals by providing curated articles to empower and inspire global citizens to reach a net zero future. In 2 weeks we were able to create a successful MVT & MVP that we could pitch to an esteemed panel of venture capitalists.”
“But I think the most valuable thing I got was the chance to meet some of the most inspirational individuals and learning from some of the impactful and wisest mentors. All with the goal of leaving the world a better place than they found it.”
What are the main takeaways from the participants’ experience?
Accepting and completing a challenge can be a confronting thought, however the experience for Robert, Theertha, and Anthony of living through a challenge such as the Engineering Power-Up Program leads to invaluable learning opportunities. The participants in the Engineering Power-Up Program see their experience as a chance to grow, learn problem-solving skills, and meet inspiring leaders.
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