What do you get if you take 16 & 17-year-old (Year 12) A-Level students and put them in a room with business professionals and charities from across the Thames Valley? You get the biggest and most ambitious ‘Green Meets Grey’ that we have ever delivered, that’s what!
On the 9th & 10th November we welcomed 64 students from John Madejski Academy, Kendrick School, Leighton Park School, and University Technical College – Reading to join us and several big businesses from around the region to solve real business challenges using the Internet of Things (IoT).
Using Design Thinking methodology, Mark Mason asked the teams to be empathetic and consider who their customers were, before defining a vision and direction for their challenge. He then let them loose with ideation and brainstorming activities allowing them to dream big and use the full force of their creativity!
After lunch on day one, the students and mentors were split into smaller groups and we allowed them to explore their solutions from both the technology and the business perspective.
Louize Clarke led the business groups and walked them through her 6-step customer centric process and already had them preparing for the ‘pitch’ presentation the students would give at the end of day two.
A team of Cisco mentors, working closely with the tech genius’ at Pycom, took the other team members through basic coding exercises and used Gamification to allow those groups to explore the technology and think about IoT as an enabler.
The ideas were developed during the second day as each team moved their concepts into prototypes and started practicing their pitches. The day ended with 3-minute pitch presentations to a panel of judges consisting of people from Cisco, Nvidia, Thingitude (a Reading based IoT startup & ConnectTVT Gamechanger) and Reading Borough Council.
There were some outstanding solutions and the quality of the presentations far higher than we have seen before. Our congratulations go to our winning team H2O for their solution to detect water leaks in pipes, a challenge posed by Thames Water.
We’d like to especially thank Adrian Fry and the Cisco technical team for their support – we simply couldn’t have delivered this ambitious project without their help. Thank you also to our sponsors Nvidia, Thames Water, Stanley Black & Decker, Maple Tree, Wolf, and Peter Brett Associates
We never cease to be amazed with the energy that everyone gives to Green Meets Grey and as always the spotlight is on the students. However, the events would not happen without the support of people from businesses (both large and small) that give up their time to volunteer as mentors and make these events such a success. Specifically those from startup businesses, our thanks and gratitude go out to you all…
- Claire Thompson – Care Locker
- Mark Stanley – Thingitude
- Mike Beardmore – Thingitude
- Richard Jones – Dolaugu
- Rachel Eden – Holy Brook
- Steve Samuels – Think Engineer
- Issy Wiggins-Turner – Wheres Your Website
- Dave Hodgkinson – Strategy Activist
Mark (Judge) – “I love the creativity and the enthusiasm that comes out of these events”
Green Meets Grey is a win-win for all those who participate. The students are the stars of the show and they get to work with potential employers on real business challenges, meet new people and make new friends.
Jake (Leighton Park School student) – On Green Meets Grey “I got involved as it’s something interesting and something new that I haven’t done before.”
Harry (Leighton Park School student) – On the business challenge “What I like about it is that it’s a real problem and a real life situation and we get to use business skills as well as design skills.”
Andrew (UTC Teacher) – “When an event is well organised with clear objectives and exciting opportunities, all you have to do it point the students in the direction and they will take you the rest of the way.”
The businesses get to see the students in action – see them work in teams, collaborate together, use creative and problem solving techniques and observe their presentation skills in action.
George (Stanley Black & Decker) “It’s great and amazing being in this environment where we can start ideating around real business problems.”
Further details on Green Meets Grey can be found here.