Kicking Off InnoEnergy Master’s School 2016!
The new students from six of our InnoEnergy Master’s School programmes came together for the first time with InnoEnergy teachers, staff and industry experts. These future pioneers in sustainable energy spent two days immersed in an environment of true community spirit – where they gained insights, shared perspectives and experienced exactly what makes studying here different – connection, in every sense of the word.
How DO we connect with each other to manifest elegant solutions in sustainable energy? What a great question… and an excellent theme for this year’s event! Connection is key. If you look at the core mission of InnoEnergy – education, innovation and business creation – you see that all sides connect to form the knowledge triangle. And so must we all to connect together to form this universal open network. Because when you think about it, most of our major “AHA!” moments come when we are interacting with others, sharing ideas or just saying our challenges out loud – perhaps hearing it differently for the first time. Whether in the lab together, online or at the pub – these human exchanges are necessary. And what these two days were all about.
So how do you take approximately 230 students from 6 programmes (only Smart Cities was missing), multiple cultures, backgrounds, and parts of the world – and put them together in hopes that this “magic” happens? Easy. You throw in Matt Clarke and Vittoria Piatelli from Open Space Studio and let them steer us through the proceedings, like two professional connection pilots.
Through a series of fun (and sometimes very intensive) exercises, the students were led on a journey. From coming to Königstein knowing a few fellow students from their own programme, to leaving having literally met AND connected with just about everyone there. No small task, but it happened.
Group-work was key. The students went through many seating/working configurations – all designed to foster an atmosphere of openness, cooperation and co-creation. From ego to eco – the focus shifted from the “I” to the “we”, where all could be inspired and explore solutions together. However, the actual challenges and solutions weren’t the main focus, instead it was the CONNECTION between the participants that this open sharing created. The exercises were just the catalyst for this shift – and as the buzz in the room could attest, it worked.
Students also got to sit back and hear some great speakers. Just to name a few: Diego Pavia (IE CEO) reminded us that you cannot achieve anything without a great team at your side, Elena Bou (IE Innovation Director) said to forget FINDING a job – you will be CREATING jobs, and Marian Belko (EIT Ed. Officer) taught us how to accrue “social” capital, which perhaps in this day and age is the most important form.
And as always, hearing from industry partners who are already out there, having created elegant solutions in the marketplace is a real treat. Their insight is invaluable and sometimes, as was the case with David Anstee (GreenSync), what they share hits hard. His presentation in regards to the Great Barrier Reef was the perfect example of what we should be doing in the world – making the environmental problems OUR problem. Internalising it. Not just something that happens somewhere else. Seeing 30% of this once vibrant reef now a dead, ghostly white really hit home – for those that have been there or have it on our bucket list. This problem is now OUR problem. And this is how we bring change to the masses.
Between each speaker, students were asked to connect with one another, to talk about what sticks in their mind from what was just heard.This kept everyone in the moment, making sure they were active participants instead of passive receivers.
As the event drew to a close (with an awesome party!) and everyone grabbed on to that last bit of truly feeling like they belong to something big… we were reminded of the message from IE CommUnity about staying connected. The very definition of connectivity is not only the “state of being connected” – but also the extent to which the components of a network are connected and the ease with which they can converse. IE CommUnity offers the perfect place to foster this community we are building. To nurture these new connections. To let them grow and be your touchstone – now and in the future. Because no one can affect major change on their own, you need others.
Remember you are a part of a concentric circle with a common goal at the centre, so connect and continue to bridge the gaps that separate us. It’s going to be a great two years!