The classroom or lecture theatre is a great place to pick up theory, but nothing beats the lessons you can learn by applying those ideas in a practical setting. This is what makes the Shell Ideas360 programme such a valuable teaching tool, and one that helps students step up their learning beyond anything they can get from books, research and lectures alone.
Dr. Thomas Connolly, Adjunct Faculty Member, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin, saw the huge value of this extracurricular learning while mentoring the university’s Team Smart Panels for Shell Ideas360. His team certainly made the most of the opportunity, making their first trip to Europe to attend the final at Make the Future Live in London, where they won both the Judges Choice and Audience Choice Awards. But the programme is about much more than just winning prizes.
With 750 entries from 144 countries this year, Shell Ideas360 is a truly global programme, and Dr. Connolly believes this is particularly important for today’s students: “In engineering there is more of a push for students to get international experience, reflecting the fact that the world is becoming more globalised.”
By showing students all the possibilities offered within a business like Shell, Shell Ideas360 can help to inspire the next generation of engineers. “It’s a very innovative programme and helps to show first and second year students the exciting bits of engineering. Experiencing this while studying may encourage students to stay in engineering”, Dr. Connolly explains.
The structure of Shell Ideas360 is built to mimic how ideas are developed in the real world, which provides students an invaluable insight into how to hone their own innovations.
Dr. Connolly, identified 10 key benefits students learn by taking part in the Shell Ideas360 programme:
- They are encouraged to develop creativity. This is a vital skill in engineering and will help them in their studies and their careers.
- They are exposed to the corporate environment and different roles, for example HR and communications.
- Students learn to understand business practices and the skills required by industry.
- They learn how to communicate ideas. This forces them to break down technical phrases, as they present their ideas to both technical and non-technical judges.
- They learn how to operate within a set of guidelines, where some things are not given or defined and they simply have to make educated assumptions and figure it out for themselves.
- Students learn to interact with and work with their own teams and with their competitors, while retaining good, professional relationships.
- Students are exposed to the best of the best ideas out there.
- Teams get impressive coaching, for example how to deal with the media and how to answer difficult questions.
- They gain valuable experience with and learn the importance of professional networking at social events.
- They get first hand experience of Shell’s corporate responsibility, which is ahead of the game.
With all these skills, up for grabs for Shell Ideas360 teams, now is the time to start thinking up some bright ideas for this year’s programme.