For three weeks during the lecture-free period, 84 students took advantage of the opportunity to work in international teams on 25 tasks set by companies and institutions in the field. They developed concepts and prototypes in the logistics, healthcare, IT consulting, non-profit, communications and media sectors, among others.
What are the issues migrants face when they arrive in a new country and what support do they need? And how can AI support recruiting processes? What are the key requirements for successful hybrid working? Which technologies can be used to digitalize logistics processes? These are just four of the 25 issues addressed by the students at the 5th PRAXIS Summer Camp. With their original ideas, innovative concepts, and future-oriented prototypes, the students convinced their cooperation partners over an intensive project work phase of only three weeks.
At the 5th PRAXIS Summer Camp (PSC), 84 students in international teams devoted themselves to real business tasks for three weeks from August 2 to 20, 2021. These tasks were set by the project partners, for example, HEC GmbH, hoodtraining GmbH, Laureus Sport For Good Foundation, neusta aerospace GmbH, Sparkasse Bremen AG, Bremen Senator for Economic Affairs, Labour and Europe, swb AG, and other organizations.
Before the digital kick-off event and the intensive full-time work phase, an initial briefing by the corresponding company took place and the students developed a short presentation with their specific project goals. Following the virtual kick-off, the international teams then started their three-week intensive project work phase.
During this time, they analyzed, designed, organized, and evaluated their real-world tasks and developed relevant insights for their project topic. After the students had familiarized themselves with the particular topic from a theoretical perspective, they then put the knowledge they had acquired into practice in the project.
Twice as Many Projects
The PRAXIS Summer Camp was launched in 2017 by the Office for Practice and International Affairs within the Faculty of Business Studies & Economics at the University of Bremen. This year, there were twice as many projects as in previous years, as well as new collaborations with other University of Bremen partner institutions.
“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved,” is the summary of the 5th PRAXIS Summer Camp. On the one hand, students work in small groups on real tasks from real companies and gain important skills for their future careers. On the other hand, companies gain new insights that they, in turn, can integrate into their business practices. To this end, company representatives and a team of three to four bachelor’s and master’s students from the University of Bremen, Jacobs University Bremen, Essex University (UK), Colorado Boulder (USA), Tor Vergata (Italy), and Bloemfontein, UFS (South Africa) worked closely together.
The teams received support from the organization and coaching team, which this year consisted of Maren Hartstock (Office for Practice and International Affairs within the Faculty of Business Studies & Economics), Dr. Martin Holi (UniTransfer), Dr. Denis Pijetlovic (future concepts bremen and HumanRoboLab), and, for the first time, Dr. Cornelia Driesen (Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, ZeMKI). The students also engaged in a close exchange with Student Scouts and the Master’s degree students Caroline Brüning and Clara Cardoso.
Virtual Collaboration as a Challenge
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all individual coaching sessions for each topic of the project took place digitally. And even the collaboration among the various teams was organized mainly virtually this time,” says the PSC21 team. This was a particular communication challenge for everyone involved, but at the same time, it offered the opportunity to gain additional experience in the digitalized working world of the future.
“One of the things I particularly liked about the PRAXIS Summer Camp was that we worked for a real company and that the results were put to actual use,” says Marcel Rohde, who works in the swb AG team. His team enjoyed the focused project work during the quieter lecture-free time and the support from the coaches.
Gina Engel, who worked on the Bremerhaven magistrate’s project, also praises the support she received during the project: “We could always contact our coaches and if we had any problems, we could always approach them and ask for advice.”
From Social Media to Logistics
But not only the companies contributed their expertise to the projects: Larissa Gumgowski could be won for presentation coaching and the use of digital tools. Rogerio Nishizawa assisted students with technical questions. In addition, experts from the academic and business communities supported the teams. For example, Victoria Meyer from affinis AG provided some insight into social media applications, Sven Sieverding from HEC GmbH explained digital applications, and Stefan Wiesner from BIBA discussed logistics solutions.
Tara Kia, part of the HEC GmbH team highly recommends attending the PSC to other students: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to work on a ‘real’ project, together with people experienced in the field. It’s great to work ‘with’ them and not just ‘for’ them, so we’ve been able to learn some of the methods they use and work with.”
To ensure that the program can be realized again next year, the organizing team is looking forward to receiving applications from interested cooperation partners from companies of different sizes and from different industries, as well as from non-profit organizations and public institutions. Registrations for the PRAXIS Summer Camp 2022 are open now.
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