SCET students shine in Global Venture Catalyst Design Sprint

Berkeley SCET students distinguish themselves in global venture competition

Ask anyone in the know, and they’ll tell you the University of California, Berkeley attracts some of the most talented students in the world. Twelve students who have taken courses within the SCET once again had the chance to prove it at the recent Global Venture Catalyst Design Sprint.

Computer Science major Misha Lubich worked on a human resources technology project called “Unbiased,” which uses AI to remove hidden biases in the hiring process. The team was one of five finalists.

“Joining the GVC program as a CS student from UC Berkeley, I already knew a few of the leaders that helped bring GVC to fruition. I was very confident in my technical skills. During the sprint, I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to build a startup from start to finish. I also now understand why the right kind of mentorship is so important to success. Effective mentors don’t overwhelm you with white papers detailing methods of entrepreneurship nor believe that their role is only to give inspiring pep talks. A successful mentor is someone who cares, who puts his heart forward to all project team members and truly invests himself into their success. This is what I experienced in the GVC, and it is what I will seek as I begin my career after graduating Berkeley.”

Economics and Environment Sciences major Christina Schulte worked on developing a food tech application. The purpose was to help the livestock industry (beef, chicken, pork and lamb) lower their carbon footprint and environmental impact. The team was also one of five finalists. 

“Our project focused on the relationship between these major carbon producers and their effect on global climate change,” said Christina. “We saw that the public lacked knowledge on the energy input for certain types of food such as, how much water and land are required for raising cattle.”

Their solution was to design a color-coded, easy to understand, carbon footprint label to briefly explain the resources consumed for each product, along with QR codes that consumers could scan to find more information online. 

Khushi Malde is majoring in data science and business and worked on a project with LearnLaunch, the leading education technology startup accelerator in the US. LearnLaunch also manages a venture capital fund to invest in EdTech companies.

 “I got the opportunity to receive amazing feedback and insights at the GVC events,” said Khushi. “I have grown as an entrepreneur tremendously from the advice I have received.“

Other participants included:

  • Karthik Sreedhar (EECS and Applied Math major), who was on a blockchain-based digital identity project.
  • Chuzhen Wang (masters student in industrial engineering & operations research), worked on a project with data center virtualization and cloud computing pioneer VMware.

Cheers to the students for their strong showing at the Design Sprint, building on the highly experiential approach to education provided to them at Berkeley by SCET and in other courses. The Berkeley students emerged as  leaders on their respective teams and will be highly competitive in the global talent market.

Not surprisingly, the Global Venture Catalyst design sprint has roots which can be easily traced to SCET. Many of you know Professor Ikhlaq Sidhu, Co-Founder, Faculty Director and Chief Scientist of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Dr. Sidhu has ably led the Center for over 15 years and continues to bring innovative approaches to educating the next generation of students. We had the opportunity to first meet when I moderated a panel as part of the Innovation X Roundtable Series on Digital Fan Engagement in the NBA.

We realized we had very aligned views on experiential eduation and decided to extend our collaboration to co-found the Global Venture Catalyst platform and community.

I’ve been very active over the past year with SCET – it’s been a great privilege to become a part of the community. For those I’ve not met, I’ve mentored and served as an instructor in the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, the Data X course, Applied Data Science with Venture Applications, at the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, and I also serve as a program development fellow for SCET X-Labs. I’m also on the faculty of SCET’s Engineering Leadership Professional Program as well as a faculty member Harvard, Brown & Rutgers and have spent many years in a wide range of capacities at MIT

Beyond Book Knowledge

The idea behind Global Venture Catalyst is to help engineering, data science and computer science students build technical skills by working on real-world projects while also networking with top students from other universities. I’m inspired by the motto “mens et manus,” from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I’ve taught for years.  It translates from Latin as “mind and hand.” When people learn with their hands that knowledge is instilled more deeply than learning only from a book or lecture. This is something that Professor Sidhu deeply believes as well, and it informs the way courses are taught within the SCET

The logic is to facilitate the use of people’s skills in a highly practical, hands-on way, so that it sticks. Rather than just work on random projects, why don’t we work on real projects for real companies. A real project that the company has strong interest in seeing successfully executed aligns interests and ensures great outcomes.

Bridging the Gap to Professional Opportunities

One common theme strongly emphasized across the entire global cohort- virtually all have found it especially challenging to find internships, summer jobs, as well as co-op or full-time employment as on-campus recruiting came to a halt. With students more or less locked out of traditional campus activities, they were hungry for opportunities to engage in collaborative project work and put their skills to the test.

World Class Global Corporate Collaborators

GVC’s purpose – to provide students from the world’s top-ranked research universities and MBA programs with opportunities to showcase their technical skills on real-world projects with major industry collaborators like Applied Materials, Celonis, Dassault, Medtronic, Next Era Energy, Samsung, Verizon Media, VMware, as well as with VC funds, accelerators and startups. The approach – a “design challenge,” a multi-day event where students are divided into teams based on common interests and complementary skills to solve specific technical problems presented by company sponsors. Over four days, 40 teams of students, living on every continent except Antarctica, took part in the Global Venture Catalyst design challenge. Each team had one professional company mentor, two or three student engineers, who focused on the innovation and design aspects of the challenge, and one MBA student to bring in a level of industry experience and focus on connecting to the market. The teams that presented the most feasible designs are declared the winners.

Top Global Research Universities and MBA Programs

In addition to Berkeley, the tech students hailed from research universities including Stanford, UCLA, U. Michigan, U. Texas, Rutgers, Boston University and U Delaware in the US, Waterloo and U Toronto in Canada, Plashka University in India, Hong Kong Baptist University, U Melbourne in Australia, the Technical Universities of Munich and Dortmund in Germany, the Technical University of Denmark, the Prague University of Economics, and several others. They were joined by top tier MBAs from Wharton, Stanford, Columbia, Babson, INSEAD, and IE, amongst others.

What’s Next

If any of this sounds interesting to you, we’d love to have you join us. GVC will run two sprints this summer, one in June and the second in July. Each will run for two weeks, and have been designed to enable students to be successful in their internships of summer jobs. For more information, visit www.globalventurecatalyst.org.

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