10 Human-Centered Moments From Our First Impactathon
Boundaries break down when you’re in a room with strangers for 10 hours straight – and that’s exactly what happened at our recent Impactathon held with global technology company SAP in the Bay Area. Over the course of a day, teams took part in our pilot Impactathon event, tackling a design challenge around getting young people the critical skills they need using the power of business and education.
Throughout this whirlwind day, teams of undergraduate and grad students partnered with SAP employees to walk through the marathon process (think a hackathon without the coding), ultimately presenting eight distinctive ideas by night’s end to a panel of esteemed judges. We’ve commemorated our top 10 moments here, as we look ahead to our next pilot event in Seoul, South Korea at Yonsei University.
1. After fueling up on lunch, the clock for the day begins. Thirty-two eager participants get a crash course in design thinking from Net Impact’s Linda Gerard, VP of Brand and Innovation.
2. Participants launch into the human-centered design process by interviewing experts like Anna Waring of the Foundation for a College Education about students such as Marielena, a high school student trying to stay motivated in the educational system.
3. Kate Tallant from FSG, a social impact consulting firm, talks through the trends of business in global education: what does shared value mean in this space, and how can companies truly inject real investments in student success?
4. SAP employees take the reigns as on-hand design coaches, leveraging the design thinking training they’ve received at the company. Here, SAP’s Ingalis Salonen works with a team as they start brainstorming solutions to the day’s challenge.
5. Five hours in? Must be time for a group stretch break.
6. Teams dive into prototyping head first with an all-hands-on-deck warm-up: the Marshmallow Challenge. Who can make the tallest free-standing spaghetti structure to hold a marshmallow? The lessons were quickly learned: fail early and try again.
7. New best friends jump into the burrito line. What tastes better than gorging after 7.5 hours?
8. All fueled up, the presentations begin – the crowd and judges sit back and hear the range of ideas, from a compulsory career readiness curriculum to online mapping tools for the college application process. Despite their exhaustion, the teams are integrated and enthusiastic – one student said, “This 3-minute pitch was my favorite moment of the day.”
9. We have a winner! Team 6 pitches P.Harmony, a matchmaking application for young students and professionals to focus on career path exploration. The team was praised for the idea’s inventiveness, focus on fun, and potential for impact. Judges also liked how the team thought strategically about the business case: professionals would be inclined to join the site through company employee engagement incentives, as well as cornerstone celebrity endorsements. Bonus: their skit included a truly outlandish mustache.
10. In the closing circle, participants reflect on what they’ll remember from the day. The responses: “New friends.” “Inspiration.” “Exhaustion.” “Play-Doh.” Sounds like a full day.
Photography credit: Arnel de Leon, Marie Casabonne, and Amira Polack