Working for a start-up company is an increasingly attractive option for uni students looking to gain industry experience. Likewise, start-ups are on the lookout for accessible emerging talent ready to take on the world. If the stars align, there is a chance you might even fast track your way to a senior leadership role. At the University of New South Wales there is a switched on team with good high tech brains connecting the dots and making it happen. It’s called Real Skills Education.
In December 2016 Telstra’s muru-D backed start-up ‘Wattblock‘ participated in Real Skills Education’s week long workshop for students from the STEM Leadership Program (SLP). Wattblock is a data analytics company targeting energy waste in residential strata buildings, a massive global challenge that effects both global warming and property affordability.
Wireframe concept that RSE team developed for Wattblock
Wattblock co-founder and Chief Data Officer, Ross McIntyre, set a project brief for eight STEM students. The students were asked, “Imagine if your apartment building could talk to you, what would it say?” The brief was to develop a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ or MVP for a smart phone application. The purpose of the app would be to allow people to interact by voice and touch screen with a continually learning, artificially intelligent building. The group decided to split into two competitive teams with slightly different views on how to achieve this. Ross spent several hours talking with both teams about the target market and the opportunity he saw around emerging technologies. At the end of the week both teams stood up in front of a packed audience and delivered an impressive presentation of their concepts.
According to Ross, “The presentations were of a high standard. I was really impressed with the amount of energy and enthusiasm the program generated. There was a strong sense of teamwork and bonding. I wanted to keep that alive, so I offered both teams the opportunity to continue the project through a summer internship with Wattblock. We had six students join us as part of a special project team. Over the course of the break they learnt how to use wire framing tools to further elaborate their concept, ran surveys and user testing, conducted costings, and wrote a final report on the outcomes.” Since completion of the internship project Ross has hired one team member that had just graduated and was keen to bring others on as the business ramps up.
“Real Skills Education is a brilliant idea that has been really well executed” Ross commented, “It’s just perfect for start-ups like us. Right now start-up co-working spaces are starting to form on university campuses, which makes it even more convenient to access motivated talent. We happen to be ‘catalysts in residence’ at the UNSW Michael Crouch Innovation Centre (MCIC) which has just expanded to host 11 other start-up companies. There is a big shift taking place and I think Real Skills Education is really going to ramp up quickly.”
To apply for the STEM Leaders Program now click here! Don’t miss out!
For more information about Real Skills Education and how you can become involved as a partner please feel free to contact William Wu (Partnerships Director). For more information about Wattblock visit their website which can be found here.