Fresher’s rise to challenge of ‘Making Something Wonderful’ during their first days at Essex

  • Date

    Tue 22 Oct 19

Students taking part in Challenge Week

Students were asked to ‘Make Something Wonderful’ during an innovative Challenge Week, where normal lectures were scrapped in favour of students being given a set of tasks to undertake.

At the very first session of the very first day at Essex the students were split into small teams and then asked to: analyse sentiments of a live Twitter feed, design a robot that can navigate a map, control a car using biomedical signals or design a new board game from the scratch.

To make the task even more of a challenge, they had to complete them in three days, culminating in a presentation on the last day.

The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CSEE) held their third annual Challenge Week which uses a unique ‘learning by doing’ and teamwork-based approach that takes place in short bursts of highly creative activity.

This idea of a Challenge Week has attracted national interest, with other universities expressing an interest in developing one for their own students. The initiative and has already won an Essex 2018 Excellence in Education Award.

Dr Vishuu Mohan, who organised the event, said: “Using a playful project-based learning method, the Challenge Week focuses on the 4 C’s - critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication - which students will need to adapt and succeed in the constantly changing and competitive global environment.

“This was the first time Challenge Weeks for both first years and final year students were running in parallel - hence involving around 650 students, 30 staff members and activities running round the clock in various labs in the School and STEM building.”

The challenges were combined with other sessions such as keynote lectures from external experts, hands-on presentation workshops, talks from the research groups at CSEE giving students an insight into research at Essex and, importantly, how they can be involved/access the cutting-edge infrastructure available at their disposal.

As the event coincided with World Mental Health Day, there was also a special session which focused on mental health and wellbeing with an interactive performance including essential information on student support services.

This article was written by Multimedia Journalism student Jessica Day-Parker