My SVIA experience

By Adya Kumar, Summer Session Student

The blog post below recounts Adya’s SVIA experience in Summer 2014. Visit the Silicon Valley Innovation Academy (SVIA) webpage for Summer 2016 program details.

The Silicon Valley Innovation Academy was an intriguing opportunity available to more than 100 students of Stanford Summer Session 2014 to meet with two tech startups, expand their knowledge of design thinking, and participate in some challenging design exercises.

The application process for SVIA was a selective process where interested students were asked to submit online a response using any form that demonstrated their capacity to be creative and innovative. They could present an idea for a new startup, explain a problem that needs to be solved, or justify the global impact of a company they admire. Based on this online application, around 100 students were selected, and put into groups of 20 students each.

For each group, there was a pre-flight meeting at the Stanford Design School organized by Anne Gibson, Design Principal, BMNT Partners. During this meeting, students of each group interacted with one another, discussed the basic concepts of design thinking, and participated in some simple design exercises. For example, students were asked to pick a new name for themselves, decide on something that they would like to explore, and then find someone in the group who has the same interest. Some students found the exercise quite fun and interesting. The meeting also provided the necessary preparation and materials for the day trip the next day.

The next day was the actual site visits, where the students visited two companies in San Francisco–PCH Lime Lab and Sequence.

Lime Lab is a product development consultancy that guides hardware programs right from the idea to development. After a brief company presentation, students had the opportunity to talk to the co-founder, Kurt Dammerman, and ask questions about the company, the product development process, and also about internship opportunities. They then engaged in some design thinking games which included building an office space out of legos, and putting together pieces of a puzzle game in under 10 minutes. The main idea was to brainstorm the students and put them out of their comfort zones, and direct them towards coming up with more creative solutions.

The next visit was to Sequence, a San Francisco tech firm team that has developed interactive solutions and campaigns for companies like Apple, Chipotle, and Chevron. The visit started with a company tour, followed by a PowerPoint, and follow-up questions. The students then participated in a basic design challenge of creating a prototype using some general scrap materials provided to them to demonstrate their idea. The tour ended with a final discussion of the trip– the key takeaways, expectations, and feedback.

At the end of the summer, the students of all the groups got together for a final design workshop where they engaged with some employees of the Silicon Valley area and applied their design thinking skills to several assignments. All in all, SVIA was a great experience for me. It has motivated me to be more creative every day, to focus more on innovative solutions to problems, and most importantly, to learn to be flexible.