As mentioned in a previous blog post, Audi of America—in partnership with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and Forbes—recently held the third Forbes Idea Incubator, a one-day hack-a-thon created to bring together STEM-focused women from various backgrounds to develop solutions to a modern-day challenge.
Last month in New York, six teams of NYU Tandon undergraduate students collaborated, ideated, and presented innovative solutions to some of the challenges that city planners face when it comes to multi-modal transportation options.
Even more impressive than the ideas generated in the room were the inspired insights and thoughts shared by participating students, past Incubator alumnae, and the Audi mentors who were onsite that day.
Don’t just solve problems, instead get creative
At October’s event, we were lucky enough to host three past Incubator winners and NYU Tandon graduates -- Aida Mehovic, Emily Muggleton, and Camila Morocho. All three come from various backgrounds, but have one big thing in common—their strong desire to support women in STEM.
For Aida (a two-time Audi #DriveProgress Grant winner), it was important for the students to know that even if they didn’t win the challenge, it didn’t mean that their ideas weren’t good. If they still wanted to pursue them, taking a proactive approach and asking for help may ultimately get them to the goal.
“I had never participated at something in such high stakes,” said Aida. “It just really challenged me to value the critical ideas that I have; the second year [I participated in the Incubator] polished the way I operate and think as a person.”
For Emily, communication and the skills that the event taught her—in addition to the relationships gained—were critical. And, how attending an event such as the Forbes Idea Incubator really sets you apart in the job interview process.
“You get an opportunity to learn a variety of new skills, which is so important…and it shows,” Emily said. “There are people with low GPAs that are really good at communicating and are more likely to be picked for the job over people that have very high academics, but cannot communicate their idea.”
For Camila, the event helped paved what was next for her. She knew she wanted to do more than just solve problems; she wanted to develop truly creative ways for solving them.
“The Forbes Idea Incubator event was the first spark that led me to what I am doing now with consulting in solving real-world problems,” Camila said.
The three previous winners came together to encourage students to look at them as not only mentors at the event, but as mentors for their career journeys.
“I want to be there for the girls because there was nobody there for me,” Emily said. “I would love to make at least one person’s life a little easier.”
Some days are easier than others, as the three student mentors would agree, but one lesson they wanted to share was to keep going. “Fail fast, and don’t be afraid to,” Camila said. “You just learn so much through each of your failures, and they only help keep your creative juices flowing.”
Learning from each other
One major takeaway from the recent Incubator: Everyone went home with an experience they would never forget.
“What I enjoyed most about the event was hearing everyone present their ideas," said Alejandra Querales, a NYU Tandon senior and member of the October event’s winning team. “I was amazed by how every team found a unique way to solve the problem and were able to pitch an entire presentation in under five hours.”
NYU Tandon junior Ally Carlton-Lyndall, who participated on the same team added, “[The Incubator] is such an amazing opportunity for young women to not only showcase their critical thinking ability and problem solving skills, but to also gain really useful experience pitching and presenting themselves.”
“I would recommend the Idea Incubator event to my peers,” said Suqi Wu, a junior at NYU Tandon. “The challenge itself is relevant to current news and discusses the emerging technology and its implications on our lives – it makes us think from different perspectives.”
With support from one another, we can continue to build up the next generation of young leaders in STEM. The pursuit to drive progress doesn’t end when each Forbes Idea Incubator concludes; in fact, it just begins.