Reframing the Future: GBF, Limitless Lab PWR UP STEM scholars with innovative skills during boot camp

Challenging, value-adding, and fulfilling." GBF scholar Lance Sangcal describes his experience during the three Saturday PWR Up Innovation camps.

Reframing the Future: GBF, Limitless Lab PWR UP STEM scholars with innovative skills during boot camp

With the rising demand for a high caliber workforce, Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, in collaboration with Limitless Lab, held a three-Saturday workshop dubbed as PWR Up Innovation Camp for the 25 STEM GBF Scholars last August 13, 20, and 27.

PWR Up aims to develop design thinking skills among the participants, which mainly focuses on human-centered innovative problem-solving techniques. The scholar-attendees came from different provinces all over the Philippines, and are currently in second, third, and fourth year college levels.

All 25 GBF STEM scholars were grouped into five according to their chosen design challenges, namely: Rethinking distance learning, helping disaster-prone local communities better prepare for disaster and calamities, promoting locally sourced products in highly urbanized areas, encouraging girls to take STEM courses, and making mental health awareness more accessible to the Filipino youth. 

"Today is the start of another journey with all of you. You are chosen to be part of this pilot batch of scholars that will go on a journey of learning, experiencing, and doing." Ms. Graciela Mendoza, Sr. Program Manager of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, connotes as she officially opens the start of the first-ever camp of the GBF STEM scholars. 

In addition to this, Ms. Amina Rillo, VP for Digital Transformation of JG Summit Holdings, Inc., expounded in her presentation the difference between traditional thinking and the new thinking era, and how it mainly relates to the focus of the program—21st Century skills development. Ms. Rillo cited new ways of working and changing the way we solve problems. "Design thinking is one of the very good frameworks in terms of attacking a problem." 

As the first day officially starts, Ms. Joie Cruz, the founder and CEO of Limitless Lab presented an overview of the program and set the participants’ skills and learning expectations. She said, "the good thing about our innovation camp. you will be given the opportunity to collaborate with other STEM Scholars coming from different geographical locations." 

The whole journey revolves around how each team maneuvers their skills in producing prototypes for each problem assigned to them. The excitement and cravings to learn new things surround the whole session as they all start to collaborate with their mentors in developing their different tasks; identifying their stakeholders, presentation of customer personas, and actual prototyping.  

"Challenging, value-adding, and fulfilling." These are the words that GBF scholar Lance Sangcal describes his experience during these three Saturday camps. 

One of the important events held in this camp is the actual planning and interactions of the participants which includes interviewing their target stakeholders, designing a prototype of their program, and developing a realistic and achievable project for each identified problem. No wonder Yuanah Marie Cruz, one of the GBF STEM scholar participants cited that her experience of working with her teammates even beyond their Saturday learnings was one of her unforgettable moments during the three days camp. "It was really fun and I didn't expect we would have this kind of bond." 

Together, the scholars presented their hard work to a panel of advisors on the last day of the camp. This panel consists of Piotr Kuklo of IDEO, Alvin Chan of Robinsons Land’s Tayo! Hub, Joanne Tong of Pag-asa Steel, and Arlaine Marcelino, as student coach. Team Creatives conferred a conducive solution to answer the growing problem of the education system in the Philippines through their E-Direkswela app; followed by Team Disastress who aims to provide a quantifiable solution to answer the needs of each barangay during disaster thru their online crowdfunding. Team 3rific, on the other hand, showed off their pride as they presented their online street product named Lokalye which aims to open endless opportunities for local entrepreneurs; while Team 4TW stressed motivating women to take STEM courses through their She STEM campaign. Lastly, Team Dynamic Creators introduced their Akbay Alalay app to cater to the increasing demand for mental health needs among young Filipinos. 

The PWR Up Innovation Camp culminated with awarding of the top three winners with the most innovative and comprehensive solutions and well-designed prototypes: Team Disastress earned third place, Team 4TW the second place, and Team 3rific bagged the first place.  

All the teams were acknowledged and praised by the panel due to their creativeness and strategic collaboration and still went home with prizes on hand. "Aside from the fact that we are learning a lot in this camp, we realized that there are a lot of problems that the Philippines is facing right now that need urgent actions." Michael Angelo Conui, a GBF scholar participant, stressed as he shared how relevant this training camp was for him.