Spring semester 2019/20 has become the first official semester for Sandbox as it was the first semester when Sandbox activities took place in its own space in the newly opened Delta Centre. Sandbox is a design thinking and digital product management programme for master’s students at the University of Tartu. Even though we call it the first “official” semester, Sandbox has been an active programme at the Institute of Computer Science since 2018 when we started developing a specialisation module for product design and management in collaboration with digital product managers from several Estonian companies, such as Pipedrive, Bolt, Tranfwerwise, Nortal, and others.
In two years, a number of projects have been completed by the students as part of Sandbox project-based courses. Since 2018, Sandbox has also been a member of the Design Factory Global Network (DFGN). DFGN is a global network of innovation hubs in universities and research organisations, which aims to create change in the world of learning and research through passion-based culture and effective problem-solving.
This year, February was the grand starting point for us: at the end of the month, Sandbox space was opened. More than 70 people joined the opening celebration, including the University employees, the UT rector, Sandbox students, industry partners, and guests from design factories all over the world.
At the same time, two Sandbox project-based courses commenced. In the spring semester 2019/20, the students had a chance to participate in the Digital Product Management Industry Project and Global Digital Innovation Programme.
In the Digital Product Management Industry Project, interdisciplinary teams of master’s students are formed and provided with a problem statement by Sandbox partner companies in order to find solutions to pressing or strategic challenges. This semester, three teams were working on the challenges provided by Telia, Estonia’s leading telecommunications company. The majority of the sessions of the course were held online due to the ongoing situation in the world, as well as the teams’ final presentations on May 20. Throughout the semester, the teams researched the problem, created the solution, prototyped and validated it, and presented their projects online to the Telia’s representatives. The teams worked on energy consumption and parental control projects.
The second project-based course, Global Digital Innovation Programme, is a collaboration programme between Sandbox and inno.space, a design factory from the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, Germany. At the beginning of the course, all students from both universities and the teaching team gathered in Sandbox for the Bootcamp. During the Bootcamp, everyone got to know each other and the methods to be used during the course. At the end of the Bootcamp, two mixed teams were formed by the teaching team to ensure diverse thinking and multicultural exchange. Each team had their own project to work on, one provided by the German side, VidaWell company, and the one provided by the Estonian side, Tartu City Hall. Throughout the course of the project, the teams were developing digital solutions to the projects they were presented with using the design thinking cycle. On June 10, the final event was held over a Zoom webinar where both teams had a chance to present their solutions. Team Spartans, which worked on the project about chronic diseases provided by VidaWell, presented a digital product that aims for raising awareness about chronic diseases and issues the patients face. Team E-mission, which was engaged in the project provided by Tartu City Hall, created a Leeroy app that helps children to get to school and has a goal of reducing CO2 emissions in the long run.
In the Autumn semester 2020, the students will have an opportunity to take the Digital Product Management Industry Project course, too, as this course will be running twice a year from now on. Two other courses will be delivered as well, the Digital Product Design Introductory Project and Digital Product Management Seminar. Take a look at our infographics about the courses and visit our page on the Institute website to learn more.
We hope to return to our regular sessions in autumn and use the Sandbox space to the fullest to drive creativity. We are looking forward to the start of the new semester in Sandbox to continue developing design thinking and product management education at the University of Tartu.