ETU “LETI: Pushing Boundaries at an International Project for LETI Students

In spring 2021, a team of LETI students took part in Butterfly, an international online project organized by ETU “LETI,” Zealand – Academy of Technology and Business (Denmark), Universidad Finis Terrae (Chile), and Hochschule Ruhr West (Germany). The network project dedicated to innovations, management practices, and intercultural interaction took place for the first time.

In February, international student teams got acquainted, and in March, they began cooperating on tasks offered by the project professors. A total of 70 students participated in the project. Innovation and entrepreneurship students from the hosting Danish university acted as team leaders. From LETI, seven students of the Faculty of Humanities and five students of INPROTECH took part in the project.

From April 19 to 23, professors from the universities held classes for the participants during a project week. Students learned about intercultural communication and international negotiations at lectures and workshops by Olga Zhuravleva, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, about open innovation at lectures by Nadezhda Pokrovskaya, Professor of the Department of Innovation Management, and about team building in innovative projects at the seminar by Yulia Raichuk, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Innovation Management. At the classes of teachers of other universities, participants learned about the importance of corporate social responsibility and the application of design thinking.

“Such networking is amazing for pushing boundaries. It’s a deep dive into intercultural communication, and not just for chatting, but for solving real business cases. The diversity of cultures was not limited to the four countries of the participating universities. For example, Vahid Miridashtaki, a master’s student from Iran, was a member of one of the teams from LETI. I am sure that the project has great potential. Such lively and less academic communication stimulates informal connections and relations. One of the teams said that they became almost like a family.”

Yulia Raichuk, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Innovation Management
As part of the project week, participants also worked on tasks provided by Danish companies. The teams solved the cases of a football club, an fitness equipment supplier, a manufacturer of eco-friendly pumps, a wholesaler of party items, and a bakery that uses banana waste from supermarkets.

The students appreciated the opportunities the project offered. “Impressions are purely positive – it is an experience that is difficult to go through without international participants. I gained a lot of knowledge and adopted creative group agile approaches to problem-solving from foreign colleagues. During the project, we worked on various management cases, using very creative and productive approaches I knew nothing about,” Nikita Zaitsev, a 3rd-year student of INPROTECH, shared his thoughts.

“It was an unforgettable experience to communicate in an informal friendly atmosphere with foreigners – and not just foreigners, but the intellectual elite of their countries – students and professors of foreign universities, talented people, eager for new knowledge and inspired by their job. Among students abroad, it is not uncommon for a student to be older than a professor and already have extensive experience, but want to get new and relevant knowledge. We had several such students, such as Klaus, who is 49 years old.”

Nikita Zaitsev, a 3rd-year student of INPROTECH
The project used elements of gamification – approaches to increase engagement and create a competitive atmosphere. Teachers developed special badges with creative names and designs that gave extra points and were awarded both for completed tasks and for supporting team spirit. Students also created their badges, handing them out to those who excelled on their or opposing team. Participants used several platforms to collaborate and exchange ideas: Teams, Plazz, Jamboard, and Zoom.

“The international project showed how important the experience of intercultural communication is for students. According to the feedback of all participants, such events require a lot of energy, but these efforts are not useless; they help personal and professional growth, teach a lot, and therefore are necessary and crucial in the educational process!”

Olga Zhuravleva, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities
The project participants took part in workshops, assessed the relevance of stereotypes about their own culture and that of other participating countries, discussed problems of intercultural communication and increasing production efficiency, held impromptu business negotiations, and prepared presentations, offering their vision of internationalization of production processes. At the end of the event, the winning team could choose a charitable organization to which the prize money would be sent.

In October 2021, there will be planning meetings for Butterfly 2022, organized by Chile’s Universidad Finis Terrae.

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