Lancaster University: LUMS students rub shoulders with industry experts during innovative ‘hackathon’ workshop

Last week, 30 students studying for an MSc in Digital Business, Innovation & Management (DBIM) at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) participated in a two-day workshop which challenged them to come up with a business case for an innovative solution to a simulated cyber resilience challenge.

The event, held on 24 and 25 March, brought together academia and industry in the form of a ‘hackathon’ workshop – a type of collaborative event where groups work together in a short timeframe to recommend technical improvements and solutions for digital transformation.

On the first day of the event, the students were divided into groups and asked to assume the role of cyber-security consultants to develop a business case for investment to improve a Utilities firm’s cyber-security strategy. They then set out to create a business case within their groups to present to the wider audience at the close of the event – which included senior representatives from Welsh Water and Fujitsu.

While preparing their business case, the groups were further tested by being asked to provide immediate support to the fictional scenario when the Utilities company experienced an ongoing cyber security attack. This tested their real-time reactions, and meant they had to factor additional information into their plans that were to be presented on the second day.

The panel of judges – comprising of representatives from Fujitsu and Welsh Water – were impressed by the students’ contributions and during the closing session, presented the winning group comprising of Shuang Hu, Diana Rudometova, Jia-Yu Chen, Kunyu Wang and Yan Laurent Dimba, with £200 prize money.

LUMS’ Dr Uzair Shah, Programme Director of the MSc Digital Business, Innovation & Management (DBIM) said: “Our DBIM course empowers our students to explore the role and limits of digital technologies in driving business innovation and managing change – so the hackathon was a perfect opportunity to put learning into practice and test innovative thinking within a safe and simulated environment.

“The workshop was also a great example of university-industry collaboration and was the first time the event was delivered in hybrid mode with some students participating online – which worked really well. The students certainly benefitted from rubbing shoulders with industry experts working at senior positions in Fujitsu and Welsh Water to not only enhance their learning about complexities linked with cyber-resilience consulting, but also develop greater understanding of the dynamic nature of professional work with global organisations.

“I was very proud of our MSc DBIM students with the work they produced during the two days, and the staff from Fujitsu and Welsh Water were impressed as well with how talented they were and with the way they professionally and collaboratively engaged with the challenge. I am also delighted that our Hackathon’s workshop-design and outcomes are being widely shared within Fujitsu as an excellent example of mutually beneficial events between industry and higher education institutions.”

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