The Sandbox: An Interview

As a former participant of the Sandbox Challenge, I talk about it a lot. Yet, nobody seems to know what it is. This is why I interviewed Mary Rupnik, Student Life Counselor for the Sandbox.

Q. What exactly is the Sandbox?

A.The Sandbox is a place to innovate, to play, to create, to collaborate and to develop student ideas for change. Our mission is to engage students from all disciplines in a problem-solving process for real-world problems where students participate in noncredit activities, developing their own projects and gaining experience.

Q. What is your role in the Sandbox and who else is involved?

A. My role is primarily to engage students in developing teams to identify a problem and seek an innovative solution. Tara Walker, a faculty member from Business Administration, supports Sandbox activities by developing the Skill Builders for the Challenge and building the mentorship from our faculty and community members.

Q. What type of workshops do you offer during the semester?

A. The teams are supported with Skill Builders designed to develop and deepen critical skills for their project such as Ideation, Market Validation and Perfecting the Pitch. These are supported by myself and Tara and we hope to bring other experts into the Sandbox to enhance student exposure to leaders of our school, within the community and in industry. Other activities include the Alumni Entrepreneurial Speaker Series, our first Masterminds hack-a-thon, and a joint field trip with Vanier and Gérald-Godin to Concordia’s District 3 and Shopify innovation hubs in Montreal.

Q. What were the different teams last year? A. During the Winter semester, four teams pitched their idea at the first ever Pitch Event. The Living Wall won the event; they wanted to beautify our walls with a vertical garden and are reiterating their prototype which you can see in the Sandbox. The other teams were Nexchange, a team that was developing a website to digitize the Access Center for John Abbott, JACMAP, an app aimed to ease the stress of the first days of school with a navigation system for the campus, and Stars n Stuff, the team behind the Solar Eclipse event of the first day of classes.

Q.What are the projects in progress this year?

A. We received a dozen innovative project applications and at this point, four teams are moving forward to share their idea and try to win funding to bring the project to the next level. An innovative schedule planner to support student registration, an app for making you look and feel great, an innovative way to maximize affordability for textbooks, and an app to connect friends while on campus are the current ideas going forward.

Q. Why should students sign up for the Sandbox Challenge? A. Students should get involved because it develops individuals through teamwork to build leadership, communication and collaboration skills and ultimately become a changemaker on campus. Students also earn volunteer hours for the S.I.R. Program whereby an annotation appears on their transcript, a valuable highlight for those University, scholarship, bursary and job applications.

For more information about the Sandbox, MIO Mary Rupnik or Tara Walker, or drop by the Sandbox in P-026.

Image Source: Pixabay


Noemi Blom
Office Manager
Originally published in Bandersnatch Vol. 47 Issue 05 on November 8, 2017