The Journey to 100 Projects and Beyond

June 29, 2022

Sidney Shapiro, Professor and Coordinator of the Business and Crime Analytics programs at Cambrian College, and Jason Corcoran, Instructor and Coordinator of the graduate certificate program in Health Analytics at Cambrian College, have been working collaboratively to find new ways to connect employers with students and create new opportunities for them. 

Following the onboarding of the Riipen platform at Cambrian College, in the summer of 2020, Sidney and Jason quickly took the platform by storm to unearth projects for their students for the upcoming fall semester. We recently sat down with them to know more about their impressive journey to 100 projects and hear their thoughts on the value that the Riipen platform provides them. 

Where They Were

Prior to using Riipen, Sidney and Jason would leverage their extensive network of contacts to find capstone projects for their students. Wanting to provide their students with an opportunity to gain real work experience before they were faced with high stakes, such as in the workplace, Sidney and Jason looked for projects that were appropriate for their students and matched their skills. This worked well for them with smaller cohorts. However, with the significant increase in the number of students enrolled in their programs over the years, it became progressively difficult and time-consuming for them to find and secure projects for their students on a sustainable basis. 

Riipen’s Impact

Since having the Riipen platform at their disposal to help them in their efforts, the scope of the projects they find for their students hasn't really changed, but what did are the opportunities. To be able to access different projects, more global projects, and the variety of projects available right at their fingertips made a huge impact. 

Besides increasing their reach in terms of projects, the number of projects that are available on a more global and international scale is also a very interesting aspect to them. “Working locally is really important, but it just gives us more variety and more opportunity for the students,” said Jason. ”It gives us a broader scope of either areas and domains that they [students] can work within.” 

As Sidney and Jason work on a lot of projects every semester, they’re very active on the platform, and interview potential partners on a weekly basis, often filling up their project needs six months in advance due to the high demand for the kind of work their students do. They will talk to all the clients in advance, making sure that everyone is on the same page, sending them briefing notes so that by the time the project actually rolls around, everyone knows exactly what to do in order to make the project successful. They also make sure to do the same with their students to ensure that they are well prepared to give their best.

Among the factors that motivate Sidney and Jason to leverage the platform and to scale up the number of projects to offer their students, aside from the sheer number of projects available to them, is the support they receive from the Riipen team. “I think the biggest thing for us is the support that Riipen gives us,” said Sidney. “If there's a problem, Riipen gets involved immediately, and that makes a huge difference for us. We could be apprised of a problem and have it fixed the same day. And that means that our goal of keeping all the projects on track and making sure they're successfully completed is being carried out all the time, and that's something that's at the forefront of what Riipen does.” Jason also shared his appreciation for having everything localized in one central place. “You're not communicating through multiple different platforms, everything's in the same spot and it just makes it so much easier to access, easier to organize, and easier to work with.”

How’s It Going

To date, Sidney and Jason have sourced over 115 projects in a variety of industries, ranging from projects with 3DHEALS, a company providing a platform for innovators and startups in the space of healthcare 3D printing and bioprinting, thus providing students with an experience in a cutting edge field of medicine and get exposure to things that they would never be able to do otherwise, to projects with Stock Car Fan Nation, an eCommerce platform designed to drive NASCAR fan and brand engagement through discounts, rewards and sponsorships. 

A true testament to the quality of Sidney and Jason's students' work, and the structure that they've built into their courses, is the fact that many employers want to repeat the experience over and over, and do so semester after semester. This is true for SEFA, LLC (Supply & Equipment Foodservice Alliance), a nationwide network of leading supply and equipment dealers and manufacturers. SEFA worked with Sidney and Jason's students' five times already, and the students carried out some really transformative work that really changed the way that their organization operates.

What Lies Ahead 

As Jason mentions, “I think it's really just continuing to provide good quality opportunities for the students, and to continue to integrate and connect organizations that have a need. Organizations that are either looking to answer some questions, or change their way of doing business… Making those connections in the field, and ensuring student success.“

For Sidney and Jason, their most important, if not only metric, is student jobs. If a student in a capstone project can work for somebody for two months, and get to a point where the employer says, “We need to have this person, this is exactly what we're looking for.”, then they know that what they've done throughout the past year has been successful. As they strive to create a world-class program that can compete with any other college and university that teaches really advanced topics that are of immediate need in industry, the fact that their students are happy with the program, despite the high homework to class ratio of any program, and get jobs, translates into success. 

Thank you to Sidney and Jason for sharing their experiences and thoughts on Riipen. To learn more about how you can get started with Riipen as a student, educator or employer, visit the website here. ‍Stay up to date with the latest in higher education, experiential learning, and the future of work, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter, The Riipen Report.