Originally from La Nucía in Spain, I am a third-year Dual Degree Business Administration and International Relations student at IE University. I am a member of the Honours Program, and took part in the Honours Program Challenge alongside the rest of my team.
This year’s edition was organized by Amazon Alexa, the leading AI-powered virtual assistant, and we had to design a new way to use Alexa’s technology to improve higher education.
Alexa, reinvent higher education
A determined and motivated student, Ángela is a member of IE University’s Honours Program, and this year she participated in the Honours Program challenge and was part of the winning team. Designed in collaboration with Amazon, the competition called for groups of students to develop the best way to use Alexa’s innovative voice technology to reinvent higher education. The students were able to target any stakeholder at IE University, from students and teachers to cleaning staff and Hub personnel, and chose whether to build their solution for the new IE Tower or the online Liquid Learning environment.
The competition was split into four phases. Beginning with the preparation phase, students reviewed the material submitted by Amazon Alexa and got to grips with the competition brief. Then, the challenge was officially launched, with professionals delivering speeches to the participants. Mentor week came next, before the competition came to a close with student groups giving their final presentations.
The students’ tasks consisted of developing an idea that would be useful, while also viable and feasible. This meant the project had to be both innovative but also practical, requiring students to specify how it could be implemented and whether it would be economically and technically possible.
Ángela’s team faced a variety of challenges. At the beginning of the competition, her team came up with a number of different and creative ideas. The first challenge was to make a quick choice, select the best idea and channel all of their energy into its execution. Her team’s project focused on education in the classroom, and they considered what would be the best way to promote seamless communication between professors and students. And so Alexita was born—a teacher’s assistant that takes care of all routine tasks. Connected to the relevant professor’s Blackboard, Alexita would be able to open documents, start a Zoom meeting, publish announcements and deadlines, and even place students into groups.
In Ángela’s eyes, the most important reason for her team’s success in the Amazon Alexa Challenge was her amazing colleagues. They worked well together and teamwork was fundamental to each meeting. She is proud and thankful of her teammates, namely Alberto Lazarov, Maria Morales, Humberto Bravo, Ana Domingo, Lea Mathies and Beatriz Funes.
Overall, the challenge taught Ángela that hard work, confidence and teamwork is key to success in every part of life. And when it comes to academic success, she believes that time management, motivation and concentration are vital. In Ángela’s opinion, the basis for all of these elements is organization and balance. She would encourage other students to organize their schedules so they have time to study, but also for themselves and social activities. Ángela observes that balance between everything is the key to success. With studying, she notes that there’s no perfect method, and students need to figure out what works best for them.
When it comes to honors students, Ángela notes that each one is unique. She doesn’t believe that there is a “perfect” profile, but thinks that every honors student must be organized, dedicated and persevering. She believes that social skills are necessary, too, as students must be able to communicate easily with others and speak confidently in public.
The Honours Program has helped Ángela appreciate the myriad of opportunities that stem from academic success and being at such an innovative University. She believes that the Program has helped her and other students realize that hard work will always pay off, no matter what path you take in life. In her case, she says that the Honours Program proves that determination and achievements are acknowledged and rewarded.
If she had to summarize the Honours Program, Ángela would say that it’s an amazing experience that helped her learn new things and meet and work with interesting people, while challenging and motivating her. Overall, she believes it’s an innovative and exciting approach to education. If she had to summarize the Honours Program, Ángela would say that it’s an amazing experience that helped her learn new things and meet and work with interesting people, while challenging and motivating her. Overall, she believes it’s an innovative and exciting approach to education.