CECS graduate students chosen for highly selective international ‘bootcamp’

March 5, 2018

Priyal Sheth and Raquel Estrada were chosen to travel to Australia for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

Using a Talent Gateway challenge to sit with a stranger for lunch, graduate student Priyal Sheth grabbed his slice of veggie pizza and tried to find a table in the University Center.

He walked up to a table of four and asked to join them.

“At first they just looked at me and I looked at them. I was so nervous, but they said yes and we started talking and found common ground,” Sheth said. “It was a very valuable lesson.”

More than 10,000 miles away, Sheth used the same lesson—this time applying it to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Sheth and Raquel Estrada, both studying in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, were chosen to go to Australia for the highly selective Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Innovation and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

“I sat in a different spot for nearly every meal,” said Sheth, noting that Estrada, a fellow graduate student working toward the Talent Gateway's M Talent designation, did the same. “There were 130 people there and my goal was to get to know as many of them as possible. The more people you meet, the bigger your network. Since I had already done something like it before, I wasn’t as nervous.”

The bootcamp, which focused on technology-enabled sustainability, chose top students from around the world to work together for a little more than a week—sharing innovative ideas, networking and coming up with creative solutions to international problems.

The students both left the experience more confident, more connected and ready to make a difference.

Check out these photos to view their valuable venture.

Welcome to Australia

“For me, it was a dream to visit Australia. We arrived in Brisbane, but we did not just stay in the city. At a ‘Bootcamp Trek’ before the MIT Bootcamp officially began, we got the chance to spend three days on Lady Elliot Island, which is an eco-resort in the Great Barrier Reef.

“We drank desalinated sea water. We saw how the resort used solar technology for energy. They also collected bio-waste for fertilizer or compost. We saw the preservation of natural resources with innovative approaches. The main lesson I learned in these three days was that sustainability is a task that every person has to do every day. Maybe my generation is not the responsibility of this decline of our natural resources, but we are the responsible to ensure its sustainability for the years to come.” - Raquel Estrada


Experiencing a new world

“At Lady Elliot Island, we spent time in the Great Barrier Reef because the theme of the bootcamp was sustainability, and the Australian government is working hard to sustain life of coral in reef. In collaboration with government, the plan was for bootcamp participants to share ideas on how to protect the reef. They organized several talks by experts and scientists.

“We had an opportunity to snorkel while there so we could see the life in the water they are working to protect. We did an underwater life survey; we had laminated forms that we took into the water with us to mark the sea life we saw. There were starfish, beautiful corals, sea cucumber. I even saw a shark next to me. Surprisingly, I was not afraid. After getting in, I felt that I was part of the marine life.” - Priyal Sheth


Peer review

“We left the island and flew back to Brisbane for the MIT Bootcamp Inauguration Ceremony at Queensland University of Technology. There were so many people from different backgrounds and cultures, 39 countries were represented.

“I had the opportunity to meet many entrepreneurs from all over, students from different universities, passionate biologists, environmental engineers and more. It was an amazing exchange of knowledge and points of view with peers that gave me a sense of what's going on around the world.” - Raquel Estrada


Student-created solutions

“Each day we worked with our five-member group and two coaches to pursue the development of one idea focused on technology-enabled innovation. We did this for 20 hours a day.

“The groups started with primary market research, where we interviewed several people to find a problem. My group interacted with more than 100 people and some were expectant parents: Many mentioned Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. So that is what my team focused on for our project.

“No one on our team studied healthcare, and this is a health issue; but we learned that there are transferable skills that each of us have learned through our education and experiences. For example, I had a Lear internship last year where I learned about smart fabrics.

“We came up with a smart bedsheet made of smart fabric—one that also has a sustainability approach because it has bacteria-resistant properties and frequent washing is not required—that can detect motion, heart rate and more.” - Priyal Sheth


Go out and be the difference

“I want to have an industrial solutions company in the future—to analyze and optimize processes for smaller businesses so I can help them succeed and keep the communities around them strong—and the bootcamp inspired me.

“It helped improve my leadership skills and gave me confidence in expressing myself and my ideas to others when looking to find real solutions to problems.

“We can revolutionize the world and make a positive impact. Anyone is capable to innovate and improve any situation. But we have to start now.” - Raquel Estrada

Back to top of page