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Copenhagen Business School

Students close a digital teaching gap at CBS: “It’s a way for us to become fit for the future”

Felix Riess and Bent Carl Christensen have together with a group of CBS students founded TechLabs. A students organization that aims to improve students' tech-skills. (Photo: Anne M. Lykkegaard)

The new student organization TechLabs wants to equip CBS students with basic knowledge in artificial intelligence, web development and data science. “Microsoft Office skills aren’t enough anymore,” says one of the founders, who thinks that CBS is lagging behind when it comes to teaching tech-related courses.

News |   28. Aug 2019

Anne M. Lykkegaard

Journalist

Today, more and more jobs require some knowledge of different digital technologies, like artificial intelligence, big data or programming. So what do you do, if you don’t think your university is equipping you with that knowledge? Well, you start up your own ‘school.’

A group of six students from CBS have founded the new student organization TechLabs, which aims to teach CBS students coding skills within the fields of artificial intelligence, data science and web development.

“Microsoft Office is simply not sufficient anymore. Having knowledge about the different digital technologies out there is a way to become fit for the future,” says Felix Riess, who studies the Master in Management of Innovation and Business Development and is the co-founder of TechLabs.

This autumn, TechLabs will enroll the first class of students who can choose one of three tracks: web development, data science and artificial intelligence. During a semester, the students admitted to the tracks will complete online courses within their field of interest, meet and discuss with other students, talk to experts from the industry and finish their chosen track with a project.

“It’s not that the students are full stack developers when they’ve done 16 weeks at TechLabs, but they get an understanding of what’s feasible with the technologies available. And they’ll be able to ask the right and critical questions and not just follow the lead,” says Felix Riess.

Both Felix Riess and his co-founder Bent Carl Christensen, who studies the Master in International Business, find it frustrating that CBS doesn’t have courses that give them a basic understanding of some of the new digital technologies available out there.

“When I went on exchange, I saw that my new university had courses about programming, but I wasn’t allowed to take them because it didn’t match my education at CBS, which I thought was a little weird,” says Bent Carl Christensen.

Felix Riess adds:

“I think CBS is lagging behind here, for sure,” he says and explains that they’ve been in contact with the Associate Dean of Digital Transformation, Till Winkler and the Dean of Education, Gregor Halff about the issue.

“CBS is actually aware of this, and we are grateful that our initiative has been welcomed by CBS officials,” says Felix Riess.

TechLabs is your tech buddy 

Bent Carl Christensen and Felix Riess are, however, not the only ones who thought CBS needed more tech-related courses.

In a short period of time, CBS Students received several inquiries from students with similar ideas on establishing a student organization focusing on teaching students tech-related skills.

Felix Riess and Bent Carl Christensen have both taken introductory courses in the coding language Python. They hope other students who are beginners like themselves will do the same. (Photo: Anne M. Lykkegaard)
Here's the whole TechLabs team. (Photo: TechLabs)

“The same day I approached CBS Students with my idea, they received an email about the exact same thing from another student,” explains Bent Carl Christensen.

So instead of establishing several student organizations with the same aim, CBS Students brought the students together, and this was how TechLabs came into being.

Felix Riess explains that TechLabs’ foundation is based on three pillars with the aim of creating a whole ecosystem around the organization.

The first pillar is the online courses that are handpicked to match the individual student’s needs. The second pillar is the community that naturally rises from the organization. And the third is the project that the students will have to showcase at the end of the semester.

“As it is right now, many students might be interested in taking online courses within these fields, but they have to pay for them, and the completion rate is less than 10 percent sometimes. It’s like going to the gym after New Year’s. If you don’t have a buddy to drag along, it’s hard to stay motivated,” says Bent Carl Christensen.

Felix Riess explains that the partnership with Milestone Systems allows, among other things, TechLabs to offer the coding classes at no cost to the students. The courses offered have been specifically selected and verified by tech-savvy students from the University of Münster in Germany where Felix Riess did his bachelor.

TechLabs is just like an appetizer for things that are tech-related

Felix Riess

“We basically just want to help students who are in the same situation as us,” says Felix Riess and continues:

“Also, we ask students to finish off their semester at Techlabs with a project. Applying what they’ve learned in this way helps students to understand how to use these competences.”

During the semester, the enrolled students will be invited to different talks, debates and workshops with partners and experts. Furthermore, each of the three tracks is paired with a few mentors who have a deep knowledge of the field.

Creating a tech community

Felix Riess and Bent Carl Christensen have both taken introductory courses in the coding language Python. They hope that TechLabs can offer other CBS students, who are beginners just like themselves, a place to starte their own digital journey, so that they can continue on their own from there.

“TechLabs is for everyone with just a slight interest in tech. TechLabs is just like an appetizer for things that are tech-related. We hope that the enrolled students will see that it’s not rocket science and that there are other students out there with similar interests,” says Felix Riess and explains that other members of the TechLabs team have way more experience with different technologies than them.

Bent Carl Christensen adds:

“Hopefully, we can create a strong tech community here at CBS.”

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