Diana Schnetgöke


Giving students a practical learning experience

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An extensive partnership project spanning several months between Deutsche Telekom IT GmbH (represented by the Nakamoto Blockchain Team and the Robotics & AI service hub) and Bielefeld University took a refreshingly different approach to the topic of electronic signature applications (or ELSA for short). For the three most successful ELSA teams, the project wrapped up with an on-stage presentation at the Founders Foundation in Bielefeld. 

Over 100 students of informatics accepted the challenge as part of their BSc studies. Their goal: To take a completely new approach to designing an electronic signature application and implement the app in real-world conditions.

Group picture of Hochschulkooperation ELSA 2021

ELSA university cooperation - students immerse themselves in IT practice

The challenge

It's something we all do almost daily: sign contracts, consent forms, applications and many other documents besides – all of which still relies on us putting pen to paper. Businesses in particular face the additional challenges of disseminating the documents and subsequently collecting the signatures. 

How much time and money could be saved by digitizing all of these steps and moving them to the browser? Not to mention how much easier it would be. 

The approach

The students were mixed up and put together in random teams with the goal of achieving the widest possible spread of solution approaches. Regular touch points over a period of several months gave them the opportunity to touch base and, e.g., run through customer dialog simulations. At each meeting the goal was to present a project update, find out answers to questions, and of course receive constructive criticism from the colleagues at Telekom IT. 

We are thrilled to see the confidence with which the students took up the challenge and how innovative their approaches are. At the end we had 10 different outcomes from 10 different teams, all of which were exceptionally good. Simon Schulz, project sponsor at Telekom IT

A win-win situation

The ELSA project is a real win-win situation both for the students and for Telekom IT. Students had the opportunity to design a highly technical business application under the most realistic conditions possible, see behind the scenes of the Group's complex IT architecture, and obtain open feedback from real-world experts from start to finish. Courtesy of the practical insights into this exciting field and the opportunity to network with experts, participants have opened the door to potential future internships or topics for their final theses.

Telekom IT benefited from a multitude of creative and pragmatic ideas on electronic signatures, all contributed by digital natives. 

All in all, the ELSA student project was a resounding success. Telekom IT was happy to support the partnership with 5,000 euros in prize money for the best three teams and is already excited to see what the next university partnerships hold.