For a high-tech company like Canoo, the presence of young talent is an essential ingredient for maintaining innovative momentum. Canoo is supporting young computer science talent in various ways. We offer internships for computer science students and we cooperate in bacherlor- and master-thesis projects with universities and colleges. Some of our senior engineers perform teaching roles at the Universities of Basel and Zurich. And last but not least, Canoo has recently begun directly sponsoring especially promising students at the newly founded Kalrsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), which is a joint venture between the former University of Karlsruhe and the Karlsruhe Research Centre (Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe). The similarities to MIT are intentional.
The program Canoo is supporting is unique in a number of ways. For example, Students do not qualify for funding merely by attaining excellent grades, but instead by proposing personal software projects. The program therefore not only supports the students, but also innovation. Two projects are already under way (http://www.informatik.kit.edu/begabtenstiftung_informatik_karlsruhe.php?PHPSESSID=3acaa8b13db475402a9569d9fd48d78b): Student Benjamin Klatt is in the process of setting up a project for high-schools. Teams of pupils are implementing a small CRM solution using an open source content management system as platform. A web-site is due to be set up, on which all the project teams will publish the results of their work. Benjamin will be providing the software framework that students take as starting point for the project, as well as the documentation and guidelines, which enable teachers to undertake such projects at schools. This project addresses a very important issue: How to motivate young people to study CS.
Christian Vetter is developing an open source navigation system. He claims that his routing algorithms are faster than those that can be found in other commercial and other open source solutions. Both projects are terrific examples of how theoretical studies can be combined with practical work, and how students can be encouraged to come up with projects that go beyond the university’s curriculum. I personally believe Swiss universities should take a close look at the KIT model for supporting students with innovative ideas.