Tiger Challenge

Team Projects. Design Thinking. Meaningful Impact.
The Tiger Challenge is a co-curricular program that nurtures the curiosity, creativity, compassion, and courage of Princeton’s students by providing the support they need to address complex, real-world problems through an innovation process known as design thinking. Design Thinking puts the end-users at the heart of innovation and seeks to learn, “what would they find desirable?” To be successful, teams must enter into the lives of others, which makes design thinking a fundamentally human-centered endeavor.

Read about the current teams and the challenges they're tackling

Check out our blog, where the teams and students are sharing their progress and experience in the program. 

Want to get involved as a participant, mentor or partner organization? Email Rafe.

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The Immersive Tiger Challenge Summer:

While the Tiger Challenge goes year round, 5-6 teams of students work intensively for 10 weeks over the summer. These teams receive mentorship and advising from a network of Princeton alumni and friends who are experts in their topic and provide support for the entire journey. They also attend a series of targeted workshops on various topics such as Storytelling, Design Research, Prototyping. For 10 weeks, students experience the life of impact designers. The goal is to equip students with the skills to co-create the world in which they want to live and tackle the most wicked, intractable, complex challenges.

Unique Characteristics and Program Benefits of the Tiger Challenge:

  • Student-driven: Students draw upon their own experiences, passions, and curiosities as the starting points for topics and teams.

  • Authentic project planning: Each team creates a project plan customized to the demands of the team’s topic; for example, a project with a narrow scope could be completed over a summer, while another might require many years.

  • End-to-(no)-end support: Every student team is matched with a dedicated mentorship team who provides support for the entire journey.

  • Connection to community: Sustained interaction between students and end-users cultivates empathy and the size of impact.

  • Maker mindset: Hands-on, iterative work fosters originality and confidence.

  • Collaborative culture: Projects are predicated on the fusion and collaboration of diverse perspectives and skills.

  • Workspace in the Innovation lab: (at 34 Chambers Street) for the duration of the program as well as access to the StoryLab

  • Satisfies practicum requirement for Entrepreneurship Certificate - pre-approved

Additional Information and FAQs:




What types of challenges are the teams tackling? Teams tackle a wide range of challenges from redesigning the Long Spineboard, to helping the affordable housing process in Princeton become more humane. Some topics are proposed by students, others by partner organizations. To propose a challenge, either as a student or partner-organization, please email Rafe.

Is the Tiger Challenge limited to Entrepreneurship certificate students or certain majors and ages? No! All Princeton students are welcome to take part in the Tiger Challenge. We hope to have diverse and interdisciplinary teams from all over the University, and from other colleges and Universities from time-to-time! Interested in participating? Email Rafe.  

How did it all begin? At the suggestion of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee report and President Eisgruber and Provost Lee's response, a group of employees, faculty, students and the design firm, IDEO, posed the question: How might we help equip Princeton students to tackle complex and important challenges? After going through our own Design Thinking project, a few insights emerged:

  • Princeton students want to tackle complex problems, but many don't know where or how to begin. Tiger Challenge Design: forget competitions or cash prizes, instead focus resources on help students discover their passions, form teams, and scope inspiring-yet-viable project plans. 
  • The successful change-makers we met had a clear understanding, and articulation, of self. Tiger Challenge Design: build continual reflection and self-knowledge throughout the experience. 
  • Final grades, papers, pitches, presentations, projects, & competitions subtly imply to students that there's something more important than the impact; when we examined other social impact programs and classes, we discovered a massive graveyard of promising student projects after the end of each program cycle. Tiger Challenge Design: take a milestone-driven approach to impact; think outside the academic calendar and support teams until they reach the goals that they--not the program--set. 

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