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Sandbox

Sandbox is a design thinking and digital product management programme for master’s students at the University of Tartu. The programme provides a unique opportunity to engage in real-life challenges of companies, enhancing professional skills, and delivering value at the same time.

Sandbox is an experimental playground where interdisciplinary student teams can test their bold ideas in a safe environment. We foster innovation through respect and trust in each other, encouraging co-creation and collaboration.

Sandbox programme was born in 2018 when we started developing a specialisation module for product design and management in collaboration with digital product managers from several Estonian companies. Today they still contribute to the programme by guest lecturing, mentoring and providing challenges to industry project courses. We also thank HITSA for supporting the development of the programme, then called “Product Design and Management Specialisation Module Development in the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu”.

Sandbox programme provides opportunities for:

  • Developing digital product management skills in master's level
  • Introducing the role and regular tasks of a product manager through real-life examples from companies
  • Practical problem-based learning in collaboration with companies
  • Interdisciplinary cooperation between students and networking with practicing product managers
  • Problem discovery and prototype validation for companies

Sandbox for companies

Digital Product Management Industry Project

In the Industry Project, interdisciplinary teams of master’s students are formed and provided with a problem statement by Sandbox partner companies in order to find solutions to pressing or strategic challenges. Problem validation, product strategy building, solution prototyping, and testing allows students to implement the knowledge they have acquired within the prior courses in a real-life project. 

Digital Product Management Industry Project is structured into eight progress checkpoints that take place every other week throughout the semester:

  • Checkpoint 1:  Introduction to course methodology
  • Checkpoint 2:  Company problem statements, team formation
  • Checkpoint 3:  Problem, market & user research
  • Checkpoint 4:  Product vision
  • Checkpoint 5:  Product strategy and metrics
  • Checkpoint 6:  Ideation & solution sketching
  • Checkpoint 7:  Prototyping
  • Checkpoint 8:  User testing & iterating
  • Checkpoint 9:  Final presentations

During these checkpoints, the course facilitators and partner companies give feedback to the student teams about their project progress and provide instructions for the next steps in the process.

In order to become a Sandbox programme partner, a fee applies. This financial support from the partner companies allows the Sandbox team to further develop and refine the programmeto improve design thinking and digital product management education at the University of Tartu. Benefits for partner companies are:

  • more visibility of the company among IT students and the UT Delta community;
  • validation of the problem statement and new product ideas as part of the project course – the intellectual property created will be transferred to the partner company;
  • opportunity for the partner company's employees to advance their own innovation knowledge and skills through the project course participation and mentoring the student teams;
  • fostering the development of future digital product managers who will be able to carry out successful product development projects.

We intake new companies twice a year, in the beginning of spring and autumn semesters.

If your company is interested in joining Sandbox programme, write an email to sandbox@ut.ee.

We are also always open to guest lecturers who wish to give a talk on topics related to product management and design thinking. If you are interested in joining Sandbox programme as a guest lecturer, write an email to sandbox@ut.ee.

Partner companies who have participated in Sandbox programme:

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Sandbox for students

Sandbox programme facilitates the development of creative design thinking and digital product management skills. Six courses in digital product design and management are offered. Three of them are project courses (Global Digital Innovation Project, Digital Product Design Introductory Project and Digital Product Management Industry Project) that are carried out in the form of problem-based learning i.e. by finding and resolving real-life problems.

Course code: LTAT.05.011
Amount of credits: 3 ECTS
Schedule: Autumn 2022 


The focus of this course is to allow students to get first-hand experience of conducting a product management project, understanding the complexities of such projects and to prepare them for the remainder of the master module through a near real-life experience. Topics covered by the course include problem analysis and market research; product ideation and vision; product strategy and metrics; sketching and prototyping; project presentation.

Course code: MTAT.03.325
Amount of credits: 6 ECTS
Schedule: Autumn semester


This course introduces a range of methods for managing software products. The course covers the entire life-cycle of software products, from identifying customer needs, the validation of initial ideas, the design of a financially viable business model, to the planning, release and ongoing management of software products. The course introduces techniques for business model generation, business case analysis, prioritisation, product "road-mapping" and software release planning.

Course code: LTAT.05.007
Amount of credits: 6 ECTS
Schedule: Autumn semester


This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of Human Computer Interaction with a focus on identifying and deploying methods for interface and experience design, development and evaluation. It will also provide them with an insight into topics beyond traditional desktop interfaces.

Course code: LTAT.05.022
Amount of credits: 3+3 ECTS
Schedule: Autumn and/or Spring semester


The aim of this course is to give students an overview of different ways and practical challenges of software product management based on examples from different types of software development companies.

Course code: LTAT.05.024
Amount of credits: 6 ECTS
Schedule: Autumn and Spring semester


This is a collboration course with inno.space, a design factory from Hochschule Mannheim, Germany. In this course, the students work in interdisciplinary and international teams on the projects provided by the partner companies from the German and the Estonian side.

Course code: LTAT.05.019
Amount of credits: 6 ECTS
Schedule: Autumn and Spring semester


Interdisciplinary student teams will apply design thinking and digital product management methods to solve the tasks presented by the partner companies. The project will cover the following phases: problem and market research; product ideation and vision; product strategy and metrics; sketching and prototyping; project presentation.

It was very beneficial to experience the different approaches from the different teams and how different people work. I was happy to bring my creative abilities out. Also, the creative methods by the facilitators are very enjoyable and drive creativity in ways other courses/modules don't facilitate.

Andrew Bennett

Sandbox space

Sandbox programme runs in a 300 square meter space that offers diverse and creative study and work environment at the Delta Centre of the University of Tartu. The goal of the Sandbox space and programme is to inspire students to generate and test their ideas in a supportive environment where making mistakes is not considered a failure but a step towards innovative solutions.

Design Factory Global Network

Since 2018, Sandbox is a member of Design Factory Global Network (DFGN). DFGN is a global network of innovation hubs in universities and research organisations, which aims to create change in the world of learning and research through passion-based culture and effective problem solving. All the members of the DFGN focus in their actions on the local community as well as international co-operation, which provides students with the opportunity to participate in global design and product development projects. DFGN as a community is first and foremost a shared understanding of how to spark and support innovation.

Stay in touch!

Follow Sandbox on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.

Maria Laanelepp
Institute of Computer Science
Administration
Project Manager
r 3092
Maria Laanelepp
Institute of Computer Science
Administration
Project Manager
r 3092
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