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The New Product Design And Business Development Program: Engineers And Business Students Join With Industry To Create New Products

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.533.1 - 4.533.6

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Paper Authors

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William Durfee

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3325

The New Product Design and Business Development Program: Engineers and Business Students Join With Industry to Create New Products William K. Durfee Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Minnesota

I. Introduction

New products are the driver behind most successful businesses and the key to maintaining a competitive position in today's market. The University of Minnesota has launched an initiative which creates a novel educational model for teaching the principles of product design and development. The goals of this effort are: 1. To train future leaders of product design and business venture teams. 2. To improve the process of product design and business development through the understanding and development of new product design methodologies and entrepreneurial strategies . 3. To design new products and business opportunities for sponsoring companies. The program represents a new partnership between the University and industry to advance the state of product design and business development. This paper describes the program, discusses essential issues for university-industry collaboration, and provides examples of projects undertaken to date.

II. Program Description

New Product Design and Business Development is a graduate level course offered jointly in the Carlson School of Management, the Institute of Technology, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. The course brings together students, faculty and representatives from client business firms to design and develop new products and business plans. Teams of six to ten students, half second year MBA's and half graduate level engineers, work together for the entire academic year (September to June) to develop a product and business concept. By June, each team is expected to deliver a working physical prototype of the product and an extensive business plan which details production, marketing and financial considerations for the product. Between four and six projects are undertaken each year.

The coaches for the teams include faculty from marketing, operations and entrepreneurial studies within the Carlson School, and from mechanical, electrical and biomedical engineering within the Institute of Technology. Additional coaching is provided by executives, managers and technical personnel from the sponsoring company. The coaches provide instruction in business creation, product design and product development, and have overall responsibility for seeing that the team sets appropriate, realistic goals and proceeds towards them on a timely schedule.

The project undertaken by the team must be selected carefully by the company in consultation with the course faculty to provide an appropriate educational experience for the students, to provide benefit to the company and to ensure the maximum chance for success. The general area of the product should be known, but specific product requirements should not be dictated to enable full exploration of market opportunities by the product development team. The project should have significant marketing challenges associated with it - in contrast to minor product line extensions - because student and faculty skilled in marketing are part of the team. The project should have significant engineering content - in contrast to clothing, books or paper clips - because skilled

Durfee, W. (1999, June), The New Product Design And Business Development Program: Engineers And Business Students Join With Industry To Create New Products Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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