Friday, May 23, 2008

Interdisciplinary Product Development at UIC

A couple of nights ago I attended a University of Chicago GSB Roundtable event on an interesting Product Development curriculum offered by The University of Illinois at Chicago. Two of the professors were there, Stephen Melamed and Dr. Albert Page along with Mike Douglass from ELKAY Manufacturing Company, this year’s program sponsor. The program admits 35-45 students for the yearlong course. The students have to commit to the two semesters knowing that the amount of outside-the-classroom work would be substantial. They are divided into teams from 5-8 students mixed from the schools of Art and Design, Engineering, and Business. The students take on a product development challenge to work from problem to prototype in the 30 weeks.

The sponsor supports the program with an investment of $70k - $100k. A problem is presented to the students and they must develop products that address the problem. The sponsor enjoys all the intellectual property coming from the work of the students. ELKAY found the program so valuable they have asked to be put in the rotation to participate again.
Motorola, who participated as an earlier sponsor, has built a lovely facility for the program nearby the campus in Chicago. The professors were quite animated about the new facility, which they moved into at the beginning of the year.
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