Integrated Product Development (IPD) is an experiential, cross-disciplinary course that puts teams of students from Business, Engineering, Art & Design and Information in an economic competition and competitive product development environment.
This innovative course has been featured on CNN and written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Businessweek. The course is hosted by the Tauber Institute for Global Operations and is taught jointly by faculty members Eric Svaan of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Stephanie Tharp from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.
"Eric Svaan and Stephanie Tharp bring the energy, know-how and set the bar high. The product and service challenges are creative and bold, the process is rigorous, the methods taught are broad, the critique is direct and the sense of learning and accomplishment is high. It has been my pleasure to be involved with the IPD program." Parrish Hanna, Global Director, Interaction & Ergonomics, Ford Motor Company.
In this course, each team acts as an independent firm in competition with other teams (firms). The instructors announce a product class and each team must design and build a fully functional product within that class. The product class is broad enough to allow a wide variety of design solutions.
Given the product class, each team must work through the process of market research, concept generation and selection, technical development, production process design, pricing, inventory stocking and advertising. Teams must design, build and compete with a real, fully functional, customer-ready product. Teams compete with their products through two channels. The first is a web-based “trade show” where teams promote their products via student-designed websites, and people from around the world log into the IPD trade show to vote. A team’s market share (and sales revenues) is computed from the share of total votes it gets nationally. The second, a physical trade show will be held in April. Here, members of the community are invited to view the physical products, listen to teams’ promotions, and vote for their favorites. Again, market shares and revenues are computed based on these votes.
IPD is an energy-intensive, 6-credit course (students get 3 credits in 2 of the following 3 disciplines: business, art & design, engineering). The class meeting and location is TBD, but most of the work is done outside of class to design and build products.
Reasons to take this class:
- You will work in truly interdisciplinary teams of students from across campus, including designers, engineers, MBAs and School of Information MSIs.
- You will respond to a design challenge by developing a new product and building a business model to support its realization and market entry.
- You will practice skills in design thinking and methodology, market research, physical prototyping, digital making, and product engineering.
- You will participate in economic competition as you show off your products in On-Line and Physical Trade Shows.
- This experience is a great story to tell to prospective employers, who are looking for people with the skills you will build in IPD.
Ryan Kennedy (BSE/MSE-IOE '17): “This class has everything from business fundamentals to scaling up production to wiring and soldering with microcontrollers to thinking about design and wearability from the customer’s perspective,” he explains. “It also places an emphasis on teamwork and working across functions, which I believe to be critical today. As an engineer, you are bound to work with people who have different backgrounds.”
Besides the development work, the IPD course and Trade Show provided Samuel Dion (BSE-ME and MSE-IOE '17) with an opportunity to hone skills beyond the usual engineering focus. “By participating in IPD, I have broadened my perspective on how to tackle complex problems while developing my hard and soft skills,” he explains. “I have developed numerous projects during my engineering education, but this experience usually stops when the product has been created. I am excited to work on the brand and convey our story to consumers. The trade show will be an exciting conclusion to an enlightening and fun experience.”
Dan Muir (Dual MBA/MSE-IOE ‘03): "To say that I am using what I learned in IPD would be an understatement. I graduated with a dual degree (MBA and MSE, IOE) in 2003. I took the IPD class in 2002. Dr Lovejoy was my instructor. Our product during the course was to design a chair – simple in concept but brutal in competition. I believe my team name was “Sling Chair” but it was a long time ago! The class was different than any other course I have ever taken – or any corporate training for that matter – in that it required a student to wear multiple hats at various times throughout the course. And then put on and take off those hats as required, depending on what the current challenge was. Each student had to understand design, marketing, sales, customer needs, manufacturing, cost control, etc. The list goes on. And if you failed to take into account one aspect, you paid the price in sales.
I currently work for Emdeon. My official title is Director of Production Services. Emdeon is in the business of simplifying healthcare. The easiest way to explain this – think about each time you go to the doctor. Not only does your doctor need to know who your insurance company is, but they need all the information about your plan, what they will get paid for , what they won’t, what your deductible is, what your plan is, etc. We help medical providers do all the electronically – turning what used to be an extremely high dollar administrative cost into pennies. And just how does something like IPD fit into that?
My current role is actually in IT. I have all the support teams for all production applications across the company – more than 300 applications supporting over 60 services to move more than four billion transactions per year. The ONLY way I can actually support a service that we provide is to truly understand what the customer expectation of that service is. For some services, we are essentially a manufacturing environment – moving a product through multiple processes to get to a finished good. I wear a product improvement hat every day – what can we do better, what can we streamline, what needs to improve so that the transaction move through our processes quickly and correctly ALL the time. For our existing services I am constantly updating what the customer needs and turning that into Service Agreements. I have to work with marketing, sales, product and business owners to ensure that where I put my people is actually where our customers need support. For our new services I get engaged upfront in the design stages. My team is critical to support decisions that end up affecting what market we play in and how we release these services. And I get to define how the service moves from concept to production – as well as getting the final signoff for production ready.
Without some of the knowledge I picked up from IPD, I would be FAR less able to make these decisions in a manner that set the business up for success! It was an awesome class from an awesome instructor." (Dan is now the Vice President - IT for Cotiviti).