It has been a month and a half since the beginning of the semester. Spring break is approaching us slowly. Yet, before students can leave campus for spring break, we have tons of exams, presentations and numerous other activities that have to be completed.
As a junior studying Mechanical Engineering, I am taking IPD (Integrated Product Development) course-ME 211, which is meant to teach engineering and business students how to work in groups and interact in order to develop interesting and useful products. The process of developing products involves a lot of work and incurs certain responsibilities. To start with, each group member has to research into the product it has been assigned to make and investigate the industry to understand the details of how the product should work, and what exactly are consumers expecting from it. Secondly, group members have to share their ideas with their advisors, peer mentors, sponsors, and with each other so that they can come up with further steps and make adequate decisions as to how they should proceed with product development. There are tons of different projects that different groups of students are working on. Innovation, as it was defined to us in the class, happens at the overlap of different engineering and business disciplines. That is why they decide to put us into groups that are comprised of people of different professions. Most of the projects we are assigned to work on are big company projects. As far as I understand, most groups will have a working prototype of their respective products by the end of the year. The reason I cannot discuss the products we are working on in detail is because each student signs a non-disclosure product in the beginning of semester. Yet, what I can say is that some products are meant for mass public use, whereas others target specific groups of people like researchers/scientists, engineers, doctors etc. In any case the process is interesting, because it invokes creativity and besides this is the first time we are actually given freedom to decide what to do with the time we have on our own. Our midterm presentations for this class are starting next week, where we will have to present our progress in the project and show where we are planning to go with it.