Product Realization for Global Opportunities: Learning Collaborative Design in an International Setting

Matthew M. Mehalik, Michael Lovell, and Larry Shuman
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA

This paper discusses lessons learned from an innovative course–Product Realization for Global Opportunities–first offered in Spring 2007 at the University of Pittsburgh. Its purpose was to further infuse both sustainability and product realization into the undergraduate engineering curriculum. We have done this by creating a unique product realization course in which E-teams of students from University of Pittsburgh and the University at Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil attempt to develop products for sustainable human development. In particular, the course addresses the product realization process in the context of sustainability for the developing world. In doing this, we have taken advantage of the School of Engineering’s rapidly expanding interest in sustainability led by the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative (MSI), a growing relationship with UNICAMP, and close involvement from the University’s International Business Center and the Center for Latin American Studies (both Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers). Further, students use our Swanson Institute for Product Innovation to develop prototypes. Course development was supported by a programme grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). This paper presents findings from surveys conducted at the end of the course including an entrepreneurship questionnaire developed by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). The course produced significant increases in students’ self-perceptions of skills needed to become an entrepreneur and in financial dimensions of entrepreneurship as well as idea generation, product pricing, and intellectual property concerns.


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