Interdisciplinary Product Development (IPD) at UIC is a two-semester curriculum that integrates the latest technologies and best practices for innovative product development. The course combines Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, and MBA/Marketing students from all three colleges to work together in cross-functional teams to research and develop new product concepts. The course focuses on the early stages of the product development process, from identifying market opportunities through initial prototyping. Eschewing the old sequential model of product development, in which a design idea originates in a business unit, is given visual form by industrial design, and then passed off to engineering, this course teaches current best practices of true integration of all three disciplines from the very earliest stages of product development.
The course is team taught by faculty from the three colleges. Each year, a corporate sponsor is recruited to serve as the client, and provides the financial support to incorporate outside resources and materials not normally available to an academic environment. Funding is used to cover the course expenses associated with paying for professionally conducted market research, team building exercises, innovation training, rapid prototyping, materials and supplies, as well as other significant course expenses. The client company, in association with the IPD faculty, also provides an interesting and challenging assignment that will result in the research, conception and development of innovative product concepts for the client.
Instead of a venture model of entrepreneurialism, for which UIC’s business school is well known, Entrepreneurial Product Development introduces students to the licensing model. As opposed to the substantial effort and risk involved in starting and running a business, students will learn processes and strategies for licensing their new product ideas to others responsible for manufacturing and selling in return for royalties. The course leads students through an 8-step process (from ideation to licensing negotiation), challenging them to develop their own ideas and to pitch them efficiently and effectively to potential licensees.
The mission of UIC’s Department of BioEngineering is to create an environment where its students can learn the principles of safely applying engineering technology to living systems. The interdisciplinary course of study provides a thorough understanding of engineering, physical science and biological principles that will prepare its graduates for careers in the biomedical industry, admission to top graduate programs, and acceptance in a variety of professional schools (medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy).
The UIC Department of BioEngineering has unique resources because of its close affiliation with the clinical and research programs of the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and the opportunities to intern at major biomedical manufacturers (Abbott, Baxter, Biomet, General Electric, and Siemens, for example) in the Chicago and northwest Indiana areas. Students can easily work at facilities on campus or in the adjoining Illinois Technology Park. Senior design projects, co-op assignments, or academic year internships can also be conducted in Chicagoland biomedical industries.