After being affiliated with the Master of Product Development (MPD) throughout the program’s ten-year history at Carnegie Mellon University, the Tepper School of Business has now officially joined the School of Design and the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a third partner in offering the interdisciplinary degree.
“The Master of Product Development program was one of the first of its kind when it began a decade ago, and by merging with Tepper, it’s now the only program of its type to be represented by three highly-esteemed colleges,” said Jonathan Cagan, Master of Product Development co-director and professor of mechanical engineering.
Indeed, the full inclusion of Tepper into the MPD program opens up a wealth of resources to students, who stand to benefit from the integration and support of each discipline. From the aesthetic perspective of design to the more mechanical aspects of engineering, Tepper’s presence now serves to round out the curriculum with a focus on making products sustainable and marketable in today’s economic climate.
“This program gives its graduates the ability to keep the big picture in mind,” said Peter Boatwright, associate professor of marketing in the Tepper School of Business. “Students are challenged to not only identify product development opportunities and the needs and problems within them, they’re also given the skills to fulfill those needs and solve those problems. “
Hands-on experience in the realm of product development is key to the MPD program, which features the Integrated Product Development course to provide students the valuable experience of its custom-designed four-module structure. Working with industry sponsors throughout the duration of the course, students focus on “identifying, understanding, conceptualizing and realizing new product opportunities” under the guidance of instructors from the three foundation disciplines of engineering, design, and business.
“Although product development has an ultimately tangible outcome, it begins with just an idea,” said Eric Anderson, Master of Product Development co-director and associate professor in the School of Design.
The ideas conceptualized in the Integrated Product Development course quite often take flight with the sponsor companies, many of whom have patented the ideas of MPD students, eventually taking the resultant products to market. Navistar for example patented well over a dozen of the products dreamed up by Master of Product Development students over the past few years and students from the 2010 class had the opportunity to influence the design of Nissan Motor Company’s first electric car, the Leaf. Nissan’s sponsorship of the MPD program came as a direct result of alumna Megan Stanton (MPD ’05) who knew that her company had much to gain from the fresh and inventive perspective of MPD students. Currently the associate director of business design at BMW Group DesignworksUSA, Stanton cited the ability to work with sponsor companies and the interdisciplinary nature of the program as large advantages to her as she embarked upon her post-graduate career.
“My network doubled during my last year in the program,” said Stanton. “The skills I acquired during my time there have been applicable and practical in even the largest of corporate environments.”
With Stanton and a wealth of successful graduates to its credit, the Master of Product Development program proves that it remains on the cutting edge by constantly refining its methodologies and presenting a distinctive blend of courses from three separate, high-caliber colleges.
“The Master of Product Development program offers a valuable experience to anyone with a curious mind and a passion for product development, “ said Anderson. “We often see students with engineering and design backgrounds who are seeking to deepen their skill sets, but with the full inclusion of Tepper, we can offer people with business backgrounds a unique and innovative alternative to an MBA.”