Expanding Development

Expanding Development

Carnegie Mellon University's Master of Product Development (MPD) degree program, a collaborative effort by faculty at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT), the College of Fine Arts (CFA), and the Tepper School of Business, has named the business school as an official partner, including a representative on the oversight committee.

The move is reflective of a growing interest in the program by students with a business background and underscores the role of business in bringing innovation to the marketplace. 

After being affiliated with the MPD throughout the program's ten-year history at CMU, the Tepper School has now officially joined CFA's School of Design and CIT's 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 the Tepper School of Business, it's now the only program of its type to be represented by three highly-esteemed colleges," said Jonathan Cagan, MPD co-director and professor of mechanical engineering.

The full inclusion of the Tepper School 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, the Tepper School'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 the core of the MPD program, which features an Integrated Product Development course in which students work with industry sponsors to identify, understand, conceptualize and realize new product opportunities.

"Although product development has an ultimately tangible outcome, it begins with just an idea," said Eric Anderson, MPD co-director and associate professor in the School of Design.

The ideas conceptualized in the Integrated Product Development course are often used by the industry sponsors. Many have patented the ideas of MPD students, eventually taking the resultant products to market. 

Navistar, for example, has patented more than a dozen of the products dreamed up by MPD 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.

Photo, clockwise from top: Eric Anderson, Jonathan Cagan & Peter Boatwright

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