Instructor: John Thomas
Suggested prior knowledge: None
Prerequisites: None
Semester(s) Offered: See course list

Current Course Schedule

    Course Description

    Product development (“PD”) is a core competency for any product-oriented company, whether a Fortune 100 firm, a small engineering business, or a technology-based startup. Commercializing innovative new products that create value for customers by solving problems and addressing customer needs is essential to the long-term growth and profitability of most any type of venture.

    This course explores product development principles, practices, and processes used by modern companies to create technology products that deliver value and benefits that customers are willing and able to pay for. The course is presented in three parts. The first part examines product strategy and how companies combine tools like the balanced scorecard to align priorities, initiatives, and strategic direction together with information like core competencies and available resources to identify the types of products to be developed. This includes how to determine what talent is needed to cultivate and retain high-caliber product development teams that can create innovative product designs.

    The second part of the course gets into the tactical level of product design and development, starting with a comprehensive customer and market needs analysis. Critical customer requirements are then defined by engaging methods like design thinking, surveys, and focus groups to ensure a holistic approach. The next step is to create specific product concepts to satisfy those requirements. This enables the PD Team to construct product concept models, simulations, and prototypes that can be evaluated by customers to ensure the team is on the right path.

    The third part of the course considers the business side of product development, beginning with product marketing, management, and pricing strategies and leading to topics like product service, support, and upgrades. All product development initiatives require funding, and the course details how to estimate costs, forecast revenue, and create a financial business case to present to the senior management or potential investors.

    Throughout the product development process, Product Development Managers must also consider the impact of their products on society and the natural environment. The course therefore integrates sustainable product design principles, practices, and methodologies like cradle-to-cradle design, and the rapidly evolving model of production and consumption known as the “Circular Economy” with a focus on durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling.

    Skills and Knowledge Gained  

    • Understand why product and technology strategy is critical to successful product development.
    • Apply product development strategies, methods, and tools to generate new product or service ideas.
    • Analyze different product development processes and how each may be applied to support strategy.
    • Design and communicate product specifications based on comprehensive customer requirements.
    • Create and present a financial business plan for senior management or potential investors.

    Why should you take this course? 

    This is a practical course that allows you to experience product development first-hand. By the end of this course, you will have:

    • created your own innovative idea for a product.
    • assessed your idea’s commercial potential.
    • converted your concept into digital and physical prototypes.
    • presented your product prototype in a class-wide “tradeshow” event, complete with very persuasive marketing materials!

    *Note: This page is periodically updated. For the most up-to-date course information for the current term, log into the Buff Portal or go to the Course Search (for those without 
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