Inside the Integrated Design Lab: IDM Cohort Identifies “DFV” Opportunities

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of news features that invite the reader inside IDM’s core class—the Integrated Design Lab. In this series contributor Melissa Ackermann delves into the inner workings of the lab, including lecture topics and project progress.

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As the fall semester reached its midpoint, IDM students wrapped up their first innovation project. They emerged with a newfound understanding of the intricacies involved in identifying user needs and the powerful impact that such information has on product design, in this case a dust pan and broom. After rigorous research, concept generation, and design process, students presented their individual solutions for floor cleaning, to address the unmet needs of their target markets. Not surprisingly, the solutions reflected uncanny creativity, ranging from a dust pan for pet hair with disposable sticky sheets to an elegant wooden work of art that not only would offer functional use, but also would raise the brow of any refined connoisseur of design.

Equipped with their newly cultivated skills, students set off to master their second project, which entails collaborating in six three-member teams comprised of one individual from each discipline—design, engineering, and business. The assignment is for each team to design a kitchen utensil solution that should ideally have five or fewer parts. Each team will be responsible for funding its own product and manufacturing 50. The ultimate goal is selling all 50 units for a profit at a sales gala on December 10. The students’ motivation to “show me the money!” takes on added meaning as they strive to complete their project. Although turning a profit is important, it’s equally imperative that the final product works incredibly well and is aesthetically pleasing.

All 18 students individually identified five business opportunities. They then narrowed down their own options to two, utilizing key metrics to determine the products’ market desirability (“D”), technical feasibility (“F”), and business viability (“V”). Next they prepared one-page overviews for each of the two best opportunitiesDFV_Page_06, 36 ideas in total, and pitched them to the class to vote on. Six products were chosen for development, and the students formed teams to focus on how to best to create winning products from these ideas.

Since each team will be able to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of a designer, an engineer, and a business mind they will be well on their way to creating a truly innovative and moneymaking product.

Stay tuned for the next update, which will highlight the newly formed teams and the products they have decided to develop.

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