Local Makerspace and Millikin 创业中心 partner up to teach product development
学生如何克服拖延症? How can a strip of fabric organize cables and style hair? How can a person get all the peanut butter out of a jar without mess or waste? These are the types of problems being solved by Millikin University's 塔博尔商学院 students in the Innovation Lab class taught by Dr. Jane Hua, assistant professor of entrepreneurship.
Through a partnership between downtown Decatur's Thinkwell Makerspace Industries and Millikin's 创业中心, these students are learning about the entire process of how to create a product for consumers. From brainstorming a product idea and designing prototypes to actually fabricating their inventions, gathering customer feedback and studying market trends, Innovation Lab students are getting a close-up view of an important and often overlooked area of entrepreneurship.
"This class is for those who want to start a business because they have an invention," Dr. 华解释说. She emphasized that the Innovation Lab was a crucial component of Millikin's hands-on approach to education, 性能的学习. 而博士. Hua handles the classroom lectures and discussions for the class, the hands-on portion of Innovation Lab is overseen by 杰西冲, president and CEO of Thinkwell Makerspace Industries in their downtown Makerspace location.
“创客空间是一种开源, 开放式工作区, and the goal is to give people access to tools and technology,”生硬的解释说.
Innovation Lab students have access to the rapid prototyping technology inside the space, including computer-aided design (CAD) software and 3D printers, as well as Blunt's extensive knowledge of creation, 制造和创新. "I bring the technical expertise and the actual fabrication methods. We explore how to bring ideas from a nebulous design phase into practical, 有形的原型,直率的说.
为班级的主要项目, students were encouraged to create products that would be useful to consumers and solve problems. Jelle Berkhout, an entrepreneurship major from the Netherlands who is studying abroad at Millikin for a semester, said that he was the "idea man" for his team's product, 被称为“Racleen," which aims to create a new way to remove spreads like jams and jellies out of a jar.
“这是我一直面临的问题. I have to stick my knife all the way to the bottom of the jar. It's not an efficient process and you end up with a mess and wasting food," Berkhout explained.
While the Racleen team does not yet have a working prototype for their product, they have gotten positive feedback from potential consumers about the idea.
Another team was further along in the process, having already created a working prototype, received feedback from customers and were now beginning market research efforts to determine their product name, 价格点和最佳销售平台. 在展示了她的团队的进展之后, 布里吉特Duesterhaus, 创业专业大四学生, was using her class time to research possible competitors on Etsy, an e-commerce company focused on handmade products and crafted items. "The end goal is to have a final prototype that they can take to an online platform to sell, or to speak with potential suppliers and manufacturers and see what they would need to mass produce and commercialize the product," Dr. 华说.
The students involved in the Innovation Lab described the experience as being much different from other business courses they've taken. 杰克Vietti, a senior business entrepreneurship major and member of the Racleen team, mentioned that developing a product was an entirely new experience for him. “通常我开发服务, so I was excited to take on something new and develop something innovative." Vietti also said that he was fine-tuning CAD skills that he hadn't used since high school and applying his business knowledge to the product his team is engineering.
最初, the Innovation Lab class was developed to fill a need in the entrepreneurship curriculum, which lacked a course specifically for students with an invention they intended to commercialize. Dr. 华说 her primary goal in teaching the class was to integrate a design thinking framework with 性能的学习 principles to maximize what students were learning.
Dr. Hua mentioned that she hoped the students would gain a variety of skills in the Innovation Lab, 但她强调了一个重要的教训. "What I want the students to learn is not necessarily to craft something, but to create with the design thinking mindset. How to pivot and how to consider the customer's needs first. How can they adjust their ideas based on what the customer needs?"