Students Present New Products at Tradeshow, Dec. 13

Student projects aimed at easing glucose monitoring, flushing toilets without water, and stamping out stubble will be on display at the annual tradeshow for Managing the New Product Development Process course from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, in the Wells Fargo Room. The Haas School community is invited to attend.

The course, offered through the Management of Technology (MOT) Program, teams up Berkeley MBA students, UC Berkeley graduate engineering students, and design students from the California College of the Arts (CCA) to develop products from conception to prototyping.

MOT Faculty Director Sara Beckman teaches the course with engineering professor Alice Agogino and CCA faculty member Emily Ford. Designers from firms such as Lunar, Jump Associates, and PointForward serve as team coaches, and more than 30 designers from local firms serve as judges during the tradeshow.

Four of this year’s 19 teams have members from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, who will fly up to attend the tradeshow. This is the third year that UNAM students have participated in the course, sharing course materials online while attending lectures with UNAM professors. One joint Berkeley-UNAM team is developing a waterless toilet for an NGO in Mexico.

The interdisciplinary nature of the course strongly shapes the evolution of product ideas, according to Osman Malik and Mike Shipley, both MBA 10. Their idea: to deliver disposable razors more cheaply. “While we were focused on economics, our CCA teammates were focused on the user experience,” says Malik. As a result, the team ultimately developed a razor not just at a better price, but with a better shaving experience as well.

“The different perspectives of our teammates made it easier to move beyond numbers and consider design and process,” says Shipley.

For Roshan Bhula, Eric Kuhn, and Julian Coulhault, all MBA 10, and their teammates, thorough analysis of user needs altered original intent. The team began with an idea to integrate insulin delivery and glucose monitoring to make both activities more user-friendly for diabetics. But after observing and interviewing diabetics, they realized that insulin delivery was less important to them.

“It turned out that simpler testing processes were more important since diabetics sometimes found carrying a large case with testing equipment socially obstructive, such as when going out for the evening or going for a run,” Bhula explains.

Shifting its focus to only the testing process, the team worked to integrate the monitor, testing strips, and lancet into one device. Then they built rough prototypes. “We built a product with a sliding mechanism that would store multiple strips and eject one at a time, along with a lancing needle,” says Bhula. “We showed this to a few potential users, who loved it, but wanted a way to store used test strips as well. Our final prototype will incorporate this idea.”

In the past, ideas have even evolved beyond prototype into viable businesses. Jeff Denby and Jason Kibbey, both MBA 08, fabricated their first iteration of their organic, sustainable underwear as part of Beckman's course. Today, their company, PACT, is grabbing headlines around the country for its unique product.