Concept…Prototype…Product!

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From children’s shoes to clean shirts and from plant care to cooking, students in this year’s course on Managing the New Product Development Process turned Berkeley-Haas into a maker’s lair.

The course, an experiential learning offering that is part of the Berkeley Innovative Leader curriculum, attracts students from across campus, including from the College of Engineering and School of information. Industry professionals from such firms as Smart Design, Salesforce, and Autodesk provide coaching to the teams, who work on a product from concept generation through prototype development—and share their efforts in a semester’s-end trade show.

Christian Barsakow, MBA 13, and his teammates developed the “Rejuvenator,” a steaming, scenting, and drying chamber that would give shirts a just-washed quality, without the wear and tear of actual laundering. “What most people seek is the scent, smoothed fabric, and visual cleanliness,” says Barsakow.  The “Rejuvenator” steams out wrinkles, releases a light scent and zaps clothes with UV light to kill odor-causing bacteria, then ventilates to dry them.  “All while you sleep!” says Barsakow.

Brian Feth, MBA 13, and teammates sought to improve the plant ownership experience with “Grow,” a semi-automated plant watering system that allows the owner to monitor soil moisture remotely, receive a text or app notification when the moisture goes below a set threshold (specific to plant type), and enables remote watering through the push of an app button. “Our customer interviews indicated that most people value the responsibility of caring for plants, but don’t want to spend a lot of time,” says Feth.

If the Shoe Fits…

Pablo Molinero, MBA 13, and his team observed that young children outgrow shoes before wearing them out, forcing parents to replace shoes in “like-new” condition. “Between the five members of our group we have seven children; and we have all shared the frustration of “underutilized” shoes,” says Molinero. “We initially started with expandable shoes that would grow with the child’s feet. However, going through the product development process in class, we were forced to start with a focus on the problem instead of on a specific solution we thought might work.”

Using the design thinking process that is part of the course allowed the team to draw a comprehensive picture of the problem, discuss and prototype dozens of concepts, and ultimately create“ Smart Fit.”   Made of 3D mesh (a material similar to foam but more versatile and breathable), “Smart Fit is an insert that goes into a shoe larger than the child’s foot and then compresses as the foot grows, so the shoe continues to fit and stay comfortable and stable.”

Sarah Fisher was part of the Joint.ly team, which dedicated itself to alleviating the challenges of the long-distance romance. “We heard through our interviews that couples were tired of the monotonous ‘daily report’—a check-in that tends to feel like q requirement in long distance relationships,” Fisher says.

Joint.ly , a small lighweight camera that can be clipped on effortlessly to the user allows couples to easily capture and share moments from the day and spark more meaningful conversations. Couples may also print a joint album of photos taken throughout the month.

“I was very interested in learning about the product life cycle – from problem statements to concept generation to prototyping,” says Fisher. Having the opportunity to work alongside engineers was also a learning experience. I enjoyed the cross-functional nature of the course and being able to materialize an idea from paper to prototype.”

Barsakow also thrived on the interdisciplinary nature of the course. “Everyone brings something different and the quality of the work is amazing,” he says. “We truly have rocket scientists at this university.”

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