New Corporate Partners for IPD Program | The Ultimate Real World Experience

Interdisciplinary Product Development (IPD) at UIC is a two-semester curriculum that integrates the latest technologies and best practices for innovative product development. The course combines Industrial Design, Engineering, and MBA/Marketing students from all three colleges to work together in cross-functional teams to research and develop new product concepts. The course focuses on the early stages of the product development process, from identifying market opportunities through initial prototyping. Eschewing the old sequential model of product development, in which a design idea originates in a business unit, is given visual form by industrial design, and then passed off to engineering, this course teaches current best practices of true integration of all three disciplines from the very earliest stages of product development.

UIC has signed new corporate partners for the Interdisciplinary Product Development program for the coming academic year (2013/14). New this fall, MBA students can chose the IPD section most aligned with their professional aspirations and industry preferences:



Mondays: 1-4pm

Corporate Partner: Baxter

This section is BioEngineering-focused.


Tuesdays: 1-4pm

Corporate Partner:  Dunkin’ Donuts and Prince Castle (equipment manufacturer for DD among others) are sponsoring jointly

This section provides a unique opportunity to work with a leading Quick Service Restaurant firm (DD) and one of their equipment suppliers (Prince Castle). This joint sponsorship allows students a unique experience of the value chain (i.e., B2B and B2C) and how to innovate across this value chain.



Thursdays: 12-3pm

Corporate Partner: Morningstar

This section is focused on innovating digital solutions. The opportunity to work with a leading global financial provider of independent financial investment research is of particular interest to MBAs focusing on finance and the financial sector, as well as those students who are looking to hone their skills in digital products.


Note: There is one more section that runs parallel on Thursdays, for which the corporate partner is SteelSeries (a gaming component company). That section is designated for undergraduate business students.

All sections are taught in the Innovation Center, 1240 West Harrison, Chicago, IL 60607. See the IPD Web site for general information and prior years’ corporate partners. 

MBA students interested in any of the IPD sections to contact Professor Jelena Spanjol first with their section preference, their updated resume, and list of classes completed as well as planned for Fall 2013. 


Here's what others have said about the IPD program: 

Marisa Randle


IPD (Cobra Electronics)

Current Position: Market Manager, Walgreens



The Interdisciplinary Product Development experience at UIC Liautaud is beyond textbook, and that is what really sets it apart. Not to mention, the Innovation Center is definitely my favorite space on campus! More importantly, we had the opportunity to make a real impact on a real brand and business. Students who take this class get a truly functional business experience that they can eventually talk about in front of prospective employers. IPD directly had an impact on my career path and that of many of my peers who also took the class.

Also, I think almost every job description I ran across in my post-MBA search called for cross-functional leadership, which is one of the most exciting skills that you will pick up in IPD. Getting to work with fellow students from different professional backgrounds and educational levels in order to innovate and produce is what its all about. If you are planning a career in marketing, business strategy, or innovation, I would say this is one of the highest value courses you could take during your MBA investment at Liautaud.

Ahmed Mujovic


IPD (Cobra Electronics)

Current Position: Senior Consultant, Protiviti



The IPD program, along with Tech Ventures, was the highlight of my MBA studies. IPD provided me the opportunity to lead and collaborate with a true multidisciplinary team, working on an actual concept - from analysis of market opportunities to design and prototyping - I lived the Liautaud motto 'where theory meets practice' for a year and can honestly say I earned the MBA inside the Innovation Center.

Dena Nejad


IPD (Cobra Electronics)

Current Position: Product Manager, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation


I joined the MBA program at UIC with the hope that I would come across a path that would make it clear for me what I would like to do with my career. While an Engineer I was not happy and desperately wanted a change but I was not sure what that change may look like. To be honest with you the IPD program was my light bulb. It was the class that really cleared up for me what my path should be and what I wanted to do next with my career. I really appreciated the richness of the class, the quality of talent amongst the students, the available resources and the freedom to push the limits and to enhance the experience the way we felt best fit. The program demonstrated a real world experience.

What I learned in IPD helped me tremendously with my career transition. Once I started at Bosch I realized how much I have learned during IPD. I was not lost at all and I felt that the learning was directly applicable. IPD also created great networking opportunities for me. I met my current colleague at Bosch at my IPD final presentation which lead to my interviews with them and my current position. I was also offered a position by the company we worked with during IPD.

Once again, the best class offered within the MBA program.



Megan Sparks


IPD (Cobra Electronics)

Current Position: Associate Brand Manager, Kraft Foods Group


IPD is a course I would highly recommend to any student. The ability to take ownership of a project from ideation to commercialization provided an environment to develop cross functional skills and execute against them. The interaction with industry experts combined with the engagement level of sponsoring companies intrinsically provides meaningful networking opportunities to increase points of connections within the professional world.

The open structure of the course allows students the freedom to creatively conceptualize ideas while providing the necessary support to ensure success. Maybe one of the best takeaways is the lasting relationships you will build not only with your professors and mentors but with those on your team.



Adrienne Nadeau


IPD (Coinstar/Redbox)

Current Position: Research Analyst, Technomic, Inc.


There were several important take-aways from the class. It gave me an opportunity to participate in the development of a project from beginning to end and really take ownership of an idea. I got a LOT of practice negotiating team relationships and, since I was one of the MBAs, leadership experience as well. While college students can be a difficult demographic, it was pointed out to me that there was a very good chance that in my first job out of grad school I would likely be supervising 20-something college grads, so IPD was valuable hands-on learning. Also, it gave me the opportunity to create and build on an idea in a very "safe" environment (no multi million dollar R&D or marketing initiatives to worry about here) and that allowed me and my team to take risks and try new things. A very rare opportunity indeed. I also loved getting my hands dirty with field work -- something that business people don't always get to do!

I think the experience would be particularly valuable for students who are recently out of college or who have never really done project management before or who are switching careers. Since I was coming from the artistic/non-profit world, I didn't have a lot of corporate experience. In every interview I went on, I mentioned IPD. No matter what the question was about -- marketing projects, project management, team work, leadership, field work, research, conflict resolution -- I always had some anecdote about working for CoinStar/Red Box.

Since my current job is as a market research analyst/consultant for the foodservice industry (I actually just finished a project for Morningstar), I am constantly drawing on experiences from IPD. Regular responsibilities at Technomic include secondary research, understanding the competitive landscape, I even did grocery store intercepts for a project on grab-and-go food, which is something Scott and I did while looking at the possibility of a snack kiosk. IPD is an experience that I am consistently drawing from.


Dominic Blank


IPD (Coinstar/Redbox)

Current Position: Cofounder & Chief Customer Developer, savvo digital sommelier solutions


I strongly believe that among the most valuable things a business school can do is to equip their students with the tools and concepts necessary to have maximum success in the workplace. Interdisciplinary Product Development (IPD) teaches students how to effectively approach, discover, execute and manage product development opportunities and challenges using a hands-on, team based approach. What stands out about the program is that it does not simulate real life scenarios but assigns real life projects with real life companies (corporate sponsors), people (team members and mentors) and expectations (deliverables). This provides for a highly complete and relevant learning opportunity acting as perfect preparation for students' professional careers. Today, I am working on two startups of which I cofounded one. Tools and concepts first taught in IPD including problem and solutions interviews, lean startup, agile product development, insight-driven iterations and team building (!!) do not only find daily application in my professional career but are critical necessities.

Thanks to the lessons learned from IPD my startup steered away from a "not so good idea" to one that has now enabled us to gain considerable market traction and paying customers within only a few months. Not only has the program given me a jump-start on being a more successful entrepreneur, but it has revealed my passion for team-building, design and product development. Influenced by my experiences during IPD my startup is now in the same industry as the program's corporate sponsor (at the time, Redbox) causing my mentor from back then to join my company as a key adviser and door opener! I strongly encourage those interested in anything involving entrepreneurship, innovation, product engineering and team building to take this class; anything else would be a missed opportunity.



Scott Green


IPD (Coinstar/Redbox)

Current Position: Manager of Business Operations, LOQUUS 



From an MBA perspective, the IPD program provided me tremendous experiences in team-oriented projects. Realistic professional environments include working with colleagues with different skill sets and training; IPD captures this by teaming business, designing, and engineering students.

 Learning how to effectively communicate and understand each other’s skill sets required time, but was essential to achieving our goals.  These challenges and accomplishments we’re significant experiences that have made me a better project manager.