Taking classes outside of the Business School can be a very rewarding (and challenging) experience. The way I have always linked my relationship with the Tauber Institute to my future career goals is that I want to create desirable products that can actually be made. So I decided to put my money where my mouth was and take ME:452-Design For Manufacturability taught by Donald Malen in the Engineering School. Throughout the semester we examined many aspects of redesigning a product from material selection to incorporating snap fits. My team revamped a traditional Zippo lighter, which turned out to be a practical and cost saving redesign that I believe customers would enjoy. Despite the challenges, I am very glad I decided to push myself to look outside of Ross for a change. Did I learn how to make products with iPhone like precision or design the next computer mouse? No, I didn’t even come close. In fact, I will humbly admit there are some concepts I couldn’t recreate in the real world without the aid of an Engineer friend or two. This hints at where I saw the biggest value of the course and meeting people outside of Ross. I made friends with a group completely unlike myself and learned how Engineers think and process ideas. I can also see where their education left them short. For example, we each picked products to redesign for the course and many engineers re-created products that had a lot of cool (and very costly) features that clearly were not tested on consumers. In the workplace it would be unfair to expect an Engineer to think about cost, customers or creating objects of desire without a little help from their friends.
I learned to look at products for their function and question every fastener. I also see products as modules that can cheaply be incorporated into a variety of products. I like to think my group learned a few things from me about Human Centered Design, focus groups and product benchmarking against competitors. Whether its Engineering or English I would urge any of my classmates to take a break from Ross meet some more distant members of the Michigan Family.