The Practicum

Experience What You Can Become

The men and women who successfully meet the rigors of the University of Illinois' Technology Management Program are expected to be leaders in their respective organizations upon graduation. It is with this in mind that we developed the Technology Practicum, so that students might have a chance to truly discover their newly developed abilities and hone their leadership skills in the midst of a real world project.

The Practicum is the Capstone course of the MSTM. As such, it integrates all of the knowledge you will have acquired in the program to that point alongside your personal and professional experiences, and those of your teammates. By helping the student teams to bridge the knowledge to experience gap, The Practicum empowers you to make sound recommendations to our clients, covering the myriad issues they bring to us.

The Intersection of Knowledge, Experience, and Application

Each course that you will complete during the MSTM adds a critical knowledge base or skill set to your repertoire that will be utilized in The Practicum. For example, new product development strategy will help the student determine the optimal path to commercialization of a new product. Or, the project planning course will assist you in creating a project plan which will allow you to deliver the kind of excellent results that the faculty and clients expect, and require.

Leadership and Teamwork Are Not Just Buzzwords

leadership

Employers often take for granted the fact that our graduates will have the technical competence necessary for their job. In the Practicum you will go far beyond mere technical competence, and into the science of the human element, by perfecting the leadership and teamwork skills needed to soar beyond being thought of as a typical employee. You will prove that you have learned to think differently.

For example, students with many years of business experience are hand-picked by faculty as Project Managers. Once chosen, the Project Managers then fill out their teams in a competitive selection process. The Project Managers then lead their respective teams to attaining high-level, professional-quality results which will prepare them to successfully take on larger levels of responsibility for future employers.

You Are Ready and You Will Prove It

In The Practicum, you will get a chance to test yourself and go beyond what you think is possible. Past students from all over the world have come together to do elite work helping our business partners like John Deere, LG Electronics, and high-tech startup companies achieve real results.

Example Projects Done by MSTM Students

University of Illinois tech startup

Technology: Microplasma for the Lighting Industry
Problem: How to achieve the most immediate success rolling out a new product with limited capital
Deliverable: Technology assessment and market analysis with a final recommendation that prioritized the market segments to optimize the potential for a successful product rollout.
project Timeline: 50 days

This project focused on micro plasma technology lighting that was invented by University of Illinois professors. The problem was to determine the best market segment(s) to attack when rolling out the product. This new lighting technology is nearly as thin as a sheet of paper, flexible, moldable and can be made in nearly any size or shape. The team, in collaboration with the client/inventors developed a strategy to commercialize the technology. By assessing the technology’s strengths and weaknesses, they determined the technology’s location in the lighting space. Then, after significant data acquisition and analysis, the team proposed the best market segment to roll out the new product and prioritized the remaining market segments for subsequent rollouts.

Fortune 500 Manufacturing company

Technology: Electronic control units
Problem:The client sought to evaluate whether changing the system architecture for electronic control units would lower manufacturing costs.
Deliverable:A qualitative, comparative analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of a centralized embedded systems model, a decentralized systems model, and the current bundled systems model. This was supplemented with a qualitative case analysis of financial costs based upon the number of lines of code.
Timeline: 50 days

This project focused on the costs associated with three different systems architectures for electronic control units and the corresponding decision whether or not to switch architectures. Based on data provided by the client, in a highly distributed model, the team found that hardware costs are higher and software costs are lower. Additionally, the student team estimated the software costs associated with switching from a bundled architecture to a centralized architecture, and if it would be beneficial for the client to make the switch.

Large, privately-owned company

Technology: Web-based interactive marketing tool
Problem: How to increase the millennial market’s awareness of the firm's products.
Deliverable: A recommendation that included primary research of the target market and focus group assessments of the marketing tool.
Timeline: 50 days

This project revolved around the analysis of a beta version of the client's web-based marketing tool, and the subsequent testing of its level of acceptance by the target market. The research was collected and analyzed, and the client made revisions to the tool as a result of the team's recommendations.

International Digital Electronics Manufacturer

Technology: Mini Projector
Problem: An internally developed technology is competing with externally developed technology for integrationinto cell phones.
Deliverable: Technology assessment and market analysis with a final recommendation, along with thoughts on creating methodologies to mitigate internal development problems.
Timeline: 50 days

This project involved a mini projector technology that was developed by the students' employer. The technology was evaluated to determine whether or not the mini projector was fit for integration into cell phones. The team collected data to assess the technology based on its technical, market and financial merits, with special consideration given to the political impact of the go/no-go decision within the company. Ultimately, the team discovered that while the technology worked, the design would create a phone thicker than most others. Consumers found that characteristic to be totally undesirable, and so the team recommended that the mini projector/cell phone integration project be discontinued, in addition to their recommendations for mitigating corresponding social, economic and political repercussions of the decision within their company.

Fortune 100 Manufacturing Company

Problem:How to allocate scarce corporate resources to the development and commercialization of internally developed technologies.
Deliverable: A simple, modifiable spreadsheet that would allow multiple people within the firm to evaluate the technology based on corporate-developed characteristics. The spreadsheet tool was created with the ultimate purpose of assisting decision makers in the allocation of resources by ranking technologies based on their respective scores in the spreadsheet.
Timeline: 50 days

This section is excerpted from the final report of the students. This project proposed a method for evaluating advanced sensors that are candidates for new product development. The motivation for creating this process is that, among several competing new product projects, it is usually difficult to decide which one(s) should be invested when funding is limited, especially when the gaps between benefits and costs are not significant…
To address this problem for any amount of investment required or state of uncertainty that a technology company might encounter, we created a seven step evaluation process based on relevant decision models and theories. The seven steps are:

  1. Identify the Best Technical Approach
  2. Product Readiness Assessment
  3. Lead User Valuation
  4. Discount Cash Flow for 10 Years
  5. Sensitivity Analysis and Risk Analysis
  6. Competitor Analysis
  7. Real Options

This approach considers the technology aspect to be as important as the market aspects of the investment decision. By gathering both types of information, we are better able to assess whether a given technology is a viable investment in a relatively easy, less time consuming and lower cost way than traditionally used, as appropriate for small- or medium-sized new product development projects.

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