Global Product DevelopmentLocation of Program: Europe Year: 2016
Program Director(s): Spencer Magleby
Participating Major(s): All Engineering and Technology Students
This study abroad helps students understand the process of product development, and how it changes across industries and cultures. The study abroad class spent 1 week in Utah learning about the stages of product development, and seeing these stages in action during several visits to American companies in Utah. The next 2 weeks were spent traveling through Europe. The group made stops in The Netherlands, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic – visiting various engineering companies and comparing their methods for implementing the stages of product development
Recap of the Year:
Students saw firsthand what it means to be leaders in innovation and engineering, specifically in a global and culturally diverse economy. Some the principle lessons learned included the value and necessity of leveraging diversity, the importance of specialization, the power of passion and vision, and the value of stretching yourself and others to go outside their comfort zones.
This study abroad gave each student a better understanding of how different cultures work. Touring countries in both Eastern and Western Europe, they learned to appreciate the strengths of different countries and regions. Students became better aquatinted with the technical economies of these countries and how to use them in their global portfolio as future leaders in technical workplace.
The stages of product development are not taught in the regular mechanical engineering curriculum, yet are vitally important for innovators, leaders, and managers to understand. These stages define much of what happens day-to-day in technical workplaces, so the opportunity to see their implementation first-hand, in a very diverse gamut of industries and cultures, is invaluable.
“It has long been said that the world is becoming a smaller place. In fact, it has been reported that approximately 1 in 4 people will work with someone from another country, and that number is only increasing. What is less known, however, is the valuable lessons that can be learned from observing first-hand how companies operate around the world.”
“We visited 19 engineering related companies and 3 universities in the US, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. These companies range from small design firms to major corporations with products ranging from wooden chairs to solar arrays that will be used to power the next satellite to orbit Mercury.”