Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two Birds with One Project

I am taking two classes this semester, both of which are project classes. I was thinking the other day that my semester is going to be a bit busy (although, when has a semester ever NOT been busy) because I have two project classes, plus being a TA, plus working on a business idea. And that's in addition to being an RA, and organizing an entrepreneurship conference. Oh yeah, research is in there somewhere too. Whew!

But the good news is that I have found a way to simplify my life.

My major is machine design, which means that I get to take classes in how to design things. These are my favorite classes - I've taken a product design class, and a precision machine design course. I love the creative element. This semester one of my classes is on mechanical product development. Students work on products that are in the prototype stage, and learn how to design those products for manufacturing/production. So it's basically taking a prototype and making it a real, commercial product.

The first day of class, we listened to students who had prototypes give short speeches about their idea. We then had to pick teams, by the next class period. I wasn't really enthused about any of the projects, so I was just trying to pick the one that would require the least work (so that I could focus on my other projects this semester). Hey, when you are a grad student you can be honest about your motives... :)

And then, a lightbulb went off.

I HAVE a prototype! The product for my business idea!

In fact, in order to move the business idea forward, this semester I was already going to re-design the prototype to be a commerical product.

Well, DUH, Miss Outlier, use the business idea for the class project!

One quick meeting with the professor later, I was set. I recruited a mechanical engineering friend of mine in the class to join my team (wasn't hard, she likes working with me), and one other classmate also wanted to join (an engineer with a ten-year business/finance background).

I am now really excited about how this term is going to go. I'm thrilled that all the work I will be doing for the class is also helping the business move forward, and selfishly I'm happy to have a couple classmates helping (and yes, they know it's my business, I made that clear up front). I'm also thrilled not to divide my time amongst three projects, only two. AND, the work I did for the business class on this idea LAST semester will be a good building block for the assignments for this semester (we have to do things like market analysis, etc.).

Onwards to a commercial product!

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