In 15.783J, each student team identifies a need, develops a solution, and designs and builds a prototype in response. In some cases, they even pursue a patent and bring the product to market. Eppinger introduces management experts, engineers, industrial designers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts to the process as the project demands. To the mix he adds real-life lessons from his own path-breaking product development research. The result is a dynamic process leading to market innovations.
Eppinger's students have brought a dozen or more individual products successfully through the product development process, including the “twist and pour paint jug” and a special tripod for birdwatchers. The tripod sets up silently in two seconds flat and stands steadily on uneven terrain. Developed for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, it captured one of BusinessWeek's annual design awards.