Product Realization Course

Companies need time and talent to develop new product prototypes. Students need real world experience. The ANSYS Institute’s “Product Realization Course” brings these groups together. Students design, test and produce a prototype for companies that offer funding and mentorship. Aurora Healthcare, Eaton Corporation, Rexnord, BizStarts and the Medical College of Wisconsin are just some of the organizations that have used the class to take their ideas to the next step.

How It Works

The Product Realization course is a regular course offering. Industry sponsors pay a fee to cover expenses and provide engineering personnel to mentor their student project team. The multidisciplinary approach has real benefit. The course is co-taught by an engineering professor and an art professor. Students form interdisciplinary teams of engineers, artists and designers. They review the company’s product brief, determine a budget and timeline, then design and build the prototype.

Ilya Avdeev, Ph.D, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Nathaniel Stern, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering and also of art and design and head of digital studio practice in the Peck School of the Arts, collaborate and oversee the 15-week process. Some of the projects have included eye-tracking software, wheelchair design, wave energy collectors and personal lighting devices for roadside emergencies.

The ANSYS Institute gives students hands-on access to computer-aided-engineering capabilities; a versatile A/V presentation system; studio space with workbench areas for physical prototype development and assembly; and equipment for rapid-prototyping, reverse engineering and rapid product development. Teams operate in an open lab environment that encourages a free exchange of ideas across groups.

Industry Sponsor Commitments

To get into the program, industry participants cover costs and provide an engineer mentor to work with the project team. Additionally, each company must submit a letter of intent and a project application containing:

  • Project Title
  • Sponsor Company
  • Sponsor Contact
  • Industry Sector
  • Project Goals
  • Sponsor Contributions, including a description of any hardware, software, data or information the sponsor will provide to the project team
  • Commitment to pay project sponsor fee


Students learn how to work in teams, present ideas professionally, deliver presentations and take an idea from concept to prototype. Companies gain valuable insight into the practicality of new product designs.

Course Contact Information

Dr. Ilya Avdeev
Kellner Entrepreneurship Fellow

Co-Director, NSF I-Corps Site / Student Startup Challenge
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering & Applied Science
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Cell: (414) 510-3631