This popular course provides a solid link between businesses and undergraduate students from both engineering and liberal arts. Business sponsors invest funds and mentor students as they develop a real prototype.  Students are given a product brief and granted a budget. They then spend several weeks designing a model. Ultimately, they build a prototype, develop a product prospectus, and present their approach to the sponsor.

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.

Industry Sponsor Commitments

To participate in the program, a business covers costs and provides 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.


If you are interested in participating in the Product Realization Course as a product sponsor, contact:

Michael G. Andrew
Director of Corporate Relations
Office of the Dean
College of Engineering & Applied Science
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Office: 414-251-8313
Mobile:  262-239-5252