Technology Innovation and Commercialization

(ME 495, Inaugural offering: Spring 2011) 

PDF flyer for Spring 2011   


If you care about the following two questions, this class is for you.

How to make useful technology? How to make money from technology that you are about to research?

This class is about EMPOWERING ENGINEERS and INVENTORS.  This class will prepare you with background knowledge that are vital to your development but were never taught.  

Prof. Liu believes that engineering graduate education today misses an important element: to inspire students to dream and teach them the rules of engagement for the game of innovation. As a result, Prof. Liu initiated this brand new class for Northwestern McCormick graduate students.

This is the boot camp for graduate students.  You will enter as a naive and emotional technologist, you will leave as a seasoned and strategic thinker.

We will learn from the successful cases of Apple iPhone, Netflix, Qualcomm, InvenSense, MedTronics, and a lot more.
We will learn from the failed cases of Picture phone, and Apple Newton.
We will (re-)learn the life stories of heroic inventors such as Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alex Bell, Jeong Kim  ...

In this class, we will have fun, discuss, learn from living technology history, teach teach other, do deep and purposeful research, and, (did I meantion?) have fun. We will use a number of classical and enlightening books and Business School style business case studies. Prerequisite: none, just bring your desire and dream to the class.


Week 1: Rules of innovation: what is innovation?  how is it different from invention? how is it connected with your research? what is the power of innovation? types of innovation, diffusion of technology, innovators delimma, ten survival concepts.

Week 2: Case 1: Qualcomm and its money making machine. Plus the stories of Patrick Soon, Jeong Kim, and others.  (Key message: You can make billions doing research and Ph.D.) 

Week 3: Case 2: Getting to know Mr. Thomas Edison, Better. (Key message: Don't develop technology for technology.  Develop technology for business.)

Week 4: Accounting and financing 101 for busy engineering graduate students. Do you know what revenue, profit, stock price, and evaluation is?  or do you REALLY know?

Week 5: Case 3: What we learn from Steve Jobs, Apple, iPod, iPad, and iTunes.

Week 6: Need finding. Cases of biomedical innovations and applications. (Key message: Need finding is deeper than you thought).

Week 7: Case 4: Your own case stories (student present case based on independant studies)

Week 8: Guest lectures. (About 2-3 guest lectures will be sprinkled throughout the quarter, from successful or trying entrepreneurs in the Chicago and US).

Week 9: Patents: sword or shield? (hint) How successful business wield the power of intellectual protection.

Week 10: Summary: The key elements of starting a business based on technology. Why business plan is difficult for technologists, and everyone.


Copyright Chang Liu.