Business and Engineering Students Partner to Create Green Products

This semester’s undergraduate cross-school collaboration is the first of its kind at Manhattan College.

Taking a product from the lab to the shelf can be a tedious process. But thanks to a collaboration between Manhattan business and engineering students, you might soon find solar-powered ice chests and energy-storing bicycles in a shop near you.

This interdisciplinary collaboration is the brainchild of Carolyn Predmore, Ph.D., professor of marketing and management, and Bahman Litkouhi, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering.

For the past two semesters, students in Litkouhi’s Senior Design class have designed, built and tested products with a sustainable, green theme. Starting in January, Predmore’s Contemporary Marketing Issues students entered the picture as consultants, developing branding and marketing plans for the engineers.

Although the minds of business students and engineering students may approach things differently, I learned how important it is to remain focused on a mutual goal, despite any differences of opinion.

“The real world is a collaboration. You work with other colleagues of different disciplines,” Litkouhi says. “Project completion is solved through other perspectives.”

The eight groups of students have combined their strengths to produce truly innovative projects, including a flood water recovery system that relocates excess water from gutters or sump pumps to lawns; a human-powered vehicle with a tilting frame that increases turning radius; and a device cleverly nicknamed “Litkouhi’s Buoy” that detects the thickness of ice when it becomes safe enough for walking or driving.

“The experience has been a great benefit to me because it has allowed me to realize the importance of communication and cooperation,” says Sean Valenti, a senior marketing major collaborating on Litkouhi’s Buoy. “Although the minds of business students and engineering students may approach things differently, I learned how important it is to remain focused on a mutual goal, despite any differences of opinion.” 

While the products continue to be tested and improved, Predmore’s marketing students meet and correspond with the engineering students to help define what the products do, identify a market audience and develop pricing and promotion advice.

“They like working with other students and demonstrating what they know,” Predmore says. “It brings reality into the classroom.”

In early May, the students presented their final projects and plans to the classes. Two of the projects — the human-powered vehicle and a mini baja car — will be entered into engineering competitions.

Both professors hope to see the continuation of partnerships in the future.

“I think it’s great for expanding and marketing student product innovation,” Predmore says.

“It’s just a beginning,” Litkouhi adds. “I would welcome any collaboration.”

 

Take a look at some of the students at work in the labs: