Studying engineering or engineering management at Northwestern offers students opportunities beyond the typical classroom experience. The Chicago Tribune recently highlighted the NUvention program, the type of interdisciplinary curriculum that makes McCormick School of Engineering a unique place to study. With interests similar to an MEM degree, which aims to teach students how to be part of a business in a role that transcends typical engineering responsibilities, the NUvention program aims to bring together students in undergraduate and graduate programs across disciplines to learn how to work in diverse groups and develop important business practices.
The basic premise of the program is “the creation of businesses that capitalize on innovations.” Students can enroll in four different six-month courses: web, medical innovation, energy, and innovate for impact. The web course focuses on software development, the medical course pairs students with a team from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, energy focuses on sustainability and climate change, and impact tackles global issues through social enterprise. At the end of the class, students present their projects to an advisory board who offers feedback on their products and marketing.
In addition to NUvention, the Farley Center for Entrepensuership and Innovation, which sponsors the program, hosts speakers like Groupon’s Andrew Mason (a Northwestern Graduate) and gives alumni, students, and professors a meeting point to talk about business devlepment and start-ups. Students in the course during the 2011-2012 school year developed products as diverse as iPhone apps to link pet owners with certified pet boarders and organization applications for video producers. Students in the past have developed projects that continue to grow today and the current students can continue to work on their designs in one of nine spaces set aside for that purpose in the 1871 incubator at Merchandise Mart, a space Google is considering investing in as well.