We present a longitudinal study of what graduates take away from a cross-disciplinary graduate-level New Product Development (NPD) course at UC Berkeley over a 15-year period from 1996-2010. We designed and deployed a longitudinal survey and interviewed a segment of our NPD alumni population to better understand how well our course prepared these alumni for careers in design, innovation, entrepreneurship and product management. We questioned alumni regarding the value of specific NPD skills, methods, and tools taught in the course. This paper presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis of survey and interview data. The results reaffirm the value of engaging students in multidisciplinary design projects as a means for developing the skills needed in today’s competitive NPD environment and highlight the similarities and differences that exist between academic and industry NPD practices. We believe the findings will inform educators about what is valued in NPD courses by graduates now working in industry.
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