Experiential Learning at Gaylord- Emily Bolton MSE ’12

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As a Masters of Entrepreneurship student, I am always looking for experiences that are both meaningful and will help me learn real skills that I can use in the future.  I was able to take advantage of one of these opportunities last semester at Syracuse in my Managing Product Development class.  The main focus of this course was to learn how to develop a new product, navigate it through the product pipeline, and take it to launch.  I felt confident that this was going to be a unique marketing class, but I was surprised at how interesting this class really was!

Instead of creating a theoretical project and taking that through the theoretical steps of the product pipeline, our groups got to develop a real product concept and pitch our final designs to the local company Gaylord, which specializes in library products.  This opportunity made the project so much more interesting because Gaylord was seriously considering adding our product suggestions to their current inventory.  We conducted our final presentations at Gaylord’s offices and with an audience of five Gaylord executives.  This was a fabulous experience as I was able to practice pitching to real executives, making a professional presentation, and really own a product proposal.  The executives were really interested in our product (a wireless charging mat station), and it was eye-opening to see what questions they had, and also to realize how seriously they were considering our suggestion.  I felt that I was making a serious contribution, and never before have I worked so hard and seen such a great result on a class project.

This class effectively blended course content with real-world applications in a way that I never experienced in my previous education at other institutions.  I took away not only the text-book knowledge of product development, but also heightened skills in professionalism, public-speaking, and creating a realistic product for a growing company.

Below are images of the product my group created.  We decided to place a wireless charging mat into one of Gaylord’s best-selling workstations.  Our decision to focus on this product was a result of market research as well as the incorporation of technology and environmental trends.  We believe the workstation also lends itself to the multifunctional spaces of today’s libraries.

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