With robotic applications promising breakthroughs in fields ranging from healthcare and energy to defense and agriculture, MBA students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business are working with experts to analyze and identify standards, best practices and ways to share knowledge that could help advance the robotics industry.
Engineers, designers and entrepreneurs face both opportunities and challenges in the burgeoning field of robotics. As part of a graduate level course in marketing, Tepper MBA students are working with CMU’s Robotics Institute as well as experts from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and other industry stakeholders to understand how standardization might help the industry as a whole.
“Our students examined the role of engineers throughout the development process of new robotic technologies, from concept to production,” John Mather, Tepper professor of marketing, said in a statement. “This included an assessment of the major process challenges that engineers face, identifying sources of information and data that are currently available and pinpointing unmet needs.” The students surveyed robotics engineers, scientists and researchers, focusing on key transfer phases in the robot design process, to pinpoint best practices and data sharing opportunities, he continued.
Specifically, the Tepper students found that like many other major industries during their earliest phases, much of robotics development is conducted in isolation – without concern for compatibility with work being done by others. This is part of what makes standardization in the field so important. While there are currently government recommendations advising designers to support compatibility, as the world’s largest technical professional organization, IEEE could play a major role in establishing formal standards.
The input of the Tepper MBAs has been invaluable, say IEEE representatives. “They were able to combine a strong fundamental discipline in business and marketing with technology and leading experts at the Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center,” said Sandeep Sharma, IEEE senior manager of new product development. “Their work has enabled IEEE to better understand opportunities for our organization in providing valuable insights, products and services to the evolving robotics industry,” he added.
The IEEE/Tepper Marketing Course Project is one of several such programs at Tepper, in which students work together with leading companies and organizations to tackle real-world business challenges.