Seeking Sponsors for Product Innovation Projects

product innovation

Project Sponsor Application and Info

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Project Sponsor for the Master of Science in Product Innovation. The program, with both part time and full time students, teaches skills from the beginning of the product innovation process all the way to product life cycle reviews.

For more information about the program and coursework, view the program website.

Submit Project Proposals

We encourage organizations to submit multiple, varied project ideas.

Complete The Form

What Types of Sponsored Projects?

One of the cornerstones of the Master of Science in Product Innovation is a 250+ hour impact-driven practicum experience that spans 14 months.

This practicum will be in partnership with sponsor companies who have product innovation projects that they believe would add value to their offerings, but they are unable to accomplish in their day-to-day operations.

This is not an internship with a list of tasks, but rather a distinct scope of work within the product innovation, development, and launch process that the company sees as beneficial to their business, but beyond their current capacity.

Projects are designed to be responsive to areas where the students intend to develop their skills and the company aims to advance their business.

Project examples include:

  • Design of a new product, line, or component
  • Testing protocols and implementation of testing for a product or component
  • Sourcing of novel or more sustainable materials
  • Developing a go-to-market strategy
  • Commercialization of existing intellectual property
  • Creating or updating market research for a product
  • Life cycle analysis or sustainable product certifications
  • And many other possible paths
Project Sponsor Expectations

Contrary to a standard internship arrangement, the majority of our students will be mid-career professionals and the practicum provides an important experiential engagement with businesses.

Many of them are practicing engineers, computer scientists, and design professionals looking to expand their reach and skill set. Some of them are using this program to move into a different industry, such as the outdoor industry.

Given this high level of experience and high touch engagement, your organization benefits from the scope of work that is accomplished through the 250-hour project. We see these partnerships as a key aspect of our contribution to workforce and economic development.

Project Sponsor Commitment

The commitment for a project sponsor involves the following:

  • Present a clear scope of work for the student and continue to develop it as the project unfolds over the 14-month duration.
  • Engage in regular (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) meetings with the student to ensure that it is progressing as planned for a successful outcome.
  • Provide critical and timely feedback and assistance in developing the project.
  • Support the student in developing their professional network throughout the project and beyond.
  • Meet with the university assigned Project Advisor at the beginning and end of the project to align and clarify expectations and deliverables.
  • Attend the students' final presentation as they complete their degree.
  • Complete an evaluation of the student at the completion of the project and submit it to their advisor.
Why Be a Project Sponsor?
  • Complete projects that you haven't had the time or ability to complete.
  • Work with talented and enthusiastic students who are versed in the latest trends in product innovation.
  • Set up long-term projects that multiple students could contribute to.
  • Establish professional connections with future management leaders and expand your potential pool of future employees.
Can we work with more than one student at a time?

Yes, in some cases a project might require a team approach and we are supportive of advising teams of students working on the same project together. The commitments for the sponsor would then include the above for each student.

Resources to Support Product Development

We are also very excited to be building a prototyping lab in the Airship Coffee building near the Collaborative that will support student practicum projects.

This space will focus on prototyping and innovation projects with outdoor industry brands who would benefit from the support of an Engineer-in-Residence and additional prototyping space and equipment.

We have identified the gaps for prototyping in NW Arkansas and we are addressing these gaps in this new prototyping lab, which will focus largely on metals.

We are also working on creating access agreements with a number of makerspaces in NW Arkansas to expand our access to equipment.

Submit Project Proposals

We look forward to your project ideas. Please complete the form and be sure to include as many details as possible.