Engineering Innovation: Moving Ideas to Impact

Gain the perspective of a chief technology officer

15.359J / 6.901J
Engineering Innovation: Moving Ideas to Impact

This class is designed for future CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) and those curious about how to bring an innovation to market in start-ups and in large organizations. We focus on “engineering innovation” — the processes, knowledge, and techniques needed to take an opportunity from the earliest stages of idea conception through to impact in the global economy. We explore the challenges, tradeoffs, and issues associated with four key aspects of technology development and commercialization:

  • Solution Readiness: How can you generate, evaluate, fund and protect new solutions? When is a solution really ready for the market? And what problem is the solution really ready to solve?
  • Production Readiness: How can you build 1 of your new solution? 10? 10,000? What sort of foundry can you use for production or do you need to build a new foundry? And how do you fund this?
  • Team Readiness: Effective teams are critical to effective innovation engineering. What type and size of team is needed? How can you build, prepare, and manage that team? And what sort of characteristics do you bring to the team?
  • Stakeholder Readiness: Which stakeholders are most important (e.g. regulators, investors) and how can you best manage them? How do you engage them in your solution readiness activities to ensure that they too are ready?

This class is one of two required classes for the Undergraduate Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is complementary to the Venture Engineering course.

Class Design

The course is designed to be interactive, practical and relevant. As well as lectures outlining the four dimensions of readiness for taking ideas to impact, we will teach a range of practical tools and techniques that are of particular value to CTOs and members of technical teams (especially in start-ups) relevant to each of the four dimensions (with recitations in key topics):

  • Solution Readiness: cash-flow analysis, experimentation planning, power analysis, valuation methods, project milestone planning
  • Production Readiness: production decision analysis, production bill of materials
  • Team Readiness: equity splits, funding and dilution, team planning
  • Stakeholder Readiness: stakeholder mapping

We cover examples from a range of examples (mostly MIT start-ups) from different disciplines: software, hardware, life sciences, materials science, etc. Each class will include a lecture, development of new tools and techniques, and practical application to specific cases and examples. We will have numerous visitors from the local Boston innovation ecosystem who will share their experiences in a way that complements the specific topics of the class. Many of our visitors will be recent CTOs / CEOs of MIT spinouts (and often MIT alums), but also those with significant experience in bringing ideas to impact.

The class will also have labs including “field trips” to locations in the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem.

Stellar Site

  • The most recent Stellar site is available here.


  • Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00–10:30 am | 1-390
  • Labs: Section 1, 8:30–10:00 am; Section 2, 3:00–4:30 pm | 1-390 or various field trip locations


Teaching Assistants

  • TBD


  • MIT undergraduates can register through the official course listing here.