This paper documents the process, the outcomes and the lessons learned from two design courses aimed at incorporating environmental, economic and social concerns during the product development process. These courses are co-taught by professors of the Engineering and the Industrial Design Schools of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Each course lasts one academic semester and includes engineering graduate and undergraduate students from industrial design and engineering.
The two courses are “New Product Development” (NPD) and “Design for Sustainability” (DS). The NPD course runs in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and it has been taught at UNAM since 2008. The course fosters the development of product concepts that address particular user needs related to sustainability issues and enhance user’s experience and innovation.
The DS course is aimed at introducing students to the most representative approaches, methodologies and tools related to sustainability. DS takes the NPD process as a background, i.e. takes the NPD product concept produced by students and evaluates its environmental impact, and its technical and economic feasibility. Some issues on entrepreneurship and social responsibility are also covered.
For both courses design projects are paramount. Some of the projects carried out by the students during the courses are proposed by students themselves and some others are put forward by companies.
The first part of this paper includes some background information on representative sustainability courses reported in the literature. Then the complete process model comprised by the NPD and DS courses is presented. Some details of the actual courses contents and lecture activities are also described. Representative projects developed within the courses, one of which is now a startup company, are presented. Finally, insights and lessons learned are discussed.