Lehigh University's Interdisciplinary Capstone Design program focuses on technical entrepreneurship through experiential learning. We use the new product development process as a means to the end of preparing our students to lead companies in creativity, innovation and the commercialization of intellectual property. Students who have participated in IPD find that their experiences are invaluable once they have entered the workplace.

The IPD course sequence is the culmination of experiential learning where students work in cross-disciplinary teams with faculty and senior peer mentors, as well as with mentors from both established and local startup companies through sponsored partnerships. These partnerships form the backbone on which IPD establishes the interdisciplinary teams and the curricula focusing on experiential learning through product and process development. The award-winning IPD program, expanding since 1994, counts among its ranks about 400 industry-sponsored projects and almost 3,000 student participants. Each year IPD offers this two-course sequence to approximately 200 students for a total of 5 or 6 credits that are co-listed under engineering, business, and design.

Undergraduates can spend two or three semesters on this project; their experience can be continued into a Master's of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Technical Entrepreneurship that is open to graduates with four-year college degrees in any discipline.


The IPD process involves 5 stages with parallel efforts in process and data management. The program uses Ulrich and Eppinger's process as well as IDEO's 'deep dive' across all five stages. IPD staff members, while working with sponsors, identify each project as an opportunity worth investing time, effort and money. The student teams focus on stages 2 and 3 during the courses while planning stages 4 and 5 for the company to execute at the end of the project.

Companies, as well as individuals, invest in innovation and global manufacturing to get new products and services to paying customers to generate revenue and create individual and societal wealth when the return on investment is greater than any other alternative. This process by its nature requires a global perspective with global suppliers, manufacturers, and customers. Entrepreneurs are needed to start and lead these companies.


The IPD program has several tenets including:

  • Innovation is the engine that drives economic growth "Innovate, automate, emigrate or evaporate!" (Lee Iacocca Lehigh Class of 1945)
  • The greatest opportunity for innovation occurs at the intersections of disciplines!
  • Innovation is a process that can best be learned by doing it!
  • Experiential learning comes from engaging our students in real-world projects provided by our industry partners.
  • All projects require a global perspective through each stage of the Integrated Product Development (IPD) process.
  • Our industry sponsors represent established companies, local startups and student startups.
  • Diverse interdisciplinary teams applying creative processes and methods have the best chance for success.
  • Entrepreneurial mindsets are critical to success.
  • Lehigh University provides an environment where student entrepreneurship will flourish.