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Inaugural Best MOT Capstone Award Announced | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
July 10, 2017
Photo of the recipient of the 2017 Best Capstone for the Management of Technology Award, Nate Johnson

One of the many things that set the Technological Leadership Institute's programs apart from other masters programs is the capstone project. In each of our three Master of Science programs students are asked to identify a real-world problem or issue, often within their own workplace, and apply the techniques, theories and knowledge they have learned in their program to find an innovative solution.  The capstone projects not only provide invaluable experience and high-level recognition for students, many also have a strong financial impact on the company. In surveys one-year after graduation, alumni report financial impacts of their projects ranging from $83,000 to tens of millions of dollars.

This year as an added incentive to students, TLI instituted the first annual Best Capstone Award. Winners will be announced in all three programs, with one overall winner selected once all the program winners are announced.

Selections for the Best Capstone Awards are based on the following criteria:

  • Significance and potential impact of problem addressed
  • Selection and effective use of analytical methods/tools
  • Quality of final capstone report
  • Quality of final capstone presentation

As the Director of Graduate Studies for the M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT) program, it is my pleasure to announce the finalists and winner for capstone projects completed by the MOT 2017 graduates.

Our outstanding finalists are:

  • Nate Johnson, Starkey Hearing Technologies, “Product Line Engineering—Increasing Market Share Through Effective Product Development at Starkey Hearing Technologies”
  • Yongkyoo Lee, You Me Patent & Law Firm, “Process for Transferring Korean Startups Hardware Product Businesses to the United States”
  • Emily Palk, Medtronic, “Improving Predictability and Reducing Time to Market for Medtronic Restorative Therapies Group through Improved Portfolio Execution”
  • Yohei Sukegawa, Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, “Effective R&D Funding Management for Improved Commercialization”
  • Wes Truelson, Loram, “Lean Improvement of Loram’s Project Definition Process”

And the winner is ... Nate Johnson of Starkey Technologies.

Nate’s capstone is an excellent demonstration of the use of MOT tools for business-critical problems. Nate works at Starkey Hearing Technologies, which has grown tremendously over the last few decades and is now recognized for its high-technology products. Still, current product development practices at Starkey need to be revisited to enable the company’s continued growth in an increasingly competitive environment. This capstone recommends the adoption of product line engineering (PLE) to revitalize product development. Nate undertook an in-depth analysis of Starkey’s current product development approach, competitive benchmarking, literature research, and a number of analyses with MOT tools. The output is a convincing recommendation and roadmap for PLE adoption, with expectations of a dramatic improvement by three times in terms of the number of high-quality products released.

“The capstone project was the most beneficial undertaking in the MOT program. Applying tools and critical thinking skills learned in classes to a real-world problem with significant business impact was a fantastic experience — one I would highly recommend to anyone looking to advance their career”, said Nate in response to receiving the honor.

Best Capstone Awards for the M.S. in Security Technologies and M.S. in Medical Device Innovation programs will be announced soon after the completion of these programs this summer. We will also announce an overall “Best TLI Capstone of the Year” award, so stay tuned for more recognitions of our outstanding students!

About the Author

Tariq Samad

Tariq Samad, PhD

Senior Fellow
Honeywell/W.R. Sweatt Chair in Technology Management
Director of Graduate Studies - MOT

Honeywell/W.R. Sweatt Chair in Technology Management

Dr. Tariq Samad brings more than 30 years of professional experience, leadership and expertise to TLI. His corporate career was spent at Honeywell, where he focused on technology strategy and management, encompassing the end-to-end concept-to-commercialization pathway. He also has substantial experience in research and innovation globally, and works with TLI to pursue research interests in areas such as clean energy, advanced manufacturing and smart cities. Dr. Samad serves as the director of graduate studies for the Master of Science in Management of Technology degree program at TLI.

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