Karl Ulrich

Karl Ulrich
  • CIBC Endowed Professor
  • Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions
  • Professor of Management
  • Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3730 Walnut Street
    547 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: environmental issues, product design and development, entrepreneurship, innovation

Links: CV, Personal Website

Overview

Karl T. Ulrich is Vice Dean of  Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the CIBC Professor of Entrepreneurship and e-Commerce at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds an appointment as Professor of Mechanical Engineering. His research is focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, and product development.

He is the co-author of Product Design and Development (5th Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2011), a textbook used by a quarter of a million students worldwide. His most recent book is Innovation Tournaments (Harvard Business Press, 2009). He is the winner of many teaching awards, including the Anvil Award, the Miller-Sherrerd Award, and the Excellence in Teaching Award at The Wharton School. At Penn, he co-founded the Weiss Tech House and the Integrated Product Design Program, two institutions fostering innovation in the university community.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Ulrich has led dozens of innovation efforts for medical devices, tools, computer peripherals, food products, web-based services, and sporting goods. As a result of this work, he holds more than 20 patents. Professor Ulrich is a founder of Terrapass Inc. which the New York Times identified as one of the most noteworthy ideas of 2005, and he is a designer of the Xootr scooter, which Business Week recognized as one of the 50 coolest products of the 21st Century. Professor Ulrich holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.

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Research

Teaching

Current Courses

  • IPD 515 - Product Design

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

    IPD 515401

  • MEAM415 - Product Design

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product, development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

    MEAM415401

  • OIDD415 - Product Design

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product, development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

    OIDD415401

  • OIDD515 - Product Design

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

    OIDD515401

  • OIDD614 - Innovation

    The course is first and foremost an intensive, integrative, project course in which student teams create one or more real businesses. Some businesses spun out of the course and now managed by alumni include Terrapass Inc. and Smatchy Inc. The project experience is an exciting context in which to learn key tools and fundamentals useful in innovation, problem solving, and design. Examples of these tools and fundamentals are: problem definition, identification of opportunities, generating alternatives, selecting among alternatives, principles of data graphics, and managing innovation pipelines. The course requires a commitment of at least 10 hours of work outside of class and comfort working on unstructured, interdisciplinary problems. Students with a strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship are particularly encouraged to enroll. Please read carefully the syllabus posted on-line before registering for this course.

    OIDD614002

  • OIDD654 - Product Management

    The course provides the student with a number of tools and concepts necessary for the contemporary practice of product management. The course is most relevant to those who hope to work as product managers, as well as for entrepreneurs who will typically serve as their venture's initial product managers. General managers and other functional managers may also find the course valuable to better understand the product management function. The key modules in the course comprise (a) creating something from nothing, (b) design and design thinking, (c) performance measurement and the communication of quantitative information, (d) agile development processes, and (e) managing growth. Alumni guest speakers in interesting product management roles will typically be scheduled weekly in the course. Many examples, tools, and methods will come from technology-based industries, but applications will also be drawn from financial services and consumer products. Most assignments will be completed for a focal product selected by each student, which could be an entrepreneurial project, something related to current or prior employment, or simply a product of personal interest. A recent Canvas site for the course is here, and should be viewable by the public. https://canvas.upenn.edu/courses/1529286 Other Information: Pedagogy includes lectures, small-group discussion, current and historical cases, podcasts, documentary films, and application of tools to a focal product. Most assignments are individual.

    OIDD654002 ( Syllabus )

Past Courses

  • EAS 499 - SENIOR CAPSTONE

    The Senior Capstone Project is required for all BAS degree students, in lieu of the senior design course. The Capstone Project provides an opportunity for the student to apply the theoretical ideas and tools learned from other courses. The project is usually applied, rather than theoretical, exercise, and should focus on a real world problem related to the career goals of the student. The one-semester project may be completed in either the fall or sprong term of the senior year, and must be done under the supervision of a sponsoring faculty member. To register for this course, the student must submit a detailed proposal, signed by the supervising professor, and the student's faculty advisor, to the Office of Academic Programs two weeks prior to the start of the term.

  • IPD 515 - PRODUCT DESIGN

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

  • MEAM099 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    An opportunity for the student to become closely associated with a professor in (1) a research effort to develop research skills and technique and/or (2) to develop a program of independent in-depth study in a subject area in which the professor and student have a common interest. The challenge of the task undertaken must be consistent with the student's academic level. To register for this course, the student and professor jointly submit a detailed proposal. Subject to the approval of the MEAM Undergraduate Curriculum Chair.

  • MEAM415 - PRODUCT DESIGN

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product, development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

  • MGMT418 - INDIA STARTUP ECOSYSTEM

    The objective of OIDD/MGMT 418 and the Wharton India Fellows program is to introduce Penn juniors to the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in India through a course covering topics in entrepreneurship, innovation, venture capital and technology in India and then matching students to a specific short-term project with a Bangalore-based early-stage startup or rapidly scaling company. Students will complete preliminary work on the project assignment during the course, and then travel as a group to Bangalore with the instructor for a two week immersion in the company to which they have been assigned for their entrepreneurship project. Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship will cover airfare and lodging expenses for students selected as Wharton India Fellows for the duration of the 2 week immersion in India. For more information: https://entrepreneurship.wharton.upenn.edu/wharton-india-fellows/

  • MGMT731 - TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY

    The course is designed to meet the needs of future managers, entrepreneurs, consultants and investors who must analyze and develop business strategies in technology-based industries. The emphasis is on learning conceptual models and frameworks to help navigate the complexity and dynamism in such industries. This is not a course in new product development or in using information technology to improve business processes and offerings. We will take a perspective of both established and emerging firms competing through technological innovations, and study the key strategic drivers of value creation and appropriation in the context of business ecosystems. The course uses a combination of cases, simulation and readings. The cases are drawn primarily from technology-based industries. Note, however, that the case discussions are mainly based on strategic (not technical) issues. Hence, a technical background is not required for fruitful participation.

  • MGMT806 - VENTURE IMPLEMENTATION

    This advanced course on entrepreneurship focuses on developing a validated opportunity or concept into a venture that is ready for seed financing and/or launching the product or service. Participants in this course must previously have developed a validated opportunity, either in a previous course or through independent efforts. Students may participate as a team of up to three people. Ideally, participants are committed to pursuing their opportunity commercially, or at least to seriously explore that possibility. The course provides a practical guidance for developing the product or service, forming the entity, raising capital building the team, establishing partnerships, and sourcing professional services. After completing the course, you will be "pitch ready" - whether submitting to campus venture competitions or to outside investors. Most coursework is focused on applying concepts and frameworks to project tasks in developing the venture. Students must have successfully completed MGMT 801 before enrolling in this course (or obtain the permission of the instructor). Format: Highly interactive Requirements: Class participation, interim assignments.

  • OIDD415 - PRODUCT DESIGN

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product, development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

  • OIDD418 - INDIA STARTUP ECOSYSTEM

    The objective of OIDD/MGMT 418 and the Wharton India Fellows program is to introduce Penn juniors to the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in India through a course covering topics in entrepreneurship, innovation, venture capital and technology in India and then matching students to a specific short-term project with a Bangalore-based early-stage startup or rapidly scaling company. Students will complete preliminary work on the project assignment during the course, and then travel as a group to Bangalore with the instructor for a two week immersion in the company to which they have been assigned for their entrepreneurship project. Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship will cover airfare and lodging expenses for students selected as Wharton India Fellows for the duration of the 2 week immersion in India. For more information: https://entrepreneurship.wharton.upenn.edu/wharton-india-fellows/

  • OIDD515 - PRODUCT DESIGN

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course isintended for students with a strong career interest in new product development, entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

  • OIDD614 - INNOVATION

    The course is first and foremost an intensive, integrative, project course in which student teams create one or more real businesses. Some businesses spun out of the course and now managed by alumni include Terrapass Inc. and Smatchy Inc. The project experience is an exciting context in which to learn key tools and fundamentals useful in innovation, problem solving, and design. Examples of these tools and fundamentals are: problem definition, identification of opportunities, generating alternatives, selecting among alternatives, principles of data graphics, and managing innovation pipelines. The course requires a commitment of at least 10 hours of work outside of class and comfort working on unstructured, interdisciplinary problems. Students with a strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship are particularly encouraged to enroll. Please read carefully the syllabus posted on-line before registering for this course.

  • OIDD652 - DES&DEV WEB-BASED PROD

    This course is designed as an introduction to the process of product design with a focus on Web-based desktop and mobile consumer products and services. This is a course on designing products as distinct from (and complementary to) building a business. The course is implemented as a team-based experiential learning exercise; students learn the design process by developing multiple prototypes of a Web/mobile-based product or service. Teams will apply different prototyping techniques (paper, wireframes, landing pages) over multiple iterations of their project. This is not a course on Web engineering. Technical skills are not a prerequisite. Neither should students expect to learn specific programming tools or techniques. This is not an entrepreneurship course. Students do not analyze business models, market size, pricing, costs, etc. This class introduces an iterative, data-driven, experiment-based design process. Through their project, students will practice multiple design iterations and gain exposure to tools for designing digital products and services.

  • OIDD654 - PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

    The course provides the student with a number of tools and concepts necessary for the contemporary practice of product management. The course is most relevant to those who hope to work as product managers, as well as for entrepreneurs who will typically serve as their venture's initial product managers. General managers and other functional managers may also find the course valuable to better understand the product management function. The key modules in the course comprise (a) creating something from nothing, (b) design and design thinking, (c) performance measurement and the communication of quantitative information, (d) agile development processes, and (e) managing growth. Alumni guest speakers in interesting product management roles will typically be scheduled weekly in the course. Many examples, tools, and methods will come from technology-based industries, but applications will also be drawn from financial services and consumer products. Most assignments will be completed for a focal product selected by each student, which could be an entrepreneurial project, something related to current or prior employment, or simply a product of personal interest. A recent Canvas site for the course is here, and should be viewable by the public. https://canvas.upenn.edu/courses/1529286 Other Information: Pedagogy includes lectures, small-group discussion, current and historical cases, podcasts, documentary films, and application of tools to a focal product. Most assignments are individual.

  • OIDD695 - SSF REGIONAL SEMINAR

    As part of the Wharton Semester in San Francisco (SSF) program, this course is designed to (i) provide integrative material that emphasizes links between finance, marketing, product design, negotiations, and other themes in the SSF academic curriculum; (ii) link classroom theories and principles to actual practice by reflecting on the academic literature and (iii) highlight the unique characteristics of, and the programs proximity to, the Bay Area economy. All students participating in the SSF are required to register for this Regional Seminar.

  • OIDD895 - GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK

Awards and Honors

  • Elective Teaching Award – Wharton Executive MBA Program, 2012-2015
  • Excellence in Teaching Award – Undergraduate Division, 2010
  • Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award – MBA Program, 2010
  • Excellence in Teaching Award – The Wharton School, 2007
  • Distinguished Fellow – POMS College of Product Innovation and Technology Management, 2006
  • Anvil Award – The Wharton School, 2000

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Which Companies Are Winning in China?

In their new book, Wharton’s Lele Sang and Karl Ulrich explore the successes and failures of several well-known companies in their attempts to enter China’s market of 1.4 billion consumers.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 1/19/2021
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