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Getting from Idea to Product — New Audiobook From IEEE-USA

By Paul Lief Rosengren

In his new IEEE-USA audiobook, Ramneek Kalra leads readers through the six stages that take an idea all the way to a successful product. He includes detailed sections on each stage, including links to helpful resources to assist you along your journey.

The major stages Kalra outlines to take an idea and transform it into a product are:

  • Developing a problem statement
  • Choosing the right teammates and technology
  • Undertaking extensive research
  • Designing and producing a prototype
  • Securing rights
  • Developing the final product

In the section on the problem statement, Kalra outlines key who, what, why, when, where and how questions you need to answer. However, he stresses that in answering these questions, a problem statement should be concise, simple and reflect the “possibility of a solution not available at the current time.”

In the critical second stage, choosing a team and technology, Kalra urges the reader to “Choose the teammates who have the required skillsets to bring the project from a rough draft all the way to completion.” He offers a series of questions you should ask when pulling together a team — such as: Do members have the skills needed for success? What level of interest in the project will they have? Have they previously performed similar work? And, do they have a personality, and the communications skills to work well with the rest of the team? With the team in place, Kalra suggests you evaluate the right technology for your team — and not necessarily simply go with the latest technology.

The author moves on to the research stage, claiming this stage my intimidate many students, “because it takes a lot of time, devotion and patience.” However, he stresses that diligent research will allow you “to understand previous work others have done, and how your proposal/prototype is different from theirs.”

Kalra suggests starting your research with an extensive reading of publicly available information. He gives several sources for targeting this research, including using the public research portal in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library to identify ideas others have explored that might be related to your efforts,

With research complete, the author suggests the team tackle developing a prototype with a bare minimum of functionality, starting by assigning work modules to team members and developing a plan that includes module-based deadlines (he provides links to open-source tools available to keep track of your project’s progress).

With a working prototype complete, Kalra says is time to move to securing your intellectual property, by documenting the innovation (writing research papers), or applying for patents. He notes that these two approaches are mutually exclusive — you cannot apply for a patent, if your idea has been outlined in a research paper; and you cannot publish your work before, or while, you are in the patent process.

Kalra gives an outline of what he suggests makes up a strong research paper — providing details of what should be included in each section. The sections he recommends are:

  • Catchy Title & Subtitle
  • Abstract & Keywords
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review/Survey/Related Work
  • Methodology
  • Limitations/Future Scope
  • Conclusion
  • References

If you choose to patent your project instead, Kalra discusses two options available to you — using an agency office or filing for a patent on your own. He hints to his preference by stating that filing your own patent can be both “an educational and enjoyable experience.”

With your rights preserved, you are ready to move on to developing your final product!

Idea to Product: A Research Pathway for Students is a good audiobook to stimulate thinking; or to remind yourself of the steps from initial idea to product development — but take the opportunity to download the free companion e-book for the list of helpful links in several of the sections, and other important information. Both the audiobook and the e-book are available free to IEEE members at IEEE-USA’s Shop.

Ramneek Kalra works as a Project Engineer at Wipro Limited, India. He has spoken extensively on his model (Heldi — PVN, or Participation, Volunteering and Networking). His research interest areas include edge and cloud computing with emerging technologies. He is an active IEEE volunteer, including participation in IEEE’s Young Professional Affinity Group, IEEE Transmitter, IEEE Brand Ambassador Program, and the IEEE Delhi Section. Kalra received the J.K. Pal Award from the IEEE Delhi Section for his volunteer efforts. He lives in Sonipat, Haryana, India.

Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul is the coauthor of In the Time of Covid: One Hospital's Struggles and Triumphs. He worked for more than three decades in corporate communications at NBC, PSE&G, BD and in state government. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; and an undergraduate degree in political science from Dickinson College.

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