E/SEC 103, Winter 2024

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Management of Technology


  • Richard Murray (CDS/BE), Stu Feldman, Eric Schmidt
  • Lectures: Mon/Wed, 1:30-2:55 pm
  • Office hours: Wed, 3-3:45 pm, Annenberg lounge

Teaching Assistants

  • Matt Kratz, Sabera Talukder
  • Office hours: Fri, 1:30-3 pm, 213 ANB

This is the course homepage for E/SEC 103, Winter 2024. This course is limited enrollment and auditors are not allowed. All students interested in participating must fill out a pre-enrollment survey prior to the end of the pre-registration period. Names for students selected for the course will be given to the Registrar to be enrolled as long as there are no time conflicts. A wait list will be available in case any spaces open up.

Catalog Description

This course is intended for students interested in learning how rapidly evolving technologies are harnessed to produce useful products or fertile new area for research. Students will work learn about how technology and innovation leaders identify and shape emerging technologies and how technology can be harnessed and scaled to create new products and services. There will be a term project where students predict the future evolution of an exciting technology and explore the potential implications of that technology. The course is team-based and designed for students considering choosing an exciting research area, working in companies (any size, including start-ups), or eventually going to business school. Topics include technology as a growth agent, financial fundamentals, integration into other business processes, product development pipeline and portfolio management, learning curves, risk assessment, technology trend methodologies (scenarios, projections), motivation, rewards and recognition. Industries considered will include electronics (hardware and software), aerospace, medical, biotech, etc. Students will perform both primary and secondary research and present defensible projections based on their technology research.

Learning Objectives

  • Teach students how to identify and analyze new technology areas/trends and explore the potential new applications of those technologies with potential for large impact
  • Provide students with access to technology leaders in different fields who can provide new insights, ideas on how to manage technology, and help build students’ networks
  • Identify new areas of research for potential investment by funding agencies and philanthropic organizations, with anticipated roadmap/path to impact

Lecture Schedule

Week Date Topic Lecturer(s)
W1 3 Jan (Wed) Class organization and logistics RM
5 Jan (Fri) Optional brainstorming session TAs
W2 8 Jan (Mon) ES talk + project pitches SF, RM, ES
10 Jan (Wed) Quantifying Technological Progress (De Weck, Ch 4) RM
W3 15 Jan (Mon) No class (Martin Luther King Day)
17 Jan (Wed) Definite/indefinite thinking and optimism/pessimism (Thiel, Ch 6) ST
W4 22 Jan (Mon) Best practices for carrying out interviews (Fitzpatrick, Ch 3 and 8) MK
24 Jan (Wed) Fermi Problems SF
W5 29 Jan (Mon) Patents and Intellectual Property (De Weck, Ch 5) RM
31 Jan (Wed) 2023 midterm/final presentation example RM
W6 5 Feb (Mon) External speaker AK
7 Feb (Wed)* Monopolies (Thiel Ch 3 and Ch 5) ST
W7 12 Feb (Mon) Midterm presentations (1:30-3:45 pm) SF, RM, ES
14 Feb (Wed) Midterm feedback RM
W8 19 Feb (Mon) No class (Presidents Day)
21 Feb (Wed) Systems Modeling and Technology Sensitivity Analysis (De Weck, Ch 11) RM
W9 26 Feb (Mon) Project presentations to instructors (for feedback) SF, RM
28 Feb (Wed)* No class
W9 4 Mar External Speaker BG
6 Mar (Wed) No class
Finals 11 Mar (Mon) Final presentations SF, RM, ES
15 Mar (Fri) Final report due


  • 20% - Class participation: Based on participation in class, online, and team discussions
  • 20% - Midterm presentation: Team-based score content + presentation; individual score based 1-page write up
  • 30% - Final presentation: Team-based score content + presentation
  • 30% - Final writeup: Team-based report + 2-page individual writeup on your contributions + summary of contributions from teammates

Collaboration Policy

This is a team-based class. Full collaboration is allowed and students are encouraged to discuss course materials, homework assignments, and projects with anyone that they choose. Course homework assignments are designed to be done as a group, but reports should reflect your individual understanding of the topic and/or your team's joint efforts, as appropriate.

Course Text and References

  1. [De Weck] Olivier L. De Weck, Technology Roadmapping and Development: A Quantitative Approach to the Management of Technology. 1st edition, Springer, 2022. Available via Springer Link (free Caltech download)
  2. [Fitzpatrick] Rob Fitzpatrick, The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers and Learn if Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You, https://www.momtestbook.com, 2013.
  3. [Thiel] Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Crown Currency, 2014. Available from Apple, Amazon, and other sellers.