Cornell University is celebrating a new online product design and development certificate program with an inauguration event contest on this blog awarding the best story about “your biggest challenge when launching a new product or service.” The winner and, for that matter, any other good entries, will appear on this blog as long as it or they are good reads (and I will edit). And the winner will also appear at the website.

Contest rules: Tell your story. Send it to me using this form on my site. Aim for no more than 300 words (“aim for” means don’t sweat it if you have 325, OK?), give me some web addresses so I can see for myself (if possible). Do it within the next week (from the day this appeared: August 3, 2009).

Nothing confidential: Remember, please, that I’m a blogger. If you don’t want your story posted where anybody can see it, then don’t send it.

Why enter? Just for entering you get $100 off of $3,000+ tuition for this certificate program. The winner gets 10 percent off tuition. Tuition is either $3,750 or $3,375 for early enrollment. I choose the winner.

What do I get out of it? Stories to tell. Nothing more. Organizers asked me to use my blog to do this, and I said yes. There’s no money involved.

Legal stuff: This isn’t a drawing or a lottery. Entry is free. You don’t have to buy anything. The prize is a 10 percent discount off of the certificate program’s $3,750 (or $3,375 if you enroll early) tuition to the winner. And Cornell offers a $100 discount off of that tuition to everybody who enters, just for entering.

The program itself, brainchild of Cornell’s systems engineering professor Peter Jackson,

“. . . takes entrepreneurs through an eight-step methodology and structured process for taking an idea or product to the point where it can be handed off for completion.”

That’s from the Cornell press release about the new program. A “certificate program” means what it sounds like. If you take this course and complete it, you earn a certificate from Cornell saying you did. That’s not a bad thing. Education is nice, and certification makes it even nicer. You can go to this page for enrollment and more detailed information.

And while I may be partial to the schools I have degrees from, this is Cornell. That’s a great logo to have on your office wall.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.