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LOGAN — The Utah State University Outdoor Product Design and Development program had its first graduating class this past May — and with that, their first batch of final projects.
The items were presented at the Senior Exhibit, showcasing student creations which involved either building entirely new gear or improving upon existing gear in the outdoor industry, according to Chase Anderson, program coordinator. The projects ranged from revolutionized fishing waders to hammock tents.
“The program is an undergraduate degree here on the Logan campus at Utah State University,” Anderson told KSL.com. “It’s a bachelor of science and a four-year degree focused on training the next generation of product designers and developers for the outdoor and active industries.”
Over the years students accumulate a variety of skills in the process of creating outdoor products, Anderson said. They begin by learning how to put their ideas onto paper through sketches, then create them digitally and then finally translate them into physical prototypes using the sewing lab, machine shop and more.
“Over the four years they can choose an emphasis and focus their degree on what they’re most passionate about, whether that’s studying apparel design or more hard product design and gear,” Anderson explained. “We’ve got students who have just focused on footwear as well.”
The Outdoor Product Design and Development program had their first graduating class in May and some of the students have since been placed at companies like Columbia Sportswear, Black Diamond, Patagonia, Under Armor, Klymit, Browning and others, according to Anderson.
At the Senior Exhibit these talented students showed off their projects. Here are a few from the showcase:
Woolly Snuggers Waders
Natalie Cullum designed fly-fishing waders that were made to better compliment a woman’s body shape, according to Outside. She implemented a zippered gusset to keep the fit slim and increase the range of motion.
“That got the attention of Orvis, a hunting and fishing company based in Vermont,” Anderson said. “She posted her designs on instagram and that got the attention of designers from the company, which reached out to her. She ended up being offered a job and is working there now.”
River rafting dry suit optimized for women
“River Mckay is with Backcountry right now in Park City and is going to be a senior in the fall,” Anderson said. “Similar story: she wanted to make a dry suit for river rafting and wanted to design it in a way that was a little more feminine and would be a little more flattering to wear. Instead of designing products designed for men and then you shrink it and pink it, she wanted to make something that she felt truly represented herself.”
She successfully designed a dry suit entirely using on-campus tools, according to Anderson.
“She sketched it out, designed it digitally and then took the materials and prototyped about ten different versions of a dry suit. She worked with some of the great technology we have here on campus and she cut up the fabric on a laser cutter, tried it on, see if it fit or didn’t fit, made adjustments and just kept iterating on that process until she came out with a product she was really happy with.”
Learning the technology helped her to get the position at Backcountry, Anderson said. She’s helping them with designing their own products now.
“We’ve got another student who has been working with an existing company that spun out of the Lassonde Center at the University of Utah,” Anderson said. “It’s called LIT Outdoors, and it’s a self-standing hammock tent. They initially had the idea but they reached out and wanted to see if a member of our design team would want to collaborate.”
One of the program’s seniors has been working with them for around a year and helped them to refine the idea until it was kickstarter-ready, according to Anderson.
“That kickstarter had some really great success,” he said. “They well exceeded their goal there. The (campaign) got $175,000 raised for their product.”
As the program launches into its fifth year in operation, Anderson is excited to see what students will come up with next.
“It’s pretty interesting to see our students design products and then go work for companies or design products and then help start companies,” he said. “That’s what’s pretty appealing about our program is that we can really go any direction.”