Utah State is First to Offer Outdoor Product Design Degree

The field of product design has continued to grow and change in the last several decades, and it will continue to do so in the years to come.  One university is attempting to get ahead of the curve in one area, that of outdoor product design.  Utah State University will become the first school in…

The field of product design has continued to grow and change in the last several decades, and it will continue to do so in the years to come.  One university is attempting to get ahead of the curve in one area, that of outdoor product design.  Utah State University will become the first school in the country that offers an undergraduate degree in Outdoor Product Design.  This degree program allows students to design and build outdoor products and apparel, an area that is particularly suited to a state that attracts thousands of outdoor enthusiasts every year.

Highlights of the Program

The program is slated to feature thirteen courses that cover areas such as resources, sustainability, ethics, drafting, chemistry, marketing, and textiles.  While many other design schools cover such areas, the major focus of the degree program will be on the specific challenges inherent in applying these factors to the outdoors.  According to Lindsey Shirley, an associate professor at Utah State who created the program, Utah has more than 1,000 outdoor product companies, and many of these companies have expressed frustration in designers’ lack of familiarity with outdoor challenges.

Meeting Specific Needs

Many of the companies that Shirley spoke to indicated that a great deal of on-the-job training was required.  It’s her hope that this new program will reduce that need and increase the marketability of students from Utah State University.  Outdoor recreation plays a huge role in Utah’s economy, so the state has a vested interest in keeping talent in the state.  The recreation industry contributes over $5.8 billion and 65,000 jobs annually.  Outdoor design must consider issues such as temperature changes, weather, durability, and visibility that simply aren’t as much of a factor for indoor products.

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