Utah State University’s Outdoor Product Design and Development program announced a partnership with Altra Footwear that will improve lab facilities and provide internships with over 50 international and national companies. This announcement was in line with one from the Outdoor Industry Association that reported the recreation economy generated 7.6 million jobs and 887 billion dollars in consumer spending in 2016. Outdoor Product Design and Development program coordinator, Adrian Roadman, said we are just now grasping the extensive size of this industry.
“I personally see the outdoor industry as anything that involves engagement with our natural world. Usually that’s defined in the context of recreation but for me it overlaps as well into employment, conservation, engaging with wildlife, wild spaces, or anything that gets you out into that space” said Roadman.
Currently this workforce includes professionals from a hodgepodge of disciplines including industrial and graphic design, engineering, business and art. In January of 2016 Utah State started the OPDD program to fill a much needed hole in the training and education of outdoor trade employees.
“Our curriculum is really well rounded in that our students get expose to business, marketing, production, manufacturing, design, color theory, design thinking, some psychology of different aspects of design, as well as sustainability and environmental studies. They also get lots of hands-on experience so they can jump into the outdoor industry in a leadership position” said, Roadman.
Other hands on experience includes working with raw materials such as cloth, wood, metals and polymers to create outdoor products that will be functional, durable and marketable. This unique program aims to train students to develop gear from an idea all the way through the design, production, prototyping, sales and marketing process. The first cohort of 40 students in the OPDD program will graduate in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science.