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Utah State to Offer Degree in Outdoor Apparel and Product Design

17 Aug, 2015


Utah State University will become the home of the nation’s first undergraduate degree in designing and constructing outdoor apparel and products.

On July 31, the Utah State Board of Regents approved the new Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Product Design and Development program. Students will be able to enroll in the program as early as this fall.

Lindsey Shirley, an associate professor of family and consumer sciences education and a USU Extension clothing and textiles specialist, created the program in response to demand for trained product designers in the growing outdoor products industry.

“In Utah, we have a unique opportunity to offer a career pathway program to students that meets an industry demand for technical designers,” said Shirley, who plans to attend the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this week in Salt Lake City. “If Utah is the premiere place for outdoor recreation, then it should be the premiere place to train product development professionals for the outdoor industry.”

The program is built on 13 new courses specifically related to the outdoor products industry and will incorporate existing courses in ethics, natural resources, sustainability, drafting and design, chemistry, marketing and textiles.

“It is my dream to implement this first-of-its-kind degree program in a way that provides students world-class preparation for a career that inspires, motivates and empowers them toward success,” Shirley said. “This program will not only prepare a workforce, but it will continue to make our local, state and global community strong.”

Shirley has worked closely with many outdoor product manufacturers to develop the program and will teach students the skills that are needed in the industry. Utah-based Blackpine Sports is among the companies that hopes to benefit from a new stream of well-trained designers, and the camping gear manufacturer has committed to fund the first scholarship for students in the new program.

“I believe the outdoors industry is a little different than other markets,” said Matthew Lawrence, Blackpine Sports’ director of operations. “It’s because our customers are so brand loyal and passionate about what they do. What we offer people is an experience. No one buys camping and outdoor gear because they have to. They buy it because they want to. This makes them more picky and enthusiastic about what they buy. Having a degree program like this will finally connect the passion people have for outdoor experiences with the skill set necessary to be successful designers.”

Shirley looks forward to strengthening relationships with companies in Utah and nationally to stay abreast of emerging needs and technologies, and to provide with students with opportunities to gain experience in solving problems unique to the outdoor industry.

The new degree program is in Utah State University’s School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education. For more information, contact Shirley at Lindsey.Shirley@USU.edu, (435) 797-3410.

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