Three first-year Oregon MBA students spent a day in Portland this past January helping to develop ideas for the new home of the University of Oregon’s nascent Sports Product Management initiative.
Working side by side with students from the UO’s programs in product design, architecture, and interior architecture, the students brainstormed ways to transform an empty Portland Farmers Market storage space into a one-of-a-kind “maker's space” for students to design, create, and refine sports products. Called the White Stag Innovation Lab, the new space will foster creative interaction between students from the UO's programs in sports product management and product design as they work together to create new products.
Located below the Burnside Bridge, just across from the UO White Stag block, the lab will include spaces for collaboration and study. It will also house high-end manufacturing equipment students can use to make prototypes of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment.
Nike footwear design director (and UO adjunct instructor) Wilson Smith, project leader for the Sports Product Management initiative Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, and UO associate professor of architecture Rob Thallon led the daylong session—known to design professionals as a charrette.
“We expected that having business students on the team would not only bring the business perspective to the process but would also educate the business students about a design process,” said Thallon.
Hands-on experience building a prototype from start to finish will provide an unparalleled opportunity for students eager to enter the sports product business—even those whose career goals focus on management or marketing.
“The industry expects you to understand how a product is created and manufactured. But unless you’ve had hands-on experience, it’s hard to understand how you can change a product,” explained Elizabeth Brock, MBA ’14, who has spent the past year assisting the Sports Product Management initiative.
For Jeff Angus, MBA ’15, the day was both exhilarating and inspiring.
“I love the learning that is born out of interdisciplinary meetings and projects,” said Angus. “Often times the real world is not fragmented into specific industries or categories of knowledge, so the more diverse and well-rounded you can make yourself, the more doors you will be able to knock on in the future.”
Charrette participants won’t have long to wait to see their ideas at work. The new space is scheduled open by September 2014—just in time to host a week-long workshop on footwear basics held in conjunction with Ars Sutoria, the internationally known Italian footwear institute.
View the students’ work, read Angus's blog post about the day, visit the Sports Product Management website, and download a flyer describing the sports product workshop scheduled for this February.