This Fall, Oregon State University-Cascades will offer a bachelor’s degree program in Outdoor Products, one of only a few colleges in the United States to do so.
The College of Engineering program aims to meet the demand for innovation and skilled workers in the active outdoor market—a $16.4 billion industry in Oregon and the nation’s third-largest area of consumer spending.
“Most people enter the outdoor industry circuitously and rarely right out of college,” said Geoff Raynak, executive director in residence of the degree program. “The OSU-Cascades outdoor product degree taps into all academic disciplines, exposes students to a rigorous curriculum and will develop industry leaders who can balance product, profit, people and the planet.”
Raynak said program graduates will be prepared for employment in outdoor product design and management, marketing, supply chain logistics, innovation engineering, and outdoor product entrepreneurs. Students will study design, development, manufacturing, testing, sustainability, corporate responsibility, stewardship of natural lands, and learn to understand the impact of a product’s life cycle.
The degree program was developed with input from more than 30 outdoor companies including Black Diamond, Columbia, Kialoa Paddles, Metolius Climbing, Nau, Nike, Patagonia, and Smartwool.
“The strong engagement of business leaders in helping develop this new academic program demonstrates the need for Oregon-based teaching and research in outdoor products and services,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades. “Outdoor companies in Central Oregon and beyond already have expressed interest in hosting student internships required for the degree.”
“Collaboration throughout OSU and with business and industry is how Oregon State University works to best serve Oregonians and the economy,” said Scott Ashford, the Kearney Dean of Engineering of the university’s College of Engineering. “Offering this program at OSU-Cascades is a perfect fit for Oregonians as well as the state’s growing and significant outdoor economy.”
A $250,000 gift in 2016 from Hydro Flask provided seed funding for the degree program allowing the University to embark on projects associated with the startup of the degree and to hire Raynak to develop, launch and lead the program. Hydro Flask team members helped develop the concept for the degree program.
Raynak’s experience includes product design in the Nike Innovation Kitchen, oversight of innovation and design at Ruffwear and managing product commercialization at local and global scales. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington.
The program will leverage creative production and maker space in an academic building under design and construction on the OSU-Cascades campus. Implementation of the new degree program is pending support by the Oregon Public Universities’ Provost Council and The State Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
Photo courtesy Oregon State University-Cascades