Five design students from around the country have been chosen to compete in the ninth cycle of Project OR, the industry's original 48-hour concept-to-prototype design competition held during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market August 2-5, 2012.

The five Summer Market 2012 competitors are:

  • Abby Nurre – Junior at University of Cincinnati. Avid rock climber who uses weekend outdoor road trips to soak in inspiration. Minoring in chemistry to better understand textile innovation.
  • Jeannette Ray Sheridan – Junior at Framingham State University. Winter Olympic fan who loves to be active and outdoors. Aspires to help people live happier and healthier lives through clothing.
  • Katy Jessee – Senior at Missouri State University. Recently completed a utilitarian work wear inspired men's collection for MSU school fashion show. Finds joy in taking an idea from sketch to final product.
  • Kaylyn Smith – Junior at Baylor University. Secretary of the Baylor student apparel organization and dances as a Baylor Songleader. Lifelong seamstress and creator of apparel. 
  • Rachel Aihara – Junior at California Polytechnic University Pomona. Proud Southern California native with a passion for swimwear. Places importance on the technological aspects of design and production.

Expanded biographies for each of the student contestants are available on the Summer Market Project OR web page.

“These high-achieving students infuse enthusiasm and bring fresh perspective to the design side of our event,'' said Kenji Haroutunian, vice president at Nielsen Expositions and OR show director. “We're excited to give them a chance to learn about cutting-edge performance fabrics, garment components and applications, and hopeful to see great ideas on how they might inspire new trends in the outdoor industry.''

On opening morning of the show, the students will be given a design brief from which they'll make initial sketches, source materials from the fabric and garment component manufacturers on the show floor, and race the clock to build a prototype before the 48-hour time limit expires.

The final prototypes will be judged by a panel of Outdoor Retailer-selected design, supplier and manufacturer industry professionals that will carefully review each stage of the contestants' work. The winner of Project OR Cycle 9 will be declared the afternoon of day three after each designer has given a final presentation.

Project OR is possible through support from the outdoor and textile industries. Hyperbola is a supporting sponsor of Project OR; Cycle 9 sponsors also include Cordura, GE/eVent, Invista, Rogers Corp, Schoeller, YKK and media partners, Textile Insight and WGSN. Project OR is directed by Eric Steele of Steele Media and guided by academic liaison Kathlyn Swantko of Fabriclink.

For more information about Project OR sponsorship opportunities or becoming a Project OR supplier, please contact Marisa Nicholson at or 949.226.5760.