Designing sneakers for Nike or Adidas seems like a dream job to many. But it’s a dream that’s becoming a reality for students in the UO’s Sports Product Management program in Portland, which just graduated its inaugural class in March.
The first-of-its kind, 18-month program allows students the chance to not only design their own shoes, but also actually guide them through the process of becoming a physical product — including factory trips to China. The program is the focus of a recent article on the Sole Collector website.
The program’s founder, Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, got the idea during her 27-year career working at Nike, where she realized that there wasn’t a school teaching what she did. She was lucky enough to learn from Bill Bowerman, who approached her to test shoes when she ran track at the UO. But not everyone can expect a legendary mentor.
And that’s where the Sports Product Management program comes into play. Students receive expert instruction, and they get it in one of the biggest sportswear hubs in the world.
“People call it the Silicon Valley of footwear and athletic companies,” said Kevin Derr, a student in the program. “Being here, it’s where it’s all really happening. I made a lot of connections that probably would’ve never happened if I were somewhere else.”
Those connections are translating to real-world results: Of the 37 members of the first class, which graduated in March, 15 already have jobs, and several others have offers pending.
For more, read “Inside the Sneaker School That’s Sending Students Directly to the Industry” on Sole Collector.