Product design at the UO


Product design

Story by Ed Dorsch, BA ’94 (English, Sociology), MA ’99 (Journalism)

Exploring the art, science and business of things that make life better

Product design majors create things we use every day: coats, sofas, and computers. Also tools, means of transport and toys (the list is long). Ultimately, the goal is to meet people’s needs in ways that make life easier, better and more sustainable.

Every new product starts with an idea. But this is only the beginning. Here, students collaborate to create new ideas – for useful things, favorite things, even life-saving things.

Then they roll up their sleeves and get to work. Coursework includes consumer research, materials science, manufacturing, and more. A focus on professional networking, industry collaboration, design competitions, and internships helps prepare students for success.

Our program in product design

Inspiration, Collaboration, Iteration

Forget the myth of the light bulb moment. Innovation comes from hard work, teamwork and multiple drafts.

Product design students start with ideas and then refine them (a lot). They get feedback from their peers, as well as faculty members with industry experience. Then they try new directions and work on their designs until they’re done. Pro Tip: Your product design is never really finished.

Here, your classroom could be a workshop or a studio. And what you do in class is close to what you will do as a professional. Through a stimulating creative process, students build impressive prototypes and portfolios.

Undergraduates at OU can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design, and majors spend their final year at OU’s Portland campus. Students learn about materials, idea generation, prototyping and fabrication. Rigorous academic requirements include consumer research, design history and theory, and more.

When not on the books, product designers make things. They fabricate steel and mold ceramics and plastics. They use old-school woodworking tools and state-of-the-art 3D printing. And they collaborate with industry partners to explore real-world problems and practical solutions.

Product design majors also join a creative community, collaborating to discover solutions to global design challenges. Sustainability is the cornerstone of the program. Students and faculty explore greener manufacturing solutions, as well as products that promote sustainable living.

Graduates went on to work at Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Tesla and Intel. Many have also started their own businesses. Graduate students can complete a Master of Science in Sports Product Design program at UO’s Portland campus.

We mean business

Graduates of UO’s Product Design program have gone on to work for:

  • Adidas
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • Intel
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Nike
  • Ruffwear
  • You’re here
  • West Elm Furniture

Above, LR:
Biometric articulation of the Mila Penrith / Anisoptera chair
Yaw Agyemang / Phantom Knight Shin Guard
Robbie King/Ansel! compact digital camera and associated application

Center, LR:
Will Whiting / Water Bear Emergency Preparedness Backpack
Abi Carlson / Oh sugar consumption app for ADHD
Automotive Head-Up Display TJ Low / Cruise Control

Below, LR:
Erasmo Delgado / Emotion Stones help for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Audrey Zerr / Elio circadian lighting
Anna Geffen/Sellie Montessori Inspired Toys

View All Capstone Projects


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