A generous gift from Hydro Flask, a Bend-based company that designs and manufactures insulated stainless steel beverage and food flasks, will allow Oregon State University – Cascades to pursue the development of a bachelor’s degree program focused on outdoor products.
The $250,000 gift will support the hiring of an industry-experienced and senior faculty member to lead the development of the degree proposal. The individual will work with regional outdoor product companies to understand the skill sets desired in future employees, develop the proposed curriculum and guide the proposal through the university and state approval process.
When launched, the program would be one of the few in the country focused on outdoor products. University officials anticipate the program will launch following the two-year development period and the appropriate approvals.
“We are grateful to Hydro Flask for the innovation and local industry perspective they have brought to OSU-Cascades’ academic planning,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of the Bend campus. “Their generous commitment will help us align even better with Central Oregon’s dynamic economic landscape, and particularly the growing outdoor product industry.”
Nearly 100 companies in the tri-county region manufacture and distribute recreation-related products, mostly for export outside of Central Oregon. Nationally, the outdoor products industry generates $121 billion in spending each year.
“We are excited to give OSU-Cascades students an opportunity to contribute to the growing field of outdoor products, and in a region that appreciates the natural environment and the importance of outdoor recreation in people’s lives,” said Hydro Flask general manager Scott Allan.
The proposed outdoor products program will teach students how to apply creativity and innovation in order to identify and develop new products that serve outdoor recreation customers. Courses will take students from product idea to market, and include subjects such as branding, finance, product engineering and manufacturing, supply chain, and marketing.
Local industries will be involved in shaping hands-on learning experiences for students, including internships and senior year capstone projects.