University of Oregon

Department of Product Design

Adaptive Design

Adaptive Products is a user-based studio class, designed to challenge students’ problem solving skills and foster their capacity for empathy. The class faces many difficult and uncommon constraints, working alongside athletes with disabilities. Students create innovative product designs that enable athletes to manifest their sports potential.

The course is a ten-week studio experience that includes all aspects of product creation from user-centric insights, product design creation and final presentation. This studio course is for students seeking to build a complete portfolio project.

Adaptive Design related blog posts:

Winter 2016

Adaptive Products | Enabling Athletes with Disabilities contines. . . .this term taught by instructors, Wilson Smith, III; Matt Rhoades, and Bruce Kilgore.

Check out images from this term's course focusing on working with wheelchair athlete, Seth McBride. McBride visited the studio to explain firsthand key design features that would help improve a wheelchair rugby athlete's comfort and safety in the game. 
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Winter 2015 and Winter 2014

Adaptive Products | Enabling Athletes with Disabilities is a "real life" user-based studio class, designed to challenge student's problem solving skills and foster their character for empathy.  The class will face many difficult and uncommon constraints working along side athletes with disabilities. Students will be tasked to create innovate product designs that will enable the potential for the athlete's sport pursuits.

Images from a 2015 visit by Nike's Tom Rushbrook can be viewed on the UO AAA Facebook page.  Tom Rushbrook, Design Director in Innovation at Nike talked to students in the studio and discussed his insights regarding the field of design innovation and creativity.

Winter 2013

The 2013 winter studio focused on individuals who have experienced physically altering and traumatic situations during war or day-to-day life having already returned to civilian life.  All the “wounded warriors” were veterans, each having sustained a life-changing injury: from a catastrophic traffic accident to getting caught in a grenade ambush, the injuries whether suffered during active duty or civilian life altered day-to-day existence. These men, despite their situations, carried on and pursued active interests, excelling in their sport of choice.

Instructors, Wilson Smith and Bob Lucas saw an opportunity to help contribute to the dreams and aspirations of these wounded warriors and, by doing so, create a program that would benefit the athletes and add to the educational experience of the students. By acknowledging both the body and the courage of these determined individuals, Smith and Lucas have carried the athletic torch of "every'body' as an “athlete” with a new magic.

The goals of the course:

  1. To work with rarified users to identify new product/innovative opportunities by developing critical thinking analysis, and empathy and interviewing/listening skills
  2. To develop an ability to communicate ideas and concepts visually by improving sketching and rapid-visualization skills and by utilizing both analog and digital tools.
  3. To develop the ability to communicate the big design idea through storytelling by identifying key messages and verbally presenting them with clarity, simplicity and impact.

View images from the 2012 studio here. And read the about the launch of the studio and the students' work on the AAA Blog.