Sports Product Design Graduate Student Profiles

First-Year Sports Product Design Graduate Students

Anticipated graduation for first-year students is June 2025.

Heather Blaikie

Photograph of Heather Blaikie

Heather's mission is making the transformative power of the outdoors and movement more accessible. After a decade as a design consultant and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area, her love for the outdoors led her to Portland. Here, she enjoys outdoor yoga and hiking with her wife and dogs. Heather specializes in innovating sport and outdoor products in UO SPD’s program, building on her strategic design, research, and computational skills. With a B.S. in Industrial Design and a certificate in Organizational Psychology from Georgia Tech, she launched her career contributing to designs for Alfex Swiss Watch, earning a Red Dot Award.

Heather excels in leading creative teams and shaping design strategy, with a portfolio including accessory designs for major brands including Michael Kors, ModCloth, BCBG, and Steve Madden. She has shared her expertise by teaching 3D Modeling and Human-Centered Design at the Academy of Art University and California College of the Arts, as well as facilitating Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship workshops in Portland Public Schools.


Chloe Burchard

Photograph of Chloe Burchard

Chloe grew up in Northbridge, Massachusetts where she learned to snowboard in the nearby mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. A daring yet clumsy athlete, Chloe found herself in casts as often as she found herself on her board. These experiences led her to grow a deep love and respect for the sport. Coupled with her desire to self-express through clothing, Chloe felt inspired to design snowboarding and outdoor apparel. She earned a B.S. in Retail Entrepreneurship from Florida State University, specializing in product development. During her time in undergrad, she developed a strong passion for soft goods and innovation, excelling in textile science. Chloe is a nature lover and enjoys connecting deeply with each environment she’s in, often ideating on apparel design that allows us to thrive outdoors. After college Chloe spent two years in Denver, CO working as a Merchandising Manager; enhancing both her knowledge of apparel and her love for nature.

Chloe enjoys challenging herself by developing ideas that push boundaries, looking towards future innovation in a field that is ever-changing. An enthusiastic leader: she is goal-oriented and a natural collaborator. She is focused on outdoor apparel that meets the needs of athletes while simultaneously sparking new innovations in utility. A mission of hers is to break down the binary that often separates self-expression and functionality in women’s sports apparel.


SJ Han

Photograph of SJ Han

Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, SJ developed a strong passion for athleticism, engaging in various sports like biathlon, skiing, triathlon, kayaking, judo, and yoga, all of which emphasized extreme sports to efficient body movement.

After completing military service in South Korea, his interest shifted to professional weightlifting, prompting research into injury prevention, muscle mass increase, and diet management. With several years of dedicated experience in weightlifting and personal training, SJ established a solid foundation in body mechanics. While studying Industrial design at Pratt Institute, he provided free personal training to students, where he observed the contentious role of weightlifting tools in the gym. SJ understood the tools’ value for intermediate to professional athletes but also recognized the potential drawbacks for beginners. This led him to be more focused on designing weightlifting shoes and fitness accessories from Industrial design to Sports product design.

This experience, coupled with his work and studying in Seoul and NYC, equipped him with the knowledge to select suitable materials for athletic apparel and design gear that prevents injuries while facilitating precise body movements, all informed by his deep understanding of effective motion and personal experience-based consumer insights.


John Helf

Photograph of John Helf

Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John is a footwear designer who is passionate about helping others build community through storytelling and intentional training.

John grew up playing soccer and basketball, cheering on the Green Bay Packers, wearing eccentric sneakers, and watching movies. His love of athletics and aesthetics provided the perfect groundwork for pursuing his master's in Sports Product Design at the University of Oregon, where he intends on furthering his mission to empower individuals to embrace their strengths and stories.

Prior to beginning his journey at the University of Oregon, John earned a Bachelor of Science in Film Studies and a Master of Science in Design + Innovation from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Through these programs, John learned skills in design thinking, research methodology, as well as graphic, communication, and product design.

In his free time, John loves going to the gym, working on his fantasy novel, and adding to his sneaker collection.


Quinn Jensen

Photograph of Quinn Jensen

From an early age, Quinn was immersed in competitive sports–running and swimming. She synthesized her interests in sports and design at Parsons School of Design. Her thesis at Parsons focused on integration of bio textiles and 3-D modeling for sneakers. Quinn’s design philosophy is to make a positive impact on the planet and bring happiness to people’s daily lives. She sees the U of O Sports Product Design program as an opportunity to further coalesce her design and athletic experiences.

Quinn has worked with various brands as a freelancer and intern. Design projects encompass graphics, fine art, fashion, interior and landscape. A long-term goal is to contribute to the creative direction of a collaborative company. She enjoys both the process and result of projects and is passionate about color theory and performance shoe design.


Atharv Karnik

Photograph of Atharv

Atharv Karnik was born in India. Growing up he developed a liking for sports and extracurricular activities. He likes basketball and was a vital part of his high school team. He was exposed to shoes at an early age due to their performance-changing abilities.

While playing basketball he suffered an ACL Ligament injury and fractured his knee. That was a turning point in his life. While going through the rehabilitation process, he asked the doctors why he suffered a major injury even after being healthy and regularly practicing the sport. To find the answers to these questions he decided to enroll himself in Footwear Designing course. While studying he found the answer to his questions, the process of finding the answers made him fall in love with problem solving design.

With a Bachelors in Footwear Design and Production from Footwear Design and Development Institute of India in 2023. He has decided to take his skillset to the next level by enrolling in the University of Oregon’s Sports Product Design in hopes of solving many problems in the sports world as well as pushing the limits of human sporting excellence.


Leif Roswold

Photograph of Leif

Leif grew up on a small island in the Puget Sound which instilled in him a lifelong love of outdoor recreation and the gear that makes it possible. An avid snowboarder, backpacker, and explorer, he is passionate about the technology and storytelling that go into making world-class sports products.

Previously, Leif worked in the television industry as a W.G.A. West writer, where he honed his creative process and collaborated with teams of artisans to bring a dynamic array of content to life. After some pandemic-induced soul-searching, Leif moved back home to the Northwest where he has been inspired to start creating products which help others connect with the world around them. A relentless creator, tinkerer, and problem solver, Leif plans to utilize his adaptability and skills as an ideator to develop equipment and soft goods that inspire athletes from all walks of life.



Rue Rupprecht

Photograph of Rue Rupprecht

Rue was born and raised in Denver, CO. Rue grew up in a four-season outdoor sports environment and participated in a variety of team sports until she attended University of Colorado at Boulder (CU). While at CU Boulder, she earned an undergraduate degree in Engineering Plus (mechanical engineering + pre-med), a Biomedical Engineering Minor, and an Engineering Leadership Certificate in 2020. Among various internships in the biomedical industry working in research and startups focused on biomedical devices, Rue worked full time as an engineer at Medtronic for 3 years from 2020 – 2023 on different products specific to cardiovascular health.

During her time at CU, Rue was encouraged to stay active by the lifestyle that the Boulder community encompasses. Rue found a love and appreciation for physical activities such as rock climbing, trail running, yoga, hiking, HIIT, and weight training. She continues to find balance with various forms of exercise wherever she is and enjoys teaching part-time at Corepower Yoga. She is also becoming a personal trainer and nutritionist to further support her passion to not only live an active and healthy lifestyle but encourage others to do so too.

Through the last three years, Rue has moved from Denver, CO to Minneapolis, MN to Petaluma, CA, San Francisco, CA, and is excited to now be in Portland, Oregon! Despite her moves, she has continued living a highly active lifestyle that helps her learn from and connect with the community she is surrounded by, no matter where it is. Rue desires to build on her past academic and industry experiences in engineering and her firsthand experiences as an athlete, an instructor, and an active member in the fitness community to create quality products for elite athletes as well as everyday consumers.


Evan Spurgeon

Photograph of Evan Spurgeon

Evan loves riding bikes through the woods and town as fast as possible, a face full of snow on a powder day, and a walk to the park with his wife and two dogs. He grew up in the Southeast and has always enjoyed the outdoors in any ways he can. He has been a bike and ski technician, a chef on dive cruises, an outdoor gear pro, and a guide for whitewater, mountain biking, and backpacking trips.

After graduating from Auburn University’s Industrial Design program in 2015, Evan has spent his days surrounded by the gear that he depends on. During the 15 years he has been working in the outdoor industry, Evan noticed how quickly some products started to fail or break down. He sees having to mend or replace a worn-out jacket or riding pants every year or two as being a financial and environmental waste. With his hands-on experience and ability to relate to users of all skill levels, Evan plans to create gear that will last. Some athletes live in their gear day-to-day, and this gear should be able to hold up to daily use for a long time. Evan strives to design tough, technical equipment and soft goods that make the outdoor industry more sustainable and keep our natural world beautiful for longer.


Lulu West

Photograph of Lulu

Lulu was raised in Niceville, Florida, where her love of water-based sports began, such as competitive swimming, water polo, and diving. As a teenager, Lulu moved to Alabama for her competitive swimming career but faced a severe setback from a spinal cord injury. This pushed her to explore other outlets, such as weightlifting, hiking, and yoga, and sparked her passion for rehabilitative sciences and athletic performance. She pursued a Biomedical Engineering degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, focusing on biomechanics and neuroengineering.

During her undergraduate years, Lulu researched biomechanics, lower-limb kinesiology, and sports performance, resulting in an internship at the Lakeshore Foundation during the 2022 World Games. After training camps with Team USA Wheelchair Basketball and Team USA Wheelchair Rugby, Lulu was motivated to combine her love of design with her passion for rehabilitation sciences. This resulted in a unique capstone project – a performance-enhancing sports chair cushion for high-point wheelchair athletes.

Lulu is driven to create a more inclusive and accessible athletic community, challenging traditional body standards in athletic design. She aims to innovate and design exceptional sports products for athletes with disabilities, female athletes, and athletes who challenge body stereotypes.


Second-Year Sports Product Design Graduate Students

Anticipated graduation for second-year students is June 2024.

Sky Bunker

Portrait photo of smiling SPD student Sky Bunker in front of a brick wall.

Sky was born and raised in Wolverine, Michigan. At one year old, he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain stem tumor. After having the tumor successfully removed, his family was informed that he would never be able to participate in full-contact sports due to the likelihood of brain injuries. However, this would not deter Sky from being part of those sports. In high school, he was the statistician and equipment manager for the varsity football team. This role sparked his interest in sports products.

Sky earned his undergraduate degree in Material Science and Engineering with a concentration in manufacturing from Michigan State University in 2021. He then spent a gap year in Seattle where he worked retail at REI, gaining knowledge of footwear and apparel in preparation for his studies in sports product design at the University of Oregon. He is particularly interested in researching and designing new equipment that protects the brain from injury in full-contact sports so that others like him can participate.


Aeryk Catipon

Photograph of a smiling SPD student, Aeryk Catipon, in front of a brick wall.

Aeryk graduated from George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs. From there his career brought him to work in the electronics manufacturing and engineering industry for the New York City subway system—with roles such as Quality Assurance, Product Designer and Project Management. Along the way, he discovered a love for long distance running, fixed gear bikes, backpacking, and the outdoors. As a result, he left his job as a Project Manager to work as a Customer Experience Guide for Patagonia, and then moved across the country to study Sports Product Design.

Aeryk is a hands-on doer that works through the largest of problems by breaking it down into smaller parts. He is most energized in setting goals and achieving them. He also recognizes the potential in others and seeks to harness their success. Aeryk is currently interested in the use of recycled materials and emerging technologies for running and outdoor apparel innovations. He believes technical performance apparel will improve the lives of everyday athletes.

Aeryk’s Portfolio

Daniel Carhuff

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Daniel Carhuff, in front of a brick wall.

Daniel was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, spending much of that time photographing the reptiles and amphibians in the backcountry borderlands to the south. These biodiverse yet rugged environments helped form the foundation of Daniel's passion for preserving nature, documenting its beauty, and pushing the boundaries of the equipment necessary to do both. He has experienced first-hand the effects of both human influence on the environment, and the environmental influence on humans, driving his desire to design higher-performing products necessary for safe access and observation, but not at the expense of major environmental impact. These experiences led Daniel to pursue a career in product design.

Daniel graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. For his thesis, Daniel combined all his passions into a single project, designing versatile outdoor footwear for Maryland herpetologists centered around the perspective that maximum performance must also minimize ecological impact. He also worked at Creative Machines, Inc. as a designer and at REI Tucson as a footwear and soft goods retail specialist, staying in touch with both his design practice and interest in the outdoor product industry. Daniel looks to elevate the experiences people have in nature by designing high-performing products for harsh environments while ensuring those same products do not harm the environments they are designed for.

Daniel's Portfolio

Vic Edwards

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Vic Edwards, in front of a brick wall.

Vic Edwards grew up in Grass Valley, California, about an hour from Tahoe National Forest. Tahoe helped him find his love for outdoor activities like skiing and mountain biking. Vic played basketball, football, and golf throughout his high school career, building a foundation for his interest in sports products and how they can improve athletic performance.

He attended Boise State for a degree in Engineering with a minor in Materials Science. Vic’s engineering degree brought together other disciplines such as kinesiology and biomechanics. Vic is interested in delving into equipment design for outdoor sports to create products that improve performance, while also utilizing environmentally friendly materials. His goal is to create products that get people to experiment and succeed at new sports endeavors.

Ryan Karow

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Ryan Karow, in front of a brick wall.

Ryan was raised as an avid climber, mountain biker, and skier who has always been interested in the outdoor gear industry. He graduated in 2022 from the University of Colorado Boulder with a BA in Environmental Product Design and minors in Business and Roman Classics. Ryan hopes to aid the outdoor gear industry in transitioning into a more sustainable model - not only for environmental concerns but also to benefit consumers with the best long-lasting products possible. As a designer, Ryan believes in answering the call to protect the environment and ensure that the products we design today will not be a problem for tomorrow. He looks forward to expanding his design skills and providing users with the highest-performance product.

Makena Klatt

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Makena Klatt, in front of a brick wall.

Hailing from Sonora, California, Makena grew up rock climbing, skiing, backpacking, and fly-fishing in the Sierra Nevada mountains. These experiences taught her to harbor a deep respect for nature; it is to be enjoyed but also protected. From a young age, she developed a similar appreciation for the gear that enabled her to exist in the outdoors and found a passion for upcycling and reimagining materials. 

She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Italian. During her undergraduate education, she had the opportunity to do research in Chilean Patagonia, where she saw the extent to which the human impact of climate change is affecting even the most remote regions of the world.  

Building on a love of technical apparel and interest in design, Makena returned to her hometown of Sonora where she worked as a technical design assistant for a UV-protective outdoor wear company. Makena is interested in addressing the sustainability issues that are prevalent across the apparel industry. As a designer, she plans to combine her passion for sustainability with her knowledge of technical apparel and gear to create accessible and innovative clothing that disrupts the industry's norms.  


Benjamen Lemus

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Benjamen Lemus, in front of a brick wall.

Benjamen is from Kansas City, MO where he was active in skateboarding, swimming, tennis, and soccer. He completed his undergraduate studies in apparel product development at the University of Missouri. After graduation, Benjamen worked at a local store where he managed store inventory and e-commerce. He used this opportunity to network with footwear technical reps who further developed his interest in sports footwear and apparel design.

Benjamen’s passion for sports and innovation pushed him to continue his education to specialize and refine his design skills. His mission is to help make sports products more accessible, sustainable, and inclusive without sacrificing performance.

Yuxin Mao

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Yuxin Mao, in front of a brick wall.

Yuxin grew up in Beijing and moved to San Francisco in high school, where he played football and explored skateboarding. The creativity and risk-taking in skate culture left an impression on his design identity. It inspired him to pursue his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Davis, where he studied fashion design. Throughout college, he enjoyed spending his time outside hunting, skating, and mountain biking. True to craft, he designed and sewed clothes for his friends using upcycled materials. For his Senior projects, he developed a wearable emergency shelter and prototyped protective tactical suits designed for rugged environments.

Inspired by the backcountry gear he uses in the field and the diverse aspects of the sports he enjoys, Yuxin is eager to create products that mitigate risks in outdoor environments and enhance human performance. By implementing modern technologies and materials, He strives to create user-centered designs to integrate human experience with the natural world.

Maxwell Prempeh

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Maxwell Prempeh, in front of a brick wall.

Maxwell is a first-year SPD student with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Growing up in Texas, he enjoyed playing football, basketball, soccer, and baseball. Born to Ghanaian immigrants, Maxwell aims to implement his cultural identity and experiences into the materialization and aesthetic of sports products. Using those influences his goal is to design products that inform and express the character and qualities of athletes as individuals as well as a team.

Alyssa Tong

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Alyssa Tong, in front of a brick wall.

Alyssa graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Graphic Communication, and a minor in Packaging. During her undergraduate studies, Alyssa created marketing and design assets for start-ups—including logo design, company branding, packaging, and photography. Alyssa helped launch Sequel Tea, a local pop-up company with her role being the driving force behind marketing and brand image. Her time in San Luis Obispo provided opportunities to explore various forms of visual design including magazine and book design, 3D modeling for packaging, and web design. While living in San Luis Obispo, Alyssa experienced newfound accessibility to various outdoor sports such as hiking, surfing, and climbing, which cultivated an interest and appreciation for the usability and safety aspects within sports product design.

Alyssa hopes to combine her visual design skills with her passion for the outdoors through Sports Product Design. She thrives in team settings where she can help others play to their strengths. It is important for her to be thoughtful when creating design—understanding its purpose, audience, market, and application.

Sara Valeri

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Sara Valeri, in front of a brick wall.

Sara was born in Merida, Venezuela. Growing up, she was highly influenced by a family of sports lovers; this helped her understand the significance that sports play in society. In 2016, She started studying Mechanical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. In her sophomore year, she transferred to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to pursue a BFA degree in Industrial Design and a minor in accessory design. She developed a more profound love for footwear design and Industrial design after participating in several collaborative studio projects, where she implemented creative and inventive solutions to real-world challenges. This is where she saw an opportunity in which her ideas could bring change to the world through design.

She graduated from SCAD in the spring of 2021. She was then selected as a participant in the 2021 Pensole x New Balance masterclass & competition. This opened her eyes to a new frontier and brought meaning to her design process—making her want to pursue the path of sports product design. Sara is eager to continue expanding her design knowledge at the University of Oregon. She wants to continue bringing innovative ideas to the table and developing projects that combine and care for nature, science, and design. And can target the diverse needs of athletes worldwide—this way, revolutionizing the world of sports through design.

Sara's Portfolio

Joe Waits

Photograph of a smiling first-year SPD student, Joe Waits, in front of a brick wall.

Joe Waits graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Montana State University. Growing up playing hockey, skiing, and cycling led him to pursue fast-paced endurance activities such as backcountry ski touring and mountain biking. While studying in Bozeman, he explored the mountains, backcountry, and importance of detail, craftsmanship, and thoughtful making. He hopes to use strong problem solving and analytical thinking skills to design for real world problems and systems. Driven by his passion for the mountains, exploration, design, and making, Joe switched his career path to Sports Product Design with the goal of helping others to connect to compelling experiences in nature.

About the Sports Product Design Program

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