Business and Engineering Students Develop Products for Escalade Sports


After spending two weeks in an intensive summer course, six University of Evansville students have designed new products that may go to market as part of local sporting goods company Escalade Sports’ portfolio.

UE students Derrick Dietz, Phoebe Hodina, Clint Hoskins, Monika Kirkiewicz, Shawn Mayo, and Sam Mires are enrolled in Business 380 (Applied Product Development), an interdisciplinary two-week course conducted as a collaboration between the Schroeder Family School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Students split into two competitive teams that worked from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. each weekday — with additional hours outside of class — to develop a superior product and a business plan for Escalade Sports.

This morning, they made their final presentations to company executives, who will select the winning project and award that team $1,000 — along with the possibility of seeing their work become a commercial product.

All of the students signed non-disclosure agreements to protect Escalade Sports and the intellectual property that is the final product of their work. If the company takes either product to market in the future, the UE students will be named as inventors on any patents applied for.

“The University of Evansville shows great leadership within our community by providing this unique course, and we look forward to continuing the partnership in future years,” said Dave Fetherman, president of Escalade Sports. “Our company has benefited from the new product ideas and the increase in our ‘innovation bandwidth,’ and at the same time, we’re pleased to provide UE students with real-world experience that helps prepare them for professional success.”

Rick Deer, a local entrepreneur and graduate of UE’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and its Executive Master of Business Administration program, co-taught the course with John Layer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

“UE and Escalade Sports began this partnership last summer and found it to be a tremendous success — truly a win-win for all parties involved,” said Deer. “While details about last year’s winning project are still under wraps, it is in serious consideration to become part of Escalade Sports’ product lineup in the future. That’s the most exciting part of this course — students not only learn product design and marketing strategies, but have the chance to see their hard work become reality in the form of a viable commercial product.”

“This course provides a great introduction to the intense nature of product development, from working long hours into the night to fielding questions from corporate executives during the final pitch,” Layer added. “Once again this year, our students rose to the challenge, and we’re very proud of the tireless energy, enthusiasm, and professionalism they’ve shown throughout this process.”

“I feel that I’ve learned a great deal about how real design teams develop ideas and put together detailed product concepts in just a few weeks,” said Sam Mires, a mechanical engineering major enrolled in the course. “Being able to work with a company like Escalade Sports has been an incredible experience, and this course is a great asset for the University of Evansville. I’ll definitely use my experiences from this course in my professional career.”

Additional funding for the project was provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana.