Ski Boots and related products.

I am returning back to school after completing part of a Bachelors degree. I have been thinking very, very hard intp what major to declare. My ultimate ambition has always been to develop equipment like ski boots, hiking boots, and snow shoes. I am interested in hardgoods and softgoods alike, but am most interested in things that interface with the biomechanics of the body directly. Everybody keeps saying mechanical engineering is the way to go. As I look into mechanical engineering curriculums, they seem most interested in mass production methods. I am most interested in improving the way in which existing technology interfaces with the body, not developing or improving new technology. Should I go into Biomechanics, and is this a viable career path in the outdoor field? Should I become a orthotist/podiatrist? Or would a more pragmatic approach be to a get a BA in mechanical engineering and a master in biomechanical engineering?

Follow what makes you most passionate…be careful how pragmatic you are because years of education are no fun if you don’t identify with your subject of study and you won’t likely reach the highest levels of achievement. Go for mechanical engineering if you think you can enjoy it. Remember that all experiences can contribute to you problem solving skills.

If you go the Biomechanics way, make a career more viable by keeping an open mind towards other areas besides Skiing and Outdoors. Consider that many designers specialize in say automotive design and end up designing footwear for example. There is no reason why you couldn’t find working in a lab that specializes in running more interesting, or biomechanical rehabilitation more rewarding. Leaving school you think you have it all figured out, I graduated in automotive design and later discovered that footwear has a much greater cultural and creative breath.

Be open to new experiences because they all contribute to you problem solving skills.

There are probably very few jobs involving Biomechanics and footwear, especially in sports companies. Usually Biomechanical research takes place in University. But ultimately if you are passionate, determined and insightful enough you can pave your own way to wherever you choose to go. Like an athlete push yourself to be as competitive as you can to excel in your field, because no piece of paper certification will guarantee you a job.

Good Luck.

Thank you for your insight. It has been hard trying to getting any advice from someone in the outdoor product industry. I guess my my question is who really designs things like ski boots. A ski boot is a system of hard and soft materials, of many technologies working together in unison under tremendous forces. Who is dealing with the physics and mechanics based designs of these products? It seems amazing to me that someone without special biomechanical insight would not take part in the development of a ski boot.

my quick advise is just go into the footwear industry and in most companies there are opportunities to learn from the experts within those companies, study under them and learn biomechanics as it relates to that specific industry. make it known that this is an area of interest for you and you can probably get incolved iin some of the testing and studies depending on how the company is structured.
I would go that path first, get a basic foundation of how biomechanics relates to the specific industry from the inside, then decide to go do a masters in biomechanics on the company dollar if you still feel you need it.

In my organization there was plenty opportunity for me to learn as much as i wanted about the biomechanics of fit and comfort, mild performance, etc just by showing an interest and offering to be involved in that side of the process.

I would combine both sets of advice.

First go to the industry. Contact Salomon. Get in touch with their R&D department. Ask them what types of people are working there and what are their activities. Ask them what kind of background they want when they hire.

Pick one of those backgrounds that you like best. Study that. Could be a podiatrist. Could be a bio-mechanical engineer. Could be a plain IDer.