Let's look at this story through the lens of fantasy: You're in art school, studying fine art painting, and Lucian Freud is the instructor. Does this necessarily mean your career as a painter will take a legendary, museum trajectory? There is a possibility, of course, but that sort of expectation can be a stretch. But if you are a Product Design design student, where functional and progressive design ideas are the scope and goals of your studies, we've found a match.

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The PDX Study Away program at the Product Design department at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, is an eight-week design-intensive incorporating athletic brand-sponsored two-week sprints, a Portland State University School of Business class and a biomechanics course. Students get the chance to work on-site with some of the most famed names in apparel, including Nike, adidas and Under Armour. It's the perfect training ground to create a dream professional scenario.

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Kevin A. Beard, an alumnus and professor of Product Design at ArtCenter, who also worked at adidas, Reebok and K-Swiss and is a self-proclaimed “shoe dog,” says the PDX Study Away Program not only gives a bit of real-world experience to students, but also provides multiple angles for a prospective professional. “The students' goal has multiple parts,” Beard told us. “Confirm this is an industry for them, test themselves with industry professionals and make connections, and develop their design decision-making process.”

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In addition to Product Design majors, Beard notes, Transportation Design, Illustration and Interaction Design majors have participated in the program, thrived and found internships with a brand, some immediately following the term. The workload, indeed, is intense. At the end of the program, each student is tasked with briefs to bring back to ArtCenter. “The design briefs have ranged from interpreting linear motion, to creating footwear and apparel, to creating systems of sustainability, to using virtual reality 3D sketching tools,” Beard says. “The 2018 program yielded a student-led presentation to our provost, chairs and faculty of 276 slides, containing 32 projects, lasting 2 hours, interrupted only by 2 vigorous 10-minute Q&A sessions.” Fantasy earned.