On October 2, 2018, when “Driver vs. Driver 2” premieres on the Golf Channel, viewers will see 14 finalists pitch their designs for Wilson’s next golf driver to a panel of expert judges. These designer-entrepreneurs — chosen from an open call in which hundreds of ideas were submitted — include investors, engineers, product designers, and even a competitive bowler and a competitive sailor, ages 22 to 81. One of the youngest, Tim Slama, is an Honors College student at Oregon State University.
From Salem, Oregon, Tim is double majoring in mechanical engineering and business (innovation management). He’s an avid golfer and found out about the show through watching the Golf Channel. During the first season, he was too young to apply, so he was excited about applying for the second season.
“I chose to study engineering and business at Oregon State with the end goal of designing sports equipment, specifically golf clubs. I applied to be on the show because I knew it would be an opportunity to co-create a performance product with a world-class sporting goods company,” Tim says.
The finalists on the show will not only pitch their concepts to experts, they’ll also participate in the process of designing a driver — from concept sketches to functional prototypes. Major golfers from the PGA Tour and others in the sports world will test and critique their designs, all invaluable experience for an aspiring golf club designer.
Tim says several honors faculty have supported his success in the competition thus far. “Applying for and pitching to be on the show is a lot like Shark Tank,” he says. “I leveraged many of the skills that Professor John Turner taught in his honors course Introduction to Entrepreneurship.”
He also drew on lessons from Dr. Bob Passch’s honors course in mechanical engineering product design, specifically in understanding prototypes and the different tools available for evaluating a design in its various stages of development.
His undergraduate research with Dr. Onan Demirel, he says, also gave him the background knowledge necessary to pitch an innovative product. “Our work learning about generative design in Oregon State’s Design Engineering Lab inspired one of the driver’s key technologies,” Tim says.
In fall 2017, Tim co-founded the Oregon State Sports Engineering Club, which brings together other students passionate about the sports equipment industry, and which saw its own success last year in design and competition. The group, whose officer team is composed primary of Honors College students, grew to 45 active members in one year. They built and programmed an interactive illuminated rock-climbing wall that won more than $7,500 in awards in the InventOR Collegiate Challenge. The club helps students gain skills for work in the sports equipment industry through guest speakers, industry tours and hands-on projects.
And this past summer, Tim worked on developing innovative footwear as a design engineering intern for Nike, Inc. “It was a fantastic experience, and many of my classes at Oregon State translated directly into the work I was doing in Beaverton.”
Tim hasn’t settled on an honors thesis topic yet and is still considering his many options. But he says he learned so much from “Driver vs. Driver 2” that he may incorporate those lessons into his thesis project.
This fall, as Tim continues his studies at Oregon State, the seven-episode series will run from October 2 through November 13 on the Golf Channel. One winner will receive $250,000, and their driver design will be sold in golf stores worldwide.