B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2002
Footwear Development Director
Jeffrey Rask manages a team that designs the next generation of athletic shoes for kids. As a lifelong athlete, he is thrilled to work for Nike, which sits at the apex of the sporting industry.
Rask is Footwear Development Director for the sneaker behemoth’s Kids category and guides his team in developing shoes that meet the unique needs of growing feet. His group collaborates on colors, materials, and construction, and recommends adjustments to make the shoes light and flexible, yet durable. Then, once the team decides everything, they work with their factory partners to fabricate a prototype. “My team is heavily involved with the back and forth of that design process, and with the actual technical aspects of building the product,” Rask said.
Rask’s last step with a new shoe is to source the final prototypes for upscale manufacturing. Along the way, he also manages team dynamics, schedules work assignments, balances workloads, and develops new talent.
Rask says his degree from Oregon State provided a great foundation. The focus he developed in his chemical engineering courses, coupled with a work ethic he learned from his father, who worked long hours at a paper mill, taught Rask how to maximize his time in environments that often have competing priorities.
After completing a short stint as a senior process engineer for a San Jose-based semiconductor firm, Rask began working at Nike as a manufacturing engineer. He then incrementally took on new responsibilities until he began managing teams, first as a cost engineering director, and finally moving into his current leadership position. “I really appreciate the opportunity to help people learn and grow, develop their skills, and get better at their jobs,” he said. “Making sure my team is at their best allows me to be at my best.”