In his red BMX outfit, helmet and matching Vans shoes, Ben Fong rode into the crowded classroom on his bike and popped a wheelie in front of the three visiting Nike executives.
Fong, a senior at the Laguna College of Art & Design, on Thursday morning was acting the role of BMX biker Jimmie Johnson. He was part of a team of four graphic design LCAD students pitching the "Nike Track It" phone app concept to the executives who had flown in from Nike's corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
Simply explained, the concept presented by the team of Fong, Matt Dawson, Charlene Chand and Chay Land was a data-tracking device built into the bike, which transmits data to a mobile phone to show how a BMX biker performs on a particular circuit.
The four students were one of five teams in professor Catharin Eure's class pitching digital design concepts themed around the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Nike executives each wore horn-rimmed glasses and shirts untucked over casual trousers. After the presentation by Fong's team — whose members had pulled an all-nighter to prepare for the class — the executives ribbed him about his decision to put on a pair of Vans instead of Nikes for such an important occasion.
"That stuff was great, but that's half the battle ... how do I convey this idea in the clearest, most engaging way?" said Byron Merrit, Nike's creative director of Global Brand Innovation, alluding to Fong's roleplaying turn.
He and the two other Nike executives were at LCAD to conduct a final assessment of the five teams' semester-long projects, and offer the students their input and criticism about their design concepts.
Throughout the spring term, the Nike men co-instructed Eure's students via a Skype video link. At mid-term her class traveled to Oregon to visit Nike's headquarters.
LCAD is one of four colleges in the United States and Britain taking part in an educational program piloted by Nike.
"We're very interested in helping out future generations of designers," said Howard Lichter, Nike's global director of Creative Outreach and Development. "It's also that you're working with young talent, giving them opportunities, giving them insights and helping them have the opportunity to work with a company like Nike."
At the end of the course, one of the 20 students in Eure's class will be rewarded with a paid summer internship at Nike's headquarters.