Gillian Pinder has combined her loves of sports and problem solving as a mechanical engineer for Adidas. (Submitted by Gillian Pinder)

Designing high performance running shoes great fit for U of Sask. engineering grad

Gillian Pinder (BE'17) combining love of sports with passion for engineering

By Scott Larson | CBC News

Gillian Pinder loves sports and solving problems, so being a mechanical engineer for Adidas developing new running shoes is a perfect fit for her.

"Our days [at Adidas] are built around sport," says Pinder in an interview with CBC, who graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Saskatchewan and is a former Huskie soccer player.

"I can play soccer at lunch and go to the gym at two and it's amazing."

Pinder was a lead engineer on one of Adidas latest shoes, the Adizero Prime X Strung.

She has also started her own company, BareWear, that has developed indoor footwear made for people who use orthotics.

It has been quite a journey for Pinder, who now splits her time between Adidas headquarters in Portland, Ore., and back at home on the farm in Saskatchewan.

Pinder grew up in Saskatoon playing soccer for Eastside, and later spent time with provincial teams, the national performance centre and the Huskies.

She said being a student athlete taught her about balance.

"A lot of it was about keeping my head up and realizing that I need to focus on engineering as well and I also need to plan for a future beyond Huskies."

Women in engineering

Right away Pinder saw there were few women in her engineering program.

"I also noticed that a lot of clubs and extra-curricular activities were very male dominated, and the small amount of women that were in the [engineering] college weren't participating."

So Pinder created GearUp, which helps female engineering students gain technical skills and build a network of female classmates and professionals. 

Early on in her engineering program, Pinder realized mechanical engineering was a good fit and had the good fortune to meet Sean Maw, a professor who became a mentor for her.

"I was able to work with [Maw] in the sports engineering research field and then BareWare and kind of just pursued it."

Maw said Pinder showed initiative right from the start and made the most of every opportunity that came her way.

"She built on one opportunity after another," Maw said.

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