The idea to create an official NDSU tartan started in the fall of 2010. The university was starting a new branding effort and the department wanted to be a part of this campaign. Additionally, the department was looking for a project in which students from all three majors could have an active role, enhance their educational learning opportunities, and raise money for student scholarships and faculty research. A plan was developed and presented to President Dean Bresciani in January 2011, including the purpose, process and anticipated outcomes for students, faculty and NDSU of undertaking the NDSU Tartan Project. President Bresciani enthusiastically approved the plan. From these beginnings, the NDSU Tartan Project was born.
A tartan design competition was held in February 2011. All students majoring or minoring in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Interior Design and Hospitality Management were given opportunity to submit designs and potentially win the contest. Seventy-six students submitted original tartan designs for the competition. The departmental faculty tartan committee selected the top ten best designs. These ten designs were narrowed down to three by a committee made up of President Bresciani, Director of Athletics Gene Taylor, and representatives from several sectors of the university to ensure that faculty, staff, students and alumni were represented.
The three top designs were displayed on the NDSU website for voting. More than 12,500 online votes were cast by NDSU students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Kelly Nelson, a junior at the time majoring in apparel, retail merchandising and design, from Bismarck ND designed the winning tartan pattern. The NDSU Tartan has been approved and registered with the Official Scottish Registry of Tartan in the United Kingdom. It has been adopted as the official NDSU Tartan and is sold exclusively through the NDSU Bookstore.
The tartan project offers numerous educational benefits for students, with opportunity for it to be incorporated into a variety of class projects throughout the school year. The entire product development process can be seen using the tartan. Students in the ADHM 272 – Product Development course complete a project each spring semester using the official NDSU tartan. The students complete market and trend research and create product concepts that are shared with the buying team at the NDSU Bookstore. Many of the student product ideas are created and can be purchased in the NDSU Bookstore throughout the year.
Royalties earned from the sale of tartan products are added to a scholarship fund. The first $1,000 student scholarship was offered in the fall of 2013 and $11,000 has been given to students majoring in Apparel, Merchandising, Interior Design and Hospitality Management since 2013. The tartan project provides a department wide student opportunity to gain real world experience and enable the department to annually offer scholarships to students majoring in one of the three programs in the department. Tartan products can be purchased exclusively from the NDSU Bookstore.