Strength in Sustainability: Shane O’Toole ’15 Was Named a 2022 Distinguished Young Alumni Award Winner
By Kamilah Heslop
Even though Shane O’Toole ’15 was born and raised in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, he will always consider the Wilson College of Textiles his home.
“This college not only gave me the skills I needed to succeed in the industry, but it has also given me a place to come back to whenever I am in town — to visit professors and former classmates who I’ll never forget,” O’Toole says.
“After about two months into my program, I knew I wasn’t ever going to leave. Since I was new to North Carolina, this college really became my whole world.”
When he was on campus, O’Toole balanced his polymer and color chemistry studies with his responsibilities as an NC State student-athlete — first as a preferred walk-on for the football team and then as a bullpen catcher on the Wolfpack baseball team.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2015, O’Toole searched for jobs that would allow him to push the technological envelope and chase his passion for sustainability and athletic performance apparel.
He found that in his role as the material development manager for Under Armour, where he developed products that utilized post-consumer recycled materials. Those products were worn and used at the highest levels — by world-class collegiate, professional, international and even Olympic athletes.
“A lot of people view sustainability and recycled or biodegradable products as inferior from a performance aspect,” he says. “But that’s not the case. The two are harmoniously intertwined. It doesn’t have to be just one or the other. I’m working to change that viewpoint in our industry.”
In his next role as the director of raw materials at Tegra Global, O’Toole played a central role in instituting fabric waste recycling programs. He also led the way in helping the company provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I remember receiving a call from my CEO to develop masks for 13,000 employees and possibly for our customers. I asked when he needed them by, and he said ‘yesterday.’”
And, just like that, O’Toole got to work. He drew from his experience working with medical devices at AccuMED Innovative Technologies to create masks with an 86% particulate filtration system to protect those in his work community and beyond.
“It was definitely a lot of sleepless nights, but I take a lot of pride in that.”
Today, he’s the senior manager of product development at Origin Materials, which makes 100 percent bio-based polyester and other carbon-negative polymers.
He has also propelled the Carhartt and Tenere brands, along with his own footwear startup, to success. His startup, MooseDog, focuses on the creation of eco-conscious hybrid 3D-printed, zero-scrap performance shoes, hats and accessories with degrees of biodegradability.
Awarded for his commitment to sustainability and continued connection with the college
On Feb. 9, O’Toole was honored for his achievements within the industry when he was named an esteemed recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Young Alumni Award.
Established in 2021 by the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council (DYALC) in the Wilson College, the Distinguished Young Alumni Award program recognizes graduates under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the textile industry and their communities. The DYALC works to promote the Wilson College of Textiles and the college’s fundraising arm, the North Carolina Textile Foundation, along with fostering continued engagement among young alumni.
Award winners are selected based on their professional achievements, alignment with the college’s core values, service to the industry, community involvement and entrepreneurship.
It’s important to note that the thread that connected O’Toole to the Wilson College of Textiles wasn’t cut at graduation, even with his busy schedule. He currently serves as the college’s young alumni representative in Charlotte and proudly connects young alumni and prospective industry partners to his alma mater.
“I made sure I stayed connected to the college after graduating so I could give back after all that the college had given to me.”
That connection will soon include a future member of the Wilson Wolfpack: O’Toole and his wife are expecting their first child in July.