The student teams come from seven packaging programs: Cal Poly State University; Purdue University at Calumet; Rutgers University; San Jose State University; University of Cincinnati; University of Florida – Gainesville and University of Wisconsin–Stout.
“This is terrific opportunity for students to come up with a solution to a typical challenge engineers and technicians at consumer packaged goods companies face,” says Maria Ferrante, vice president of education and workforce development at PMMI. “The contest also supports our education and workforce goals for a deeper, more qualified pool of employees.”
The student teams’ challenge comes from the fictional Jackson Snack Foods Company, described as a large regional producer of pretzels, mixed nuts and potato chips. Their proposals – developed from information gathered from sources expected to include packexpo.com and the show floor – must address a variety of complex specifications, including:
- Bulk distribution
- Handling multiple bag sizes and chip flavors
- Incorporating a nitrogen flushing system to extend shelf life and preserve freshness, and
- Complying with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed regulations
“The Packaging Solutions Competition is about investing in the future of packaging innovation. It’s an important and effective vehicle to give students ‘on-the-job’ experience, including the experience of interacting with the leading machinery manufacturers exhibiting at Pack Expo,” says John Kowal, market development manager, B&R Industrial Automation.
He adds, “The students benefit by experiencing a real-world packaging line project, and our industry benefits from interacting with the students who will be tomorrow’s industry leaders.”
PMMI's Packaging Education & Training Foundation will provide scholarships to be shared among the members of each winning team - first place, $4,000; second place, $2,000; third place, $1,000.
Pack Expo International 2012 marks the fourth edition of the Student Packaging Solutions Contest. Previous first-place teams were University of Florida – Gainesville (2011), Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (2010) and Purdue University at Calumet (2009).