Packaging education on the menu at WestPack

Continuing packaging education represents different things depending on your experience and your needs. With an eye toward the future, WestPack offers several unique educational opportunities.

As a major tradeshow, WestPack offers the usual center-of-plate events and opportunities, from the numerous exhibitor booths to educational sessions (Learning Labs). And of course there is an assortment of planned and unplanned networking opportunities throughout the halls during, before and after the show.

So far, so familiar.

But wait, there's more, far more: It also brings to the packaging table a unique selection of packaging education options worth highlighting that, according to research, addresses a top issue for manufacturers: finding qualified workers to fill job openings. The long-term sustainable solution is to work with public schools and universities to train the next generation of workers and to build relationships. Here's some of what WestPack is serving up to spark the minds of packaging professionals of today and tomorrow:

Science@OC  (booth 270) is a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum non-profit. Using a grant from the UBM Foundation, Science@OC will bring twenty 8th grade teachers from six Orange County (CA) school districts to learn more about manufacturing, so they can steer students to study math and science. At 8:30am on 2/11 in room 203B, teachers will receive a Manufacturing 101 tutorial, take a guided tour of the show, do self- discovery of booths, and reconvene to share experiences with other teachers. In addition to the teachers, Science@OC's Board (which includes companies like Boeing) is supporting this effort.

Vital Link/Continuing Technical Education (booth 276) represents OC high schools and community colleges for students planning to go directly to work (skilled work, non-degree). Vital Link will have a booth in Hall E, showcasing innovative projects done by high school students. In addition, they will bring high school and community college educators to meet with the K-12 teachers from Science@OC to better align programs between middle and high schools. The Vital Link Board of Directors (approximately 20) will hold their February meeting at the show on Tuesday 2/11 in room 201C, and then attend the event to build closer relationships with attending/exhibiting companies from Orange County.

Northern Orange County Community College District (booth 274) fills several critical roles for students and local manufacturers. First, they provide 2-year education to students that will move on to four-year engineering colleges. Second, they provide non-degree vocation training (e.g. running milling machinery) for students that want to go directly into the workforce. Third, this group and its partner organizations disburse FREE federal and state monies for manufacturing training/retraining.

On 2/11, NOCCD and its partners will have a 30-minute session in the Tech Theater to share what they can offer manufacturers. This group, likewise, wants to build relationships with area manufacturers to provide future workers with the right skills.

Four-Year Colleges graduate engineers who will become the future attendees. They also conduct research and have business incubators for entrepreneurial students and faculty. This year, Cal Poly Pomona Engineering School (graduates approximately 1,000 engineers/year - booth 476), California State University-Long Beach (booth 279), and the University of Southern California (booth 272), will showcase student innovation in Hall E.

FIRST is a national STEM education group, supporting youth interested in science and technology (including scholarships to high school engineering students), that will receive both a UBM Donation of $25,000 and the proceeds from ticket sales/attendee donations to the Golden Mousetrap Awards being held at 5:15 pm on Tuesday 2/11 at the Marriott. Design News opened this relationship and has been highly supported through the creation and execution of the Golden Mousetrap Awards.

For more information, visit WestPack

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