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Fast forward at MSU: A passion for packaging

Fast forward at MSU: A passion for packaging
Marcella Kupraszewicz of Michigan State University

What will the next generation of packaging professionals contribute? In this article we take a look at packaging through the fresh eyes of a packaging student, in this instance those of Marcella Kupraszewicz of Michigan State University.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Kupraszewicz: I am entering my fifth year at Michigan State University. I have been a member of the MSU Varsity Swim Team for the past four years. Now that my eligibility is up, I am excited to solely focus on packaging. Besides school and swimming, I also enjoy the MSU Dairy Store Ice Cream and biking around campus.

What sparked your interest in MSU and packaging?

Kupraszewicz: I chose MSU because of swimming, but what drew me to the university was the large campus and amount of students. I enjoy meeting new people and the idea of being surrounded by fresh faces everyday was exciting.

I started my first semester at MSU as a Mechanical Engineering Major. However, I realized I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing and felt something was missing. I talked to my swim academic advisor, and we came up with a list of things I liked and didn’t like. Packaging entailed everything I liked!

What classes have you taken?

Kupraszewicz: Most of my classes are ones that follow the packaging curriculum guide. Typical classes consist of various types of science classes (such as Physics 1&2, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Food Safety), business cognates (Supply Chain Management, Marketing, Statistics and Economics), and the core packaging classes (Glass & Metal, Paper & Paperboard, Plastics  and more)

What has been the most fascinating packaging-related class?

Kupraszewicz: That would be Package Development Technology. This is a class where we were given new design projects every week and had to develop products on our own, using the different types of programs on the school computers. I enjoyed the challenge and having something start off as merely an idea in your head and finish with a tangible object.

What surprises you the most about packaging?

Kupraszewicz: I have learned that even though the “packaging world” offers employment globally, it is still a tight-knit community. It’s nice to know that people are always there, willing to help.

What can you tell us about the Packaging Mentor program?

Kupraszewicz: In my opinion, that’s probably one of the best programs the School of Packaging has to offer. Our academic advisor, Gayle Roubos, pairs upperclassmen with incoming freshman according to their personalities. My mentee, Emily, is just like me. So, of course, she’s awesome!

I meet monthly with Emily to talk about things going on in her life and answer any questions she may have about school, extracurricular activities and other things. Although she doesn’t know it, she was a reminder of how far I’ve come in the School of Packaging. It’s hard to realize the hard work you’ve accomplished when you’re still working towards the finish. That was a big help to me this year. One thing we did together was to complete monthly “missions,” which provided a fun way for us to hang out. 

What segment of packaging interests you the most?

Kupraszewicz: Being that I am a packaging nerd, all aspects interest me. However, if I had to choose one, it would be food packaging. I like the idea of being able to point to something on the shelf and say “Hey—I made that.”

What would you like to change about the packaging industry if you could?

Kupraszewicz: If I could change one thing about the packaging industry, it wouldn’t be within the industry itself, but the world around us. I wish more people could be aware of what the industry is about. Packaging is such an important aspect of everyday life, but people don’t know what hard work truly goes into each package. It’s almost comical how many people I have ask me, “What’s packaging? Like boxes and stuff?” Well, yes. But it’s that and so much more.

What would be your dream job?

Kupraszewicz: Ideally, I’d like to sit on a beach all day, but I don’t think they pay people to do that. My dream job is to have a job. I know I am fortunate enough to have a major that provides many opportunities. With many of my friends graduating recently, I realized how lucky I am in the packaging field. Eventually, I would like to have my own consulting company, but like most things in life, that comes with time and experience. 

What would you like to accomplish in your packaging career?

Kupraszewicz: I would like to develop a product package that changes the packaging world as we know it. Something so evolutionary, it leaves people wondering, “Why wasn’t this invented sooner?”

Is there any particular technology that you see accelerating over the next few years?

Kupraszewicz: In my Package Development Technology class, we used an application on our phones called Augment. It is a 3D Augmented Reality app that allows you to see 3D models of your designs. By setting up an account, you are able to convert your design into a Quick Response code that can be printed on something as small as a business card. Anyone with the app can scan the QR code and see the product within their present environment.

In what way can social media be used for packaging?

Kupraszewicz: I think social media is one of the most powerful tools of information. Companies could utilize social media as a tool for educating the outside world concerning what packaging is about. Even something as simple as “Check this out!” is better than nothing.

What piece of advice can you share with other packaging students?

Kupraszewicz: My advice to other packaging students is to keep pushing through the tough times. College can be overwhelming while trying to balance school, a job and, in my case, swimming. But if you believe in yourself and stick with it, you will persevere. Oh yeah, and Go Green!

For more on the School of Packaging at Michigan State University, visit http://www.packaging.msu.edu/.

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