What does a packaging professional do all day? Finding out is the first of many tasks three inquisitive packaging students have discovered as part of their participation in the new Mission: Packaging program sponsored by Shurtape Technologies LLC, a leading producer of pressure-sensitive tapes.
At stake is a prize of $5,000 for each packaging apprentice, along with the bigger rewards of broadening their horizons beyond the classroom, networking with veteran packaging professionals and gaining hands-on experience.
Each month, Eric Lausch, Anna Lorette and Garrett Peterson will be given themed missions designed to help them build upon their educational foundation. According to Shurtape, to complete the mission, the trio will have to explore real-world issues, trends and strategies related to packaging, as well as talk with industry experts—and then blog about what they’ve learned.
Lausch, Lorette and Peterson were chosen from a list of applicants from packaging programs throughout the U.S. Here are a few more details about each participant:
Mission specialist: Eric Lausch
College: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Major: Packaging/Biosytems Engineering
Anticipated graduation: Spring 2018
Mission specialist: Anna Lorette
College: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Major: Packaging Science
Anticipated graduation: Spring 2017
Mission specialist: Garrett Peterson
College: University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, WI
Anticipated graduation: Spring 2018
Laura Pierce, senior media manager at Shurtape Technologies, tells us more about this inspiring and educational program.
How will the money be distributed between the three students?
Pierce: We will be awarding a total of $15,000 by the end of the 2016 program.
Each student will receive $5,000. They will earn $500 per “completed” mission. A “completed” mission includes following any directions provided (such as interviewing someone or conducting research) and then writing up a short blog post to share their learnings and thoughts. We’ve also asked them to provide a photo or other related visual to accompany their written posts.
How will Shurtape ensure they spend the money on packaging education?
Pierce: Students are rewarded with cash that can be used however they’d like. Perhaps it’s to pay for tuition or other fees, or even books and supplies—we know these can all add up pretty quickly. Our hope is that, no matter how they choose to use their money, it helps them as they prepare to enter the workforce.
Is this the first time the company is conducting this Mission?
Pierce: This is the first time we are conducting the Mission: Packaging program. We ran a similar program with HVAC students in 2015—and are entering the second year of that program in 2016 given the success of its first year.
The Mission program is designed to connect with students—see the world through their eyes and help them enhance their educational experience. It’s about taking a step out of the classroom, building a professional network and, in some cases, taking a look at the industry through the eyes of someone else.
How long will the Mission: Packaging program run?
Pierce: We will be providing them with 10 missions over the course of 10 months. The first mission was posted to our site on Feb. 22. Subsequent missions will be posted through the end of the year.
What will the themes be each month and will they all tackle the same theme at the same time or each be given different themes?
Pierce: For their first challenge, we asked the students to investigate “A Day in the Life of a Packaging Pro.” We wanted them to learn more about the packaging field through the eyes of someone already in it. For example, it could have been a college professor who’s helped guide them to success, someone with whom they completed an internship or a pro they’d met through networking events. Our goal was to provide them with a glimpse into what their futures could hold.
Their second challenge is to investigate the “Path of Continuous Improvement.” We hear often that manufacturers are concerning themselves with continuous improvement projects to enhance the efficiency of production and packaging processes—and ultimately improve their bottom line. So we asked the students to learn more about why companies are focusing on things like continuous improvement and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
We provide a monthly theme (same for each student) and some direction related to use of an interview or research, but after that, it’s up to the students in how they tackle the challenge. There’s no right or wrong answer to the challenge, but more of a unique twist in each response given they are in different schools and locations, and each has a different background related to internships and such.
Bottom line—they are learning and having fun!
When will the first blogs be available?
Pierce: The student bios and first mission entries are posted at www.shurtape.com/blog/mission-packaging. The next mission will be posted soon.
How does this Mission program supplement/enhance other hands-on learning, such as internships?
Pierce: We recognize the value of education and need for hands-on training and learning. For the past several years, we’ve participated as a sponsor in the Amazing Packaging Race at Pack Expo, which has allowed us to meet students and faculty from packaging programs nationwide. This was really our first venture into the idea of challenging students with a packaging-themed mission. These students have proven to be a wealth of knowledge—you really can’t beat seeing and hearing that “a-ha” moment when the students have figured it out and learned something new.
From a company perspective, we do hire interns over the summer, and that often includes a student with a packaging or related background to work with our team. It’s yet another way to provide hands-on experience that builds upon the learnings they’ve gained through classroom instruction, networking, participating in industry-related student organizations and more.
You, too, can continue your packaging education by attending conferences at EastPack 2016. Explore 3-days of conference programs on Packaging for Food & Beverage, Packaging Design for Health & Beauty and Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging.