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Module 2 - Introduction to the School of Packaging

Objectives of this Module

To provide necessary information for students who are considering

changing their major to Packaging.
To gain an understanding of the background, size and complexity of the
School of Packaging at Michigan State University.
To learn about other packaging programs located in the US and in other
To locate the school of Packaging web page.

Proposals for development of a packaging education program were put
forward by industry as early as 1947, and the School of Packaging was actually
started in a very modest manner in 1952. Various other proposals and
suggestions, from on-campus and industry, followed. A graduate student in the
Forest Products Department, James Goff, was asked to develop the first course.
An advertisement for the course was printed in the campus newspaper and in
Fall Quarter of 1953, there were 5 students enrolled. In summary, the packaging
program began with one part-time graduate assistant instructor and 5 students.
Over the next few years, enrollment grew. Dr. Goff obtained a faculty
position and handled all aspects of the packaging program, including student
recruitment, teaching, public relations, curriculum development, placement, and
the development of a research program. The program was allocated space in an
old log cabin and later in a barracks built during WWII. In 1976, a new building
was constructed to house the program. Unlike most university buildings, which
were financed by the state, the packaging building was financed by companies in
the packaging business. The faculty grew and graduate programs were added.
In 1987, a large addition was built onto the building.
Today, the situation is much different than it was at the beginning. The
School of Packaging at Michigan State University is now the leading academic
packaging program in the world. There are about 550 undergraduate students
and approximately 100 graduate students, including about 20 PhD candidates.
MSU produces more than half of all the packaging graduates in the US.
Students come from many countries. Currently, there are graduate students from
Japan, Korea, Thailand, China, Brazil, Mexico, and other countries. There are
also international undergraduate students.
The packaging building has more than 48,000 square feet of offices and
laboratories with much of the latest scientific equipment. There is also a

conference center which is used for lifelong education (adult education). The
following section shows different views of the building.

Exterior of the School of

Packaging building

The Reading Room in the School of Packaging

(This is scheduled to be remodeled)

Film blowing in the Plastics

Processing Laboratory

CAD/CAM equipment for

making samples of boxes and
cartons for teaching and

The Food Packaging Lab has

mass Spectrometers, Gas
Chromatographs, and even
an Electronic Nose

In the Medical Packaging Lab,

graduate students do research
on Child Resistant packaging,
Tamper Evident packaging,
Package label legibility, and
other ergonomic topics

There are a variety of packaging

machines in the Machinery Lab

Undergraduate packaging students take a set of packaging and nonpackaging courses including Physics, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Business,
etc. The core curriculum, courses that each student must complete and pass,
includes PKG 101 (this course) and courses on packaging materials, machinery,
distribution and protective packaging, packaging computer applications and
package design. The complete curriculum, including the business cognate, is
discussed on the School of Packaging web page.
Enrolling in Packaging
Each year, a few students come to MSU as freshmen and immediately
select packaging as a major. However, the vast majority of packaging students
find out about the program after arriving on campus. Many of them take PKG 101
to get additional information about packaging as a field of study. If you are

considering a transfer to Packaging, you should discuss your interest with a

faculty member or contact the Packaging academic advisor.
Eventually, if you do decide to switch to packaging, you will have to work
with the advisor, Jane crowner. She can tell you about the entrance
requirements, admission to the upper division, dual majors, and similar topics.
The School of Packaging employs professional advisors instead of having
advising done by the faculty. In this way, students get more timely, consistent,
and accurate information. You can find information needed to contact the advisor
on the School of Packaging web page.
Other undergraduate programs at the School of Packaging
The school of Packaging operates several other programs for
undergraduate students, as described below.
An internship gives a student the opportunity to experience the world of
professional work. A packaging internship is usually one or two semesters in
length. Companies post internship openings on a special web page for review by
students. Students prepare and post their resumes and sign up for interviews.
The representatives of the companies then select students for each position.
A few students do a second internship. Besides being a valuable
educational experience, an internship gives a student a chance to evaluate the
advantages and disadvantages of employment after graduation by a particular
company or in a particular industry. Similarly, the company has a chance to
evaluate the student as a potential full-time employee. In addition, and at times
most importantly, packaging students generally are well paid for their work while
on internships and can receive academic credits toward graduation.
For more information about Internships, contact Mr. Ron Iwaszkiewicz, the
Packaging Placement Coordinator.
Study abroad:
The School of Packaging operates four summer study abroad programs. A
program in the United Kingdom is held for approximately one month each
summer. Programs in Sweden, Japan and Spain operate for approximately two
weeks. One to three of these programs are conducted each summer. In the
Summer of 2007, there were programs in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and
Spain. In 2008, programs will be held in the UK and Japan.
In addition, there are opportunities for packaging students to gain
international experience by spending a semester or more in attendance at a
foreign university. In recent years, students have attended universities in Ireland,
Germany and Switzerland this way.

Student organizations:
Packaging students can belong to three packaging student organizations.
The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), the primary student
organization, is open to all students. The packaging honorary society, restricted
to students with a superior academic record, is Pi Kappa Gamma (PKG). The
third society is Women in Packaging. These groups sponsor plant visits and
social activities, arrange for industry speakers, and conduct other activities.
Faculty and adjunct faculty
The School of packaging currently has 17 full time faculty and staff
members plus several part time individuals, visiting scholars, etc. The faculty of
the School of Packaging is listed on the school of Packaging web page. The
School was recently informed that several new positions have been approved by
the university. These positions will be filled as soon as possible. It is anticipated
that the new faculty will strengthen the research program as well as contributing
to the teaching and outreach activities of the School.
The newest faculty member is Dr. Maria Rubino. Dr. Rubino received an
MS degree from MSU and her PhD from the University of Manitoba. She has
developed a new laboratory and is conducting several projects on food
packaging. She is cooperating with faculty from several other departments.
Before returning to MSU, Dr. Rubino was employed for several years in the
packaging program at RIT (Rochester Institute of technology).
Dr. Amar Mohanty another relatively recent hire, was born and educated in
India. He was employed for several years in India until he was awarded a
prestigious scholarship to support additional research and education in Germany.
He came to the Composite Materials Center at MSU and joined the Packaging
faculty in 2003. He is an expert in many facets of polymer processing and
manufacturing including Nano-technology. It was recently announced that Dr.
Mohanty is leaving the School of Packaging and MSU. He will move to the
University of Guelph, in Ontario< where he will administer a national research
program on bio-based materials.

Required link: Go to the School of Packaging web page at pkg.msu.edu

and follow the menus to find information about individual faculty members. This
is a good way to get information about a potential faculty advisor for a student
who is considering becoming a packaging graduate student. (Note: The School
of Packaging web page has recently been revised, so be prepared to explore if it
has changed.)
Other packaging education programs
Other undergraduate degree granting packaging programs in the US are

listed below. RIT is the second largest program. Some of the others are quite

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester NY

Clemson University, Clemson, SC
University of Wisconsin - Stout, Menominee, WI
University of Missouri - Rolla, Rolla, MO
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Indiana State University, Terra Haute, IN
California Polytechnic Institute, San Louis Obispo, CA
San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

There are also programs in other countries. For example, the programs at
Rhiems, France, Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and Lund, Sweden are quite
strong. There are groups working to start or strengthen programs in other
places, such as the UK, Korea, Mexico, Thailand, and Spain. However, the
biggest foreign player is China. Recently, a report was received indicating that
there are 49 university based packaging education programs in China and a few,
at least, have several hundred students. There is only limited information
available about the number of faculty, faculty backgrounds, equipment, and other
resources. It is not surprising that China should have an interest in strengthening
the available packaging skill and technology as a means to support their
manufacturing and export programs.
Jobs and salaries
There are usually numerous jobs available in the packaging industry.
Recent graduates with a BS in Packaging from Michigan State University started
at an average salary around $45,000 per year per year in 2007. Of course,
some graduates get more and some get less. For example, several recent
graduates took positions in the corrugated board industry even though other
positions were available with higher starting salaries. Some of these individuals
wanted to work as designers and some wanted to work for small companies.
Typically, graduates who take this type of position expect to achieve rapid
promotion and salary increases.
Many packaging graduates are hired before graduation and most have a
job within 60 days of graduation.
Like any other major, the job situation in packaging is better in some years
than others. For information about the current job situation, contact Ron
Iwaszkiewicz at the School of Packaging. His phone number, e-mail address, etc.
are available on the School of Packaging web page.
School of Packaging research program
The school of Packaging has a broad and active research program. Most

of the research is supported by industry contracts, but there is some government

funding as well. Two research centers have been organized:

The Center for Food and Pharmaceutical Packaging Research

The Consortium for Distribution Packaging.

In addition, there is an active program of package and pallet testing and

other industry involvement. Most of the laboratory work is done by graduate
research assistants working under the direction of a faculty member.
The most active areas of packaging research include: food packaging,
medical packaging, distribution and protective packaging, and the effect of
packaging on the environment, but research is also being done on packaging
machinery, radio frequency identification, packaging line simulation, and other
School of Packaging graduate programs
There are approximately 100 graduate students taking one of four
graduate programs at the School of Packaging. Programs include:

MS (Plan A) with research and a thesis.

MS (Plan B) with extra course work and a report (no research or thesis).
MS (Plan B) done on web based courses.
PhD with research and thesis.

Students come from many countries, including Japan, Thailand, Korea,

Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, China, and others. Admission requirements and other
information about the graduate programs can be found on the School of
Packaging web page www.pkg.msu.edu.
This concludes the presentation about the School of Packaging. For more
information, see the School of Packaging web page or contact the course

The Shock and Vibration Laboratory is typical of various labs in the School of