Virginia Tech hosted the national Packaging Jamboree on April 2-4. This year, the annual conference focused on the global trends of emerging packaging technology under the theme “iPackage.” The event welcomed 95 students from six universities, including 40 Virginia Tech students and 50 industry professionals from 20 companies.

The conference, a student-led event with educational and networking opportunities, was the largest Packaging Jamboree in recent years. Industry representatives gave presentations about emerging technology and trends in e-commerce packaging and innovation, and students attended a career fair to facilitate conversations with potential employers, including Merck, Nestle, Newell Brands, and the Packaging Corporation of America.

The career fair was such a success that Virginia Tech’s packaging systems and design program, based in the College of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, plans to host its own packaging career fair in 2020.

“Most of the career fairs at Virginia Tech don’t really have companies who are specifically looking for a packaging student,” said Jessie Arevalo, a senior packaging systems and design major who handled industry outreach for the conference. “At this event, every company invited has positions with packaging engineers, and they have a better understanding of what our role entails.”

The jamboree included breakout sessions where students from different schools worked on teams to develop the best solution to case studies provided by industry members. The groups had about 15 minutes to think of a solution to a sustainability, engineering, design, e-commerce, or traceability case study. They then pitched their idea to the company and were awarded points based on its creativity, feasibility, and accuracy to the company’s actual solution.

Newell Brands and the Packaging Corporation of America were recognized for their involvement in the program and support toward Virginia Tech students. Both companies hire students for full-time and internship positions and assist students with class projects. Don Woodward, general manager for PCA in Roanoke, Virginia, was the inaugural recipient of a new award named in his honor. He was recognized for mentoring packaging students and providing tools and connections to elevate their careers.

Hosted by the Packaging Systems and Design Club at Virginia Tech, the 2019 Packaging Jamboree took about 10 months to plan. “Without the 23 dedicated and passionate student volunteers, this event wouldn’t have happened,” said Assistant Professor Young-Teck Kim. “Our students should all be very proud of themselves about this success.”

Universities with packaging programs rotate hosting the annual Packaging Jamboree. Virginia Tech last hosted the event in 2014.

Written by Denashia Dunnaville, a junior double majoring in multimedia journalism and political science.