PACK EXPO 2013 Serves as Giant Classroom


RESTON, VA | PACK EXPO owner and producer PMMI, The Assn. for Packaging and Processing Technologies, invited students to participate in PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2013, held September 23–25 at the Las Vegas Convention Center as a way to provide education and to strengthen the workforce from the group up. 

Graduate students from Clemson University presented a display of eye tracking technology in an exhibit sponsored by Esko. The Clemson students tested packaging concepts from a consumer goods manufacturer, with 2013 marking the first time a “live” test of the software was used.

“Engagement is key to understanding,” says Maria Ferrante, VP, Education & Workforce Development, PMMI. “By being active participants in PACK EXPO events, students have a way to better appreciate how they can use their degrees. Whether you’re an end-user or a supplier, the packaging and processing supply chain holds a wide range of opportunity. We want to show the students aspects they may not have considered.”

The PACK Solutions Challenge, sponsored for the third time by B&R Industrial Automation, provided a longer-term challenge. School teams were tasked with solving a typical packaging and processing line challenge. The students begin their work before going to the show, then meet with exhibitors on-site, and present their solutions to a panel of judges. Students’ proposals—developed using resources found at and meetings with exhibitors on the show floor—addressed a variety of complex specifications for the fictional Lucas Parker company’s mouthwash production.

PMMI began the Amazing Packaging Race four years ago as way to get young people to see more of the show floor and to engage with exhibitors. Ferrante says the program has received raves from exhibitors and students alike. The contest, sponsored in 2013 by ASCO Numatics, sends students on a type of scavenger hunt in which they earn points by completing tasks at participating exhibitors’ booths.

Also at PACK EXPO, five area high schools demonstrated robots they built for the FIRST Robotics competition. FIRST is a national organization that strives to connect students to “real-world engineering,” and show them first-hand where science, technology, engineering, and math can lead them.

“Bringing students to PACK EXPO—and giving them something to accomplish while they’re there—is one of the best ways I know to build our workforce,” says Ferrante. “Students at all levels have told us that their trips to PACK EXPO are eye-openers. They come away excited. They know more about what they can do with their degrees, they have new ideas about what they want to do and they want to learn more. It’s a like giant classroom.”

PACK EXPO 2014 is scheduled for November 2–5 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

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