Pack Expo has become a vital part of our educational curriculum. From a small event in Cleveland in 1956 to what it is today, the show has grown to such an extent that it is now two shows, one year in Chicago and the next in Las Vegas.
PMMI has created an event that is a part of every packaging professional’s yearly plan for technical, educational, and social reasons. Attendees are able to view equipment that is set-up and running on the show floor and then talk to the designers and sales people in one location. It’s an extremely good way to obtain quick, informative, and most of all comparative information on all types of equipment involved in the packaging process.
Part of this dynamic event are university faculty and students. This year there will be approximately 20 universities bringing students to the show. Some schools are well established four-year institutions offering a Bachelor of Science in Packaging like Michigan State, Clemson, U.W.-Stout, and San Jose State. Others are junior colleges offering Associate degrees in areas such as manufacturing and machinery design. PMMI provides a venue for all of our students to not only attend the show but to engage with professionals in several organized activities intended to expose the students to machinery and the industrial planning process. The universities are given a booth in an Educational Pavilion on the show floor to promote their school and act as a fixed location for the students. PMMI provides substantial financial support for these universities to allow many students to attend. The support is targeted for the program rather than individual students so every student in the university program benefits.
PMMI has supported this grass roots activity for decades and has helped create a strong U.S. packaging community and a viable packaging educational system. The educational benefit to students is unsurpassed because watching a machine manipulate a package and being able to speak with machine designers about the design components is something that is key to real learning. Package design must include a component of machinability in order to be economical. Exposure to state-of-the-art packaging machinery at Pack Expo is paramount to students understanding the machine/package interface.
The universities benefit from PMMI’s commitment to education because it is difficult to expose students to the manufacturing portion of a packaging operation. Purchasing machinery for educational laboratories requires substantial capital, and universities cannot afford this investment at a time when budgets are tight. Video presentations of machines running are good facsimiles but do not allow for the touching and physical connection necessary to create a real understanding of how a package is handled by a machine. Field trips are another way we try to expose students, but there are limitations when you visit a working plant with a student group.
PMMI’s support is a key component in our ability to educate our students. We in the universities where packaging is taught are grateful for this strong and lasting relationship.
Fritz Yambrach is director of packaging at San Jose State University and can be reached at email@example.com.