RIT packaging science students and alumni featured at the Pack Expo 2008 International Conference in Chicago

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RIT was well represented at the Pack Expo 2008 International Conference from the opening keynote address by alumna Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar to a strong student showing in packaging awards. The annual conference took place Nov. 9–13 in Chicago. Nearly 45,000 industry professionals and students from more than 125 countries participated at the event.

Zettlemoyer-Lazar, packaging director of Sam’s Club and co-manager of the Wal-Mart Sustainability Value Network, opened the expo on Nov. 9 with “Keeping Score: How Wal-Mart and Suppliers Continue to Advance Packaging Change, Innovation and Sustainability.” She discussed the organization’s use of their packaging scorecard, a benchmarking tool they developed to monitor efforts to reduce greenhouse gas and improve packaging weight-reduction goals.

Student participants at the expo also focused on sustainability as they designed entries for the annual Paperboard Packaging Alliance Student Design Challenge. Students were asked to create packaging that would have strong retail impact yet minimal environmental impact.

Team Kota made up of RIT packaging science students Pooja Ashokan, Breanna Dolan, Matthew Jenkins, Ragii Kota and Shen Lin, placed third among 22 teams with their packaging design for a commemorative holiday ornament. Judged by a panel of industry experts, Team Kota designed a colorful, reusable and recyclable package for a treetop ornament.

Some of the participating colleges at this year’s competition were RIT, the University of Cincinnati, Clemson University, San Jose State and California Polytechnic State University. The winners share a $3,000 prize for the team members; $5,000 is awarded to the college’s packaging science department.

Associate professor and program chair Thomas Voss was instrumental in taking 25 RIT students to the expo, many for the first time. It was a chance, he says, to expose them to the varied careers within the packaging industry and start networking with industry professionals. Voss was one of several industry professionals featured on the conference’s television network. He was interviewed for an educational segment to discuss packaging science degrees offered at RIT. [Voss Interview: http://my.packexpo.com/SPC-8-10021-96/Packexpo-TV.aspx ]

The expo was also an opportunity for the students to network with some of the most influential packaging professionals from companies such as Kraft Foods and Apple Inc. (that they were also RIT alumni, like Zettlemoyer-Lazar, was appealing). At a networking reception during the expo, packaging science alumni met with current students as well as faculty, College of Applied Science and Technology Dean H. Fred Walker, to reminisce about the program and RIT, says Catherine Bement, associate director of development/alumni relations and reception organizer.