Students take top placements in annual Paperboard Packaging Design Challenge

Multi-part toolkit for middle school educators highlights both good design and sustainability

L. Fear

Student-designers from RIT graphic design, industrial design, and packaging science took second place for their sustainable package in the recent Paperboard Packaging Challenge.

The RIT student-designers on Team Frears placed second in the 2020 Paperboard Packaging Student Design Challenge for their packaging designs of a toolkit for educators to be distributed by the national program Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees, (TICCIT). Two other teams, Loose Leaves and Treeative, received honorable mentions at the annual event that showcases the best collegiate designs and packaging innovations.

Team Frears—Rachel Goldberg (industrial design), Allison Kunz (graphic design), Luke Hallick (graphic design), Brianna Johnson (graphic design) and Jenna Robinson (packaging science)— designed “Plant to Product,” a multi-section package that would hold multiple seedlings, planting information, and environmental activities to engage third- to fifth-graders served by TICCIT (pronounced “ticket”), an outreach program launched by the Paperboard Packaging Council. The team was among 30 entries representing eight universities: Fashion Institute of Technology, Rutgers, California Polytechnic, Chowan, Clemson, San Jose State, and Ryerson universities.

The competition is part of an RIT graphic design course and has been a collaboration between the College of Art and Design and the College of Engineering Technology for several years. Students from graphic design work with peers from industrial design and packaging science, bringing together their knowledge from each of these areas to develop packaging options that are both exquisite designs and functional products that could be used by businesses today.

History Repeats Itself

Over the past several years, RIT student-designers from the College of Art and Design and the College of Engineering Technology have worked together as part of a class collaboration and entered creative packaging options for the national Paperboard Packaging Alliance Student Design Competition. Teams have consistently done well, taking top placements annually From designs for popular subscription boxes to video gaming consoles and from packages for fitness trackers and hospitality services, RIT’s students have designed products that are both functional and sustainable.

The course models situations students would find in the workplace as part of company product teams, where they’d be required to understand how designers and packaging professionals collaborate to influence a company’s brand and bottom line. Hands-on work throughout the semester included learning skills in project management, packaging structural design, printing prototypes, development of market reports, and how to best incorporate sustainable materials in product development. At the end of the semester, each of the class teams puts together an entry reflecting the process work and includes images and prototype designs for the competition.

RIT has been at the forefront of how design, technology, and sustainability can be successfully integrated. The class is one of several conducted at the university providing cross-college collaborations and real-world experience for career preparation. In the past, teams designed packaging as part of the annual competition for industries as varied as healthcare and hospitality, food and video gaming. All were judged by industry leaders. In the 2020 competition, Ryerson University took first place, RIT second, and the Fashion Institute of Technology placed third overall. Winning teams and the academic programs receive monetary awards from $5,500 to $1,500 for first to third place.

“I am very proud of the dedication of all eight RIT teams who had the extra challenge this year of completing their solutions remotely after starting this competition in person. Every team exceeded my expectations,” said Lorrie Frear, professor of graphic design in RIT’s College of Art and Design. She led the class of 34 students and worked closely with Carlos Diaz-Acosta, associate professor of packaging in RIT’s College of Engineering Technology and consultant Bill Wynkoop. Diaz-Acosta provided assistance for the class when RIT converted to remote learning coordinating with national packaging company ESKO to provide its Artios, computing software package for folded packaging designs.

RIT submitted eight designs from these teams for the 2020 Paperboard Packaging Design Challenge:

  • The Frears: Rachel Goldberg, Allison Kunz, Luke Hallick. Brianna Johnson, Jenna Robinson
  • Treenominal: Connie Lucid, Olivia Sanders, Lauren Perttula, Mikayla Bird
  • Lemon Drops: Bree Cosgrove, Connie Froass, Juan C. Rodrigues, Jarod Lai
  • The Planteers: Dylan Fisher, Deztiny DiMeo, Morsal Sahar, Gabrielle Oppenheim, Tahmir Payne
  • Loose Leaves: Daeya Shealy, Sierra Babcock, Erica Boyd, Anna Schum-Houck
  • Treebalism: Carolyn Tanski, Ian Archibald, Thomas Rothdeutsch, Carlos Lomeli
  • The Tree-m Team: Monica Steelman, Kelly Fellner
  • Treeative: Cristian Maynez, Lena Ohara, Da Chen, Amanda Stopper, Noah Heydt

Recommended News