Sustainable Packaging Designer Trainee Program


What is the program about?


The Sustainable Packaging Designer Trainee (SPDT) program is the most hands-on college level training program offered in the United States. Every year, 3-5 students are selected based on their academic performance, professionalism, and personal skills to be part of the program. The program includes a three-month full-time summer internship, two academic classes, and two years of part-time work experience as a laboratory technician at the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design.



During this time, the students learn:

  • To operate various testing equipment found in most packaging testing labs.
  • To interpret various ASTM, ISTA, and ISO packaging standards.
  • To develop experiments to evaluate the performance of packaging shipped in the physical distribution.
  • To design sustainable packaging solutions for a variety of applications by reducing weight, optimizing shipping, and using earth friendly materials.
  • To implement continuous improvement projects based on the principles of Lean Management.
  • To manage projects effectively.
  • To prepare high quality reports and presentations.

During the term, students work on various industrial projects. These projects are academically challenging and expand students' knowledge in at least one of the fields of packaging. Each semester, our supporting members have the opportunity to submit a project for consideration as the students' projects. Our faculty then selects one or two of the members' projects per semester for the students to work on. At the end of every semester, students will present the results of their work to the supporting companies. Potential projects must meet the program's guidelines, which are listed below.


What is the benefit for supporting companies?


Our program provides three main benefits to our supporting companies:

  • Interaction with students: during this challenging experience, the personal and professional skills of the students are tested. The presentations at the end of the program provide an excellent opportunity for interaction with our best students who are potential employees or summer interns.
  • Learn solutions to existing real life problems: our students develop and present solutions to real life problems throughout the year. The students' solutions give our supporting companies a competitive advantage.
  • Networking opportunity: our supporting companies are composed of packaging producers, suppliers, and final customers. Our bi-annual meetings provide a great opportunity to network with potential suppliers or clients.

Are there any testing fees tied to these projects?



No. There are no testing fees associated with these projects. If extensive materials are needed, it's expected that these required materials will be provided by the company who suggested the project.



What are the requirements for the projects?



The submitted project needs:

  • To be academically challenging.
  • To focus on a specific packaging problem.
  • To have a clearly defined goal.
  • To have a time-frame of less than 4 months.

How can I become a supporting company?



If you are a member of the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design, you automatically become a supporting member of the SPDT program. If you are not currently a member of the Center, then you can become a supporting member for a $500 annual fee and one year of commitment. If you would like more information, please contact Laszlo Horvath at lhorvat@vt.edu or call (540) 231-7673.



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