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, three to five students are selected based on their academic performance and professional and personal skills to be part of the program. The program includes three months 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 one of the fields of packaging. Each semester, our supporting members have the opportunity to submit one project to be considered as the student project. The faculty selects one or two of these 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?


The program provides three benefits to the supporting companies:

  • Interaction with the 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 the best students who could be potential employees or summer interns.
  • Learn solutions to existing real life problems: Our students develop and present solutions to existing 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 meeting provides a great opportunity to network with potential suppliers or clients.

Is there any testing fee tied to the project?

No. There is no testing fee associated with the projects. If extensive material is needed, the required materials need to 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 timeframe of less than 4 months

How can I be 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 a member of the Center, then you can be a supporting member for a $500 annual fee with one year of commitment. If you would like more information, please contact Laszlo Horvath at laszlo_horvath@vt.edu or call (540) 231-7673.



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