Virginia Tech® home

Unit Load Design and Performance

Unit Load Design and Performance, November 5th-7th, 2024

This course will inform attendees about the effects of unit load design on materials handling costs, and the fundamentals of unit load design using the PDS software.

Unit Load Design and Performance, Short Course

Unit Load Design and Performance, Short Course


Who should attend:

  • Packaging suppliers
  • Packaging and pallet designers
  • Pallet and packaging sales professional
  • Procurement professionals
  • Packaging engineers
  • Unit load designers

Topics covered in this short course:

  • Learn the fundamentals unit load design and performance
  • Learn to specify industrial packaging materials and conduct supply chain audits
  • Learn how the stiffness of pallets affect the strength of corrugated boxes
  • Use the state-of-the-art package design modules in PDS to determine the strength of plastic pails and corrugated boxes supported on wooden pallet
  • Learn to design long pallets for flexible products such as shingles using the new sheet-goods model in PDS
  • Learn about load bridging and how it can reduce your pallet spend

Prerequisites for this short course:

  • Attendees must already be familiar with the Pallet Design System (PDS) software.
  • Preferably, attendees should have already taken the short course titled "Wood Pallet Design and Performance."



Dr. Laszlo Horvath

Associate Professor, Virginia Tech
Director, Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design

In 2010, Dr. Horvath received his Ph.D. in Forest Biomaterials from NC State. He is one of the few packaging professionals who have received the "ISTA CPLP – Professional Level" certification. He is the chair of the ASTM D1185 working group, a U.S. delegate of TC 51, and a voting member of ANSI MH1 and MH 10 committees.

Brad Gething


Dr. Brad Gething

Vice President
National Wood Pallet and Container Association

Brad Gething became a member of the NWPCA staff in July 2013, taking on the role of Technical and PDS Manager. Brads role includes participation in various standards bodies, promotion of research and development, and support on other technical issues related to the wood packaging industry. He also serves as a point of contact for PDS design support.

Kristen DeLack

Kristen DeLack

Kristen DeLack

Professional Engineer
National Wood Pallet and Container Association

Kristen DeLack is a 25-year veteran Structural Engineer who joined NWPCA in 2016.  She is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and Virginia.  Kristen graduated Summa Cum Laude from VA Tech with two Bachelor’s and one Master’s degrees, concentrating in multidisciplinary and structural engineering. Prior to joining NWPCA, Kristen worked in the offshore oil and gas industry as a structural engineer and engineering project manager.  During this time, she developed design and analysis software tools that helped engineers around the world efficiently design and build safe subsea structures.  She is widely recognized as an expert in finite element analysis, which serves as the backbone for calculations performed by PDS. In her spare time, Kristen is an avid woodworker and historic preservation enthusiast.  


There are three types of tickets for this short course, detailed below. Tickets cost the same for in-person or virtual attendance of this short course. All attendees will participate in three days of lectures, laboratory tours, and coursework. They will be served breakfast (all three mornings) and given lunch breaks and multiple daily snack breaks. All participants will receive a certificate of completion within two weeks of successfully finishing the course:

  • Attendee (In-Person or Virtual): $1,456.00
  • CPULD Member  (In-Person or Virtual): $728.00
  • NWPCA Member  (In-Person or Virtual): $728.00


This course is being held in person in 2024. It will consist of 2.5 days of lectures, assignments, and laboratory tours. All of these activities will be at the Brooks Forest Products Center, just off the Virginia Tech campus near the Corporate Research Center, in Blacksburg, VA.

Although this course is designed to be experienced in person, we understand that many are still under travel restrictions, so we are also offering a virtual option. The cost of attending virtually is the same as in-person, and live participation in assignments and discussions thru webcams and virtual meeting softwares will be expected over the full short course. You will be asked during registration whether you plan to attend in person or virtually by Zoom.

Either way you choose to join us, this course is being held:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 5th, 2023: 8:00am-5:00pm
  • Wednesday, Nov. 6th, 2023: 8:00am- 5:00pm
  • Thursday, Nov. 7th, 2023: 8:00am-12:00pm

Brooks Forest Products Center
Virginia Tech, MC 0503
1650 Research Center Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Remote Attendance:

Although this course is designed for in-person delivery, we have decided to also offer the opportunity for a completely online attendance.

Remote attendees will have access to the unit load design software. They will watch the live presentations and have the chance to communicate and ask questions of the instructors during the class sessions. Due to technical limitations, the laboratory visit cannot be offered to the remote attendees. You will be asked during registration whether you plan to attend in-person or virtually by Zoom.



The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design works with the Courtyard by Marriott to make sure there are rooms available at a discounted rate for anyone attending this short course. 

We will reserve a room block for this short course. As long as you reserve your room thru the link provided, you will receive the discounted group rate.

Check back regularly for the link to reserve your discounted room at the Courtyard by Marriot!

The Courtyard by Marriott is located less than two miles from the Brooks Center building, where our short courses are held, and it offers many amenities including an indoor pool, exercise room, business area with free WIFI, and a delicious cafe on the premises. They also offer a shuttle service to and from the hotel that short course attendees have found helpful in the past.

Please contact John Hale,, or Marriot directly at 540-552-5222, or register online using the direct linkfor your hotel room at the Courtyard by Marriot. If you call, be sure to mention the short course you're in Blacksburg to attend in order to receive the discounted rate on your hotel room! Remember, you must reserve your room before Oct. 24th, 2022 to receive the discounted rate!


Hilton Garden Inn Blacksburg



The closest airport is the Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA), which is approximately 35 miles from Blacksburg, VA.

There are multiple car rental agencies as well as cab services located at the airport to transport visitors to Blackburg, VA.


The other nearby airports used by short course attendees are:




Course Content Information:
Laszlo Horvath, Director, Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design
Phone: (540) 231-7673

General CPULD Information:
Angie Riegel, Secretary
Phone: (540) 231-7107

Registration Questions:
Erich Sawyer, Virginia Tech Outreach Program Development
CPE Enrollment Coordinator, Virginia Tech Outreach Program Development

Or Registration Questions via phone: (540) 231-4084