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Sustainable Packaging Design and Innovation (SPDI):


Hands-on learning is deeply embedded into Virginia Tech’s packaging program. To add a professional element into the course offering and to allow significant industry participation in our curriculum, the Sustainable Packaging Design and Innovation program was developed. 

The Sustainable Packaging Design and Innovation program is an optional class in which our undergraduate packaging students get to work on real life packaging problems. The projects done during this class are sponsored by the industry and generally focus on improving the sustainability of the distribution packaging system by:

  • Exchanging fossil fuel based for bio-based packaging materials.
  • Minimizing the amount of materials used in packaging applications.
  • Reducing product damage by improving the protective functions of packages and the stability of unit loads.

This program provides funding for project materials, undergraduate student travel to the clients' sites, and graduate teaching assistants who work with our faculty to guide the undergraduate students through the design process. A liaison from the client company will interact directly with the students in design meetings in order to provide them with the industry's perspective. Throughout the project, companies will have the opportunity to gain insight into potential future employees by working with our students over a 30-week-long period.

Benefits for the Company:

  • Access to faculty expertise and world-class laboratory capabilities.
  • Watch students in action and find potential future hires.
  • Professional benefits and public relations benefits from mentoring student teams at Virginia Tech.

Depending on the project, the results can include:

  • Cost savings.
  • Safety improvements.
  • Sustainability benefits.
  • Reduced product damages.

Undergraduate Research

Benefits for the Students:

  • Work on real-life packaging projects.
  • Interact with potential future employers.
  • Gain hands-on experience with packaging materials and industry testing standards.
  • Work on teams with faculty experts.



Contact us to learn more about this class:

Laszlo Horvath


Dr. Laszlo Horvath

Director and Associate Professor
Faculty Coordinator, SPDI Program | 540-231-7673