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Pallet Design and Performance

Pallet Design and Performance, April 25-27, 2023

This will be a 2.5-day, in-person course and will inform attendees about the advanced principles of pallet design, how to conduct material handling audits, the basics of packaging and pallet design as well as material handling systems. They will learn about the interactions between material handling equipment, packaging, and pallets, as well as how to go about diagnosing and solving material handling problems.

While this course is designed to be delivered in-person, we will also be offering a virtual option for this course, with live participation, over the same 2.5-days. Webcams and virtual meeting softwares will be used to include all online attendees in live assignments and discussions.

Advanced Wood Pallet Design, Short Course

Advanced Wood Pallet Design, Short Course
"Course instructors were passionate and extremely knowledgable. Unit load software has vast capabilities and can be utilized for several different applications. Keep up the good work!" 

-Attendee, 2019



"Everything was over-all great! A truly wonderful learning opportunity as well as a great time!" 

-Attendee, 2019




Who should attend:

  • Wood Pallet Suppliers
  • Pallet Designers
  • Pallet Sales Professionals
  • Pallet Purchasers
  • Packaging Engineers
  • Pallet Specifiers
  • Corrugated Box Designers

Topics covered in this short course:

  • Learn how to design cost efficient wooden pallets
  • Learn the fundamentals of stringer class pallet design and performance, including both new and re-manufactured wood pallets.
  • Learn the fundamentals of block class pallet design and performance
  • Learn how to use the PDS software to design stringer and block class pallets.
  • Learn how to specify fasteners
  • Learn how to design pallets for sheet goods
  • Learn the principles of load bridging and how to use it to reduced pallet cost



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 of Science and Technology
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 are 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): $1,400.00
  • CPULD Member  (In-Person or Virtual): $700.00
  • NWPCA Member  (In-Person or Virtual): $700.00

Time & Location:

This course is being held in-person April 25th-27th, 2023. 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 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, April 25th, 2023: 8:00am-5:00pm
  • Wednesday, April 26th, 2023: 8:00am- 5:00pm
  • Thursday, April 27th, 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 pallet 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.



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





The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design works with the Courtyard by Marriott to make sure there are rooms available at the discounted rate of $123.00 per night for anyone attending this short course. 

As long as you reserve your room thru the link provided, AND reserve it prior to April 17th, 2023, you will receive the discounted group rate.

Click here, before April 17th, to register for a room at the discounted rate of $123.00 per night for short course attendees!

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 let them know upon check-in if you will need this shuttle service.

Please contact John Hale,, or Marriott directly at 540-552-5222, or register online using the direct linkfor your hotel room at the Courtyard by Marriott. 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 April 17th, 2023 to receive the discounted rate!


The Inn at Virginia Tech

The Inn at Virginia Tech has provided us with the discounted rate of $159 per night for our short course attendees! These are not gaurenteed rooms, just a gaurenteed discount if there are rooms left available when you call. So, make your plans as early as possible if you'd like to stay at The Inn! 

If you plan to stay at The Inn, use the link provided, or be sure to let them know you're here for the Pallet Design and Performance short course in order to receive the discounted rate of $159 per night, as long as you stay all three evenings with them.

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: