On February 25, 2022, Rutgers’ Packaging Engineering Program hosted a virtual Packaging Jamboree, or Pack Jam, designed to inspire attendees to network, collaborate on, and consider the big topics in packaging today. This year’s theme was “The Packaging Industry and E-Commerce During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
Pack Jam, an annual, national student-run event connects students with other packaging institutions and professionals. While Pack Jam was postponed in 2020 and 2021, Rutgers worked with the packaging community to hold a virtual event this year, rather than postpone it for a third year. Students and faculty joined the event from Clemson University, Michigan State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Ryerson University, Virginia Tech, University of Wisconsin - Stout, in addition to Rutgers University.
“Student attendees had the opportunity to engage with packaging peers from other institutions and learn about packaging e-commerce trends and sustainability, Says Hao Lin, the director of the School of Engineering Packaging Program. “This is the best opportunity to bring us back together as a community after a long pause due to the pandemic.”
Another Pack Jam benefit, according to packaging program junior Spencer Blakeslee, was the opportunity to meet and connect with packaging students from other schools.
A Jam-Packed Schedule
Blakeslee and fellow School of Engineering packaging student Mariela Garcia moderated the full event which kicked off with an opening keynote address by James Reagan, senior director, packaging design & development at Pfizer on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Additional keynote speakers included L’Oréal senior vice president of human resources Angela Bennett, who gave students tips on applying for jobs during a pandemic, and Mondelēz International's director of packaging Christine Grilli, who discussed packaging considerations and e-commerce.
Faculty and industry professionals led breakout sessions on trends in the packaging industry. Sessions leaders included SOE packaging program senior coordinator Magy Georges and SoE faculty Marty Golden, Xi Gu, and Patricia Santos and Michigan State University packaging professor Euihark Lee. Industry professionals Diane Agyei from L’Oréal; Adrienne Fletcher from Merck; Hanna Holmi from 3M; Laura Kershaw from Hungryroot; Jay Park from Ryerson; Rolando Vega from Thermofisher Scientific; and Michael Pinchiaroli from Church & Dwight also led breakout sessions.
Developing a Packaging Solution
Johnson & Johnson sponsored Pack Jam’s competition, seeking innovative ideas for potential fully recyclable, tamper-resistant two- to three- liter refill containers with child-resistant closures for Listerine’s small bottles. Students were randomly assigned teams prior to the event and had one week to develop solutions that they presented at Pack Jam in a session led by Ukachi Anonyuo, Estée Lauder vice president, global packaging innovation strategy and portfolio management.
The participating students were able to connect with one another over a short period of time to develop impressive solutions to the J&J challenge. Congratulations to the competition winners:
First Place: Brandon Coleman (MSU), Alvaro Garcia (RU), Nicole Krause (CU), Zachary Weston (VT)
Second Place: Emily Anderson (CU), Ellen Chen (RU), Paula Ha (MSU), Rohan Sarathy (VT), Breanna Schuler (Ryerson)
Third Place: Group 3: Ryan Cheung (RU), Ashley Kirk (CU)