One of Us: The Person Behind the Professional
Eduardo Molina is from Costa Rica, and received his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Costa Rica Institute of Technology in 2012. In 2017 he received his M.S. in Packaging Science from Virginia Tech. Eduardo is currently preparing to defend his Ph.D. in Packaging Science, while also serving as an instructor in the Sustainable Biomaterials Department and working as the lab manager of the Corrugated Packaging Materials Lab in the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design.
Eduardo worked for years in the industry and then became interested in packaging through the process of looking for new ways to optimize the supply chain. He told us that he “was working in the supply chain field, and wanted to find alternative ways to make it more efficient. That search led me to learn about the packaging science field and ultimately towards the program at Virginia Tech. Being able to focus my efforts in research that minimizes the use of resources in logistics is what motivates me. There are significant opportunities in this area of research, which is not widely explored by industry and academia.”
Eduardo considers his favorite aspect of teaching to be the opportunity of working with students from diverse backgrounds because of everything that he can learn from them. In particular, Eduardo enjoys teaching his Packaging Distribution Systems classes because he gets to show the students how packaging interacts with the world, the different systems it needs to adjust to, and how it is different throughout the world.
In normal circumstances (non-coronavirus life…), during the semester, Eduardo teaches three days a week. But, a lot of his time is involved in teaching, outside of actual lecturing, such as assisting students and grading assignments. He says it’s a balancing act to schedule his time between teaching responsibilities and his own research. Eduardo said “I try to schedule some time every week to work on specific research projects. Outside of that, also I work with five students in the Corrugated Packaging Testing Lab, where we conduct research and quality evaluation of corrugated board.”
For his PhD, Eduardo is working on the development of a finite element model to study how a unit load of boxes behaves when placed on a warehouse rack. He explained that “the idea is to study how each of the factors that define a unit load, such as the sizes of the boxes, affects the bending of the pallet. With this information, we will be able to improve pallet design, taking into consideration the product being carried and therefore reducing material consumption.”
In the future, Eduardo would like to research ways to increase the application of biomaterials into packaging solutions. He would like to answer questions such as “how can we streamline the process from material development to full adoption by industry and consumer? How can we develop new testing methods for these completely novel materials?” Eduardo feels answering these types of research questions could help greatly in the transition to a sustainable economy.
Eduardo feels that if he wasn’t working in academia, he would still be working in a related field or probably working in the packaging or supply chain industries. But, he is glad to work at Virginia Tech and really enjoys the outdoor scenery near campus. He feels that one of the great advantages of this area is the ability to go out hiking or camping without having to drive far away as he finds our mountains beautiful. Eduardo enjoys sports, such as soccer, and any outdoor activity, such as camping. One of his favorite pastimes is simply traveling the countryside with his wonderful wife Diana.
Quote from a Colleague:
Eduardo is an asset to the department. He has a natural continuous improvement mentality which is well portrayed by the organization and structure of the IKEA certified lab which is the only such lab in the entire Americas. - Laszlo Horvath, Associate Professor, Sustainable Biomaterials Department