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Packaging Systems and Design

Learn about packaging systems and design

To many people, packaging is invisible, but to students in the Packaging Systems & Design major, packaging means big opportunities and exciting careers.

Dr. Laszlo Horvath and student.

Dr. Laszlo Horvath and student.

Areas of Study

The world of packaging is diverse and multifaceted. Packaging comes in many types and uses many materials. Some packaging companies make these materials, some convert materials into packaging, some fill packaging with products, and some provide consulting or logistics services. Students in the Packaging Systems and Design degree acquire  multi- and interdisciplinary knowledge to be successful in this exciting career.

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    Packaging Science and Materials
    Packaging Science and Materials

    Packaging science focuses on development and selection of packaging materials that can increase the shelf-life and safety of food and medical products, and create packaging solutions that reduce the environmental footprint of plastic packaging using novel materials such as bio-based plastics.

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    Packaging Design and Business
    Packaging Design and Business

    The packaging design area focuses on understanding how customers make their purchasing decisions, how colors, graphical elements and text affect their perception of the packages in order to create packages that effectively attract the customers and sell the product.

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    Packaging Engineering and Technology
    Packaging Engineering and Technology

    The packaging engineering area focuses on designing packages that can protect the goods throughout their travel across the global supply chain. This area covers the different distribution channels, design for shock, vibration, compression, and how to create safe and stable unit loads.

Our Program

Dr. Laszlo Horvath teaching class.

Dr. Laszlo Horvath teaching class.

Small Class Sizes = Personal Connection

Our small class sizes provide an opportunity to our students to build more personal connections with our faculty. In addition, our unique mentoring program assigns a faculty member to every packaging student to provide industry connections and career guidance throughout their time at Virginia Tech.

Student talking to employer

Student talking to employer

Industrial Connections

Our close collaboration with industry allows our students to find internships, Co-ops, and employment after graduation. Our extensive network includes major packaging companies such as PCA, International Paper, Smurfit Kappa, Newell, and CHEP as well as packaging users such as Amazon, L'Oreal, Coca-Cola, and Tesla among many others.

Students getting hands on experience

Students getting hands on experience

Hands-On Experience

The best way to translate the knowledge obtained in the class to real life is to use them to solve real-life packaging problems. Thus, all of our packaging students have a chance to be involved in hands-on packaging projects even during Freshman year including working in our packaging research center, undergraduate research in our chemistry labs, internal summer internships, and industry sponsored senior design projects.

  Our Alumni

Shifeng Chen

Shifeng Chen
Shifeng Chen

Shifeng Chen

( Senior Structural Designer, Pratt Industries )

About 9 years ago, I was just a freshman walking around campus when I happened to come across a little standalone sign that said Packaging System and Design major. Now, I am one of the top packaging engineers in the field, and I can confidently say that choosing this program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was amazed by how the program provided real-world, hands-on opportunities. This program offers a comprehensive package integrating elements of design, laboratory, operation, and business. Every professor was committed to connecting their students and alumni to jobs and professional networks. This program does not believe in a generic carbon-copy style of learning, but instead, tailors course curriculum for each student based on their strengths and interests. From my experience, the packaging program curriculum covered hard science all the way to the business operation to ensure that all students had a thorough understanding of the technical and manufacturing side of the packaging industry. This program has not only prepared me in navigating the business realm, but also taught me how to have good leadership skills in order to make critical business decisions.

Within my 5 years of experience, I have been challenged to create new and more sustainable packaging products for many leading industries and markets. I work through the entire process of developing the product starting with brainstorming the idea then design, machinery, invention, launch date, and finally creating the on-shelf or online product. By doing innovative designs, I have been receiving design awards and patents, as part of this great company. The packaging program built a strong foundation for me and taught me essential professional skills before I entered the workforce. From the Virginia Tech packaging program, dream big and be ambitious! Let’s go Hokies!

After Graduation

Choosing to be part of the Packaging Systems and Design program is not only about the time here, but the opportunities that will be presented to you after graduation.  There are abundant career opportunities in the packaging industry. Our program has a 90% employment rate, and our graduates earn on average between $65,000 and $85,000 per year upon graduation.  Companies who hire our students cover a wide range of sectors from beauty products to defense companies including Amazon, International Paper, Packaging Corporations of America, HP, Northrop Grumman, L’Oreal, and many others.

Recent job titles for our graduates

Recent employers for our graduates

Word cloud of positions our alumni hold.

Word cloud of positions held by our alumni.

Company logo cloud

Company logo cloud

     If you would like to learn more about the Packaging Systems and Design degree, contact our academic advising center.

Dana McGuire

Dana McGuire

Dana McGuire

Academic Advisor, Sustainable Biomaterials and Assistant Director of Academic Advising
540-231-8032
Dana McGuire  dana.mcguire@vt.edu 
138 Cheatham Hall