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Students competing in the fifth PACK Solutions Challenge will present proposals for a packaging line upgrade commissioned by a fictional processor and packager of health care products during PACK EXPO Las Vegas, from Sept. 23–25.

A private company specializing in automation equipment manufacturing, B&R Industrial Automation is sponsoring the annual contest, which the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI) debuted in 2009. PMMI is the owner and producer of PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

“The PACK Solutions Challenge supports PMMI’s mission to help develop the packaging and processing workforce. It fosters student interest in the field, provides real-world experience solving problems and creating proposals with detailed rationale and strengthens the next generation of professionals coming into the industry,” said Maria Ferrante, vice president of education and workforce development, PMMI.

Giving the students hands-on experience tackling challenges typical to the day-to-day work of engineers and technicians at consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs), the 2013 PACK Solutions Challenge comes from Lucas Parker Incorporated, a fictional processor and packager of health care products.

Students’ proposals — developed using resources found at packexpo.com and meetings with exhibitors on the show floor — will address complex specifications for Lucas Parker’s mouthwash production, including:

  • Accommodating frequent packaging line changeovers
  • Clean, drip-free filling and maximum filling accuracy
  • Compliance with sanitary design specifications for over-the-counter pharmaceutical products

“The students are required to exercise problem-solving skills, conduct research and present their conclusions in a convincing manner — it’s the same type of situation they will encounter after joining the workforce. This experience is invaluable as they move forward with their education and their career, especially as they look to enter the packaging and processing industry,” said John Kowal, director of business development, B&R Industrial Automation.

Student teams represent packaging programs from seven PMMI partner schools throughout the U.S.:

  • Cal Poly State University
  • Clemson University
  • Purdue University Calumet
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Florida
  • Virginia Tech

Teams will present their findings to a panel of judges on Sept. 24. Judges scheduled include representatives from Chattem, Keurig, Pepsi Beverage Co. and Schrieber Foods, Inc. In addition, the student teams’ poster displays will be shown in the Education and Workforce Development Pavilion, beginning Sept. 23, after 2:00 p.m., so attendees can peruse them and vote for their favorite solution. PMMI’s “People’s Choice” winner will be announced following PACK EXPO, and all attendees who vote will be entered into a drawing for a new iPad.

PMMI’s Packaging Education & Training Foundation will provide scholarships to the winning teams. First place team members will share $4,000; second place, $2,000; and third place, $1,000.

See related article: “SMB FastTrack at PACK EXPO Las Vegas aims to support small businesses.

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