The Mission: Packaging students have completed their 10th Mission. For their final challenge, we asked them to tell us what they are looking forward to in the future of packaging. To provide us with their predictions, hopes and/or feelings about what the future holds for them and their upcoming careers.

Anna: Like Change, Love to Learn

Simply put, I am excited for my future in packaging. I will be graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in May 2017 and it’s been a fun roller coaster ride over the past five years. Growing up immersed within the agricultural community in Maine started my love for animals and fed my dream of becoming a large animal veterinarian. When it came time to apply for college, I knew, well at least I thought I knew, I wanted to pursue the Veterinarian track.

So, I started my search for the right school and I came across RIT and one of the features of the school that drew my attention was the large population of deaf and hard of hearing students. Growing up as the only auditory oral deaf student in my school district meant I had to pave my way through various road blocks and now here was a college with a wide open road for my future? I applied.

Fast forward a year and a half. I wasn’t content with my major in Biology and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Do I go to another school for animal science? Do I stay at RIT? Long story short, a good college friend of mine started in the packaging program and invited me to come with her to a couple of her classes. I went and fell in love at first sight! Who knew this was a major? I was excited, not because I was staying at RIT but because of the opportunities packaging allows.

Packaging is a unique major because someone can go into structural design, supply chain, procurement, sales, manufacturing or focus on plastics, paperboard, corrugate, or recycled materials without having to go back to school. Packaging allows for people to move and grow, so if you’re someone who likes change and loves to learn, packaging may very well be for you!

I’m excited for the future of packaging because packaging will always be around as long as we have the need to contain, ship, or protect an item. I believe with the increase in the usage of advanced technology, we will see packaging become “smarter.” By smarter I mean we will see more interactive packaging such as incorporating tracking technologies into everyday packaging materials, pill bottles designed to only accept the patients thumbprint to prevent pill abuse,  interactive kids’ packaging with moving images (think Harry Potter), and who knows what else!

Garrett: Impacting Youth and the World

Mission: Packaging was a tremendous learning cycle and the scholarship money helps with loans, bills and textbooks. Money aside, it also got me thinking about different areas of packaging that might not be my first choice, and kept me in touch with industry professionals.

The tenth and last mission we were asking to talk about things like where is packaging now, what direction is packaging heading in, where will packaging take me, and what are my personal goals through this career. I particularly like the last one, personal goals that I want to achieve through packaging.

Through packaging, engineering and sales I really want to make the biggest impact on the world as possible – especially through students. To start, I want more kids in middle and high school to know what packaging is, and what it can do for their career. The fact that still to this day people don’t know what packaging does is slightly alarming to me. When I get settled into my industry job, I want to work with interns so I can help mold the youth. I just want to give back to students and mentor them just like many have done for me. I feel like that has really impacted me exceptionally to become the engineer and salesman I am today. I would like to start a half tuition packaging scholarship through Stouts Scholarship Foundation for outgoing, smart individuals. Personally I don’t necessarily want to design packages my whole life, but instead use this niche in companies to build a well-rounded knowledge base. Eventually, I want to be a decision-marker, making large business decisions for a company that impacts the world in a positive way. It could be in medical, food, consumer, labeling, machinery, storage, sales, distribution, technology or materials. Regardless where I end up, I want to give back to youth and impact this world as much I can.

Eric: Technology, Sustainability, Safety and More

During my participation in Shurtape’s Mission: Packaging Program, I have explored a variety of subjects involving the Packaging profession.  When thinking about what I look forward to in my future in packaging, several topics come to mind.

The first aspect that I look forward to is technology development.  As advancements in technology have become so important in today’s society, it has also become a key factor tying together packaging innovation, continuous improvement, and more sustainable, environmentally responsible solutions.

The relationship between technology and responsible packaging leads me to my next interest in the future of packaging: sustainability. Focus on modified package designs, package material reduction, new materials, and alternative approaches to the general structure, function, and life span of a package demonstrate how the packaging industry is aligning with the sustainability needs of today and tomorrow.  As sustainability continues to capture worldwide interest, the response and actions taken by the innovators in the packaging industry will play a vital role.

Lastly, I am looking forward to the continued advancement of packaging safety.  Advancements in this area of packaging will affect how the product ultimately arrives at the end user and will allow for packaging applications to cross new boundaries.  As packaging safety continues to evolve, this new knowledge will spread into other areas, whether that be new industries, new markets, or untapped uses around the world.

Technology, sustainability, and safety are only three areas that show incredible promise for the future of packaging.  As I pursue my packaging career, these topics and more will play a factor in my professional development.  It is important that companies and packaging professionals alike realize that the potential for the future of packaging is limitless.