Cal Poly Graduates Maximize Power Of Industry’s Packaging Value Chain

Packaging as an academic discipline in North America has been evolving ever since the first packaging program was launched in 1952 at Michigan State University. Over the past decades, numerous programs have evolved throughout North American colleges and universities, all with the aim of providing a highly trained workforce to meet the ever-increasing demand of the booming global packaging industry.

While graduate programs have evolved to focus on specific areas of expertise within the field, the basic mission of undergraduate education remains the focus of most packaging programs. Cal Poly’s Master’s and Certificate packaging programs, however, are different. Their unique “Learn by Doing” emphasis on the “Packaging Value Chain” has drilled to the very core of paperboard packaging’s “value proposition” while continuing to educate stellar students who have gone on to accept positions at packaging producers throughout the United States and around the world.

Aside from a thriving packaging minor, the packaging programs at Cal Poly have grown by leaps and bounds over the last 18 years. In 2003, the school only offered a packaging “minor” and had limited equipment in the labs. The only faculty member then was Dr. Jay Singh, who has marshalled the program with passion and professionalism since its inception and who continues to spearhead the school’s bold initiatives into the future. 

With the increasing demand for packaging education, and the unflinching support of the administration, Cal Poly rapidly expanded its curriculum and its packaging team, upgraded its packaging laboratories, grew the program to become a “Concentration” and eventually offered a Master’s degree, and engaged with the industry towards support and research by launching a research consortium and eventually, a Center for Research. 

In 18 remarkable years of growth that has paralleled that of the packaging industry, Cal Poly has:

Launched two Concentrations: Packaging Technology and Consumer Packaging

Increased the number of packaging courses from five to 23 Bachelors and Master’s courses, or 360 percent

Increased the number of faculty in the program from one to 14 

Increased the number of students taking packaging courses towards fulfilment of either a minor, a major, a Concentration or the Master’s degree requirements from 125 to 400, or 220 percent

Produced packaging students who are winning 6-8 national and international competitions each year 

Engaged the participation of approximately 35 companies in the annual packaging career fair since 2018 

Secured approximately $3 million in equipment for its packaging labs through college support, industry donations, grants and personal contributions from the Packaging Advisory Board, which grew from 15 to 40, or 167 percent 

Trained hundreds of students on a Kongsberg CAD table and Esko Packaging software, which was made possible through the donations of ICPF

Developed a Research Consortium, which has assisted the fresh produce industry with applied research since 2008

Amassed a portfolio of funded research that has grown to approximately $300,000 a year 

Educated future industry leaders since 2018 with its MS in Packaging Value Chain (MSPVC) degree 

And finally, received approval to create a Research Center for the Packaging Value Chain. 

Indeed, throughout this all, the focus of the program has been on the “packaging value chain” and its critical importance to the thriving success and future of the global packaging industry.

Cal Poly’s latest achievements — the MSPVC degree, and Professional Certificates — embrace the disciplines of packaging science and technology, data analytics, design, marketing, finance, supply chain, operations, and quantitative analysis. This instructor-led 100 percent online program was launched in 2018 to promote transference of learning to workplace while providing opportunities to assume leadership roles and advance careers for working professionals. 

Affordable in terms of cost, time and effort, this program facilitates professional students’ collaborative learning with peers from varied geographical, personal, and professional backgrounds. For students too busy to commit to the MSPVC degree program, Cal Poly also offer Professional Certificates programs, which offer courses leading the understanding of the critical subsets of Marketability, Design, Analytics and Logistics & Supply Chains. The links below provide additional information for the MSPVC and Professional Certificates programs. 

The adventure continues as Cal Poly’s Packaging Program continues to evolve while advancing the discipline and producing future generations of the industry’s packaging professionals. 

-Won’t you join us on our adventure?

For questions, contact Dr. Jay Singh at (805) 756-2129 or jasingh@calpoly.edu or visit https://gradbusiness.calpoly.edu/ms-packaging-value-chain for more information on Cal Poly’s MSVPC and  https://gradbusiness.calpoly.edu/packaging-value-chain for PVC Professional Certificates.      

Dr. Jay Singh was the first faculty member of Cal Poly’s Packaging Program and continues to spearhead the school’s bold initiatives into the future