Marketing and Packaging Collaborations Create New Opportunities for Students and Faculty

Consumer Packaging Solutions Student

Over the past year, the Orfalea College of Business’ Marketing and Industrial Technology & Packaging areas have seen incredible collaborative success in new hands-on student learning and faculty research opportunities.

In the spring of 2015, the Orfalea College of Business celebrated graduation with the first-ever cohort of business students concentrating in consumer packaging solutions (CPS). The concentration was launched in 2012 and offers business majors entry into the rapidly expanding and dynamic field of consumer packaging.

The intersection between packaging and marketing yields fertile ground for Learn by Doing experiences, such as the CPS culminating senior project experience designed by marketing Professor Lynn Metcalf with support from packaging faculty advisor and Professor Javier de la Fuente. In the course, students work in small groups and use design-thinking techniques to drive packaging innovation. Students have the opportunity to create new-to-the-world package designs, and conduct extensive research in the consumer and retail environments to uncover areas of opportunity for value creation. In the final stages of the project, the groups then develop prototypes to be validated by existing customers.

Matt Wright, president, CEO and co-founder of packaging startup Specright, supported cross-disciplinary student learning in the CPS senior project class. “The combination of marketing and packaging produces a skillset that enhances speed to market, which is critical to a company’s ability to compete.”

Students aren’t the only ones gaining valuable experience in this emerging field. This fall, Metcalf, de la Fuente, and Professor Jeff Hess will build on previous research work to further establish consumer package decisions as a fundamental consideration in the marketing value chain. Faculty collaboration on research is expected to promote a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines.

“If this research is successful, it will motivate marketing and packaging decision-makers to rethink the impact of packaging on the consumption experience and by extension a product’s value proposition,” said Hess.

The college is excited by the present collaborations between the two areas, and is looking forward to continued work in the fields of marketing and packaging.

The team is considering hosting a focus group during the 2016 Open House weekend. Marketing alumni interested in getting involved should contact Lynn Metcalf at

Cal Poly Students Take Second in 48 Hour Re-Pack

Repack - HeaderA team of Orfalea College of Business students placed second in the nation in the 48 Hour Re-Pack, a competition that challenges students to redesign a consumer product’s packaging in just two days. Industrial technology and packaging students Rebecca Kisch, Janel Takeda, Sally Yingst, Sarah Deffner and Caitlin Khamasta recently traveled to Atlanta, Ga. for their final presentation and the awards ceremony. The team received $2,000 in prize money along with their awards.

The team redesigned packaging for a line of gluten-free four called Nature’s Medley. The design acknowledged the culture shift toward healthier alternatives to all-purpose flour used in small quantities with more natural packaging materials. The striking nine-sided package featured pour spout with a removable lid that doubled as a measuring cup. The recyclable paperboard would also protect against pests and transportation damage. Cal Poly’s team not only engineered the package’s structure and designed its labeling, it produced a video showcasing the packaging’s benefits — all within 48 hours. To view the video, visit

This is the first time Cal Poly has competed in the 48 Hour Re-Pack. The competition “encourages creative problem-solving and “smart design” for packaging of everyday products.” This year marked the sixth annual event, hosted by the Institute of Packaging Professionals’ Southeastern Chapter.

For more details on Cal Poly’s design, click here.

A Message from area Chair Eric Olsen

olsen_09 smallHello Program Supporters,

In case you haven’t heard, I took over as area chair in July of last year, succeeding Manocher Djassemi, who did a great job. In my first annual newsletter, it is only right that I recognize and thank Manocher for his three years of service as chair. He did a lot to realign our curriculum, improve our scheduling, and hire new faculty members, whom you’ll read about later in this newsletter. Manocher’s turn as chair will be remembered as a period of stability, focus and professionalism that was appreciated by faculty and students.

We began 2015 with the good news that the review team from the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering has recommended our program for another six years of accreditation. The review team shared that programs are rarely recommended without a corrective action report or follow-up visit. This solid result is a testament to the effort lead by Manocher, and we owe him a debt of thanks. I have three other news items I would like to share:

• You may have noticed the program name change on the cover of this newsletter. We are now the Industrial Technology & Packaging area. This will be effective with the 2015-17 catalog cycle. This name change has been a long time coming, and it allows us to recognize the large and vital role that the Packaging Program plays in our major.

• In support of our name change, we are embarking on an effort to strengthen both disciplines by creating separate concentrations in industrial technology and packaging technology. We will be adding courses and professors in support of this effort.

• We have just completed a marketing study to support a potential relaunch of our master’s program. The details are still being worked out, but the goal will be to create a world-class program to provide advanced education in packaging value chains. We’ll continue to update you on our progress.

Finally, I would like to reach out for your support. It takes an extended network of alumni and industry professionals to continue to make our program successful. If you see an area where you can help or get involved, please pick up the phone or drop me an email. My actual and virtual door is always open.
Eric Olsen, Chair