Jay Singh Joins Packaging Digest’s Editorial Advisory Board

singh_09Jay Singh, professor and director of Cal Poly’s Packaging Program in the Orfalea College of Business, has joined industry professionals from Coca-Cola, ConAgra, and Campbell Soup Co. on the Packaging Digest Editorial Advisory Board. The advisory board will guide the publication as it explores packaging industry news, research and innovations.

“This is a tremendous brain-trust of packaging leaders with cumulative decades of experience,” said Packaging Digest Executive Editor Lisa McTigue Pierce. “We appreciate their commitment to serve and will tap them for general ideas, as well as input on specific topics.” She anticipates the group will contribute background consultations as well as networking assistance for investigative stories.

Singh lends the advisory board an extensive background in academic research and professional consulting related to package design and implementation. The other members of Packaging Digest’s Editorial Advisory Board include:

  • Scott Biondich, group director of sparkling, packaging & IC equipment development at Coca-Cola North America
  • Jane Chase, senior director of packaging engineering at Schwan’s Shared Services LLC and The Schwan Food Co.
  • David France, packaging research fellow at ConAgra Foods Packaging R&I
  • Nina Goodrich, executive director of Sustainable Packaging Coalition/Greenblue
  • Mary Gregg, director of packaging at Campbell North America and Campbell Soup Co.
  • David Luttenberger, CPP, global packaging director at Mintel Group Ltd.
  • Joe Mase, vice president of marketing & business development at Sagent Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Eva Peters, global head of packaging development & industrial design at Novartis Consumer Health

Packaging Digest aims to help professionals understand and advance the packaging process and provides informative articles and solutions to achieving the highest levels of efficiency and profitability. For more information on Packaging Digest, visit http://www.packagingdigest.com/.

Cal Poly Program Attracts Tech Startup to San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly packaging students work with the Specright team at their office in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business has teamed up with Specright LLC, a packaging specification management startup based in Irvine, Calif., to offer part-time work year round to Cal Poly packaging students.

The company opened a new office in San Luis Obispo to be closer to Cal Poly’s industrial technology and packaging programs. Specright hired 15 Cal Poly students as packaging engineers this month.

“We have been unbelievably impressed with the maturity and professionalism of Cal Poly students and the skills they have,” said Brett Hall, Specright’s vice president of product development. “They can come in and immediately make a contribution. We’re thrilled with the partnership.”

The students will offer reverse engineer packaging services and create specification files for manufacturing needs. Employees will then catalog the specifications into Specright’s proprietary software platform to give clients and suppliers access to reliable, consistent data. The company’s enterprise-neutral, cloud-based model aims to save money, time and redundancy for packaging clients in a variety of industries.

“I am hoping this job experience helps improve my skills and lets me build relationships in the industry ­– because in packaging, everyone knows everyone,” said Cal Poly business senior Jacob McKinney.

Specright also hired Victor Sanchez, who recently graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in industrial technology and a minor in packaging, as a full-time engineering supervisor to manage the part-time team. He led the cohort through a training program on Specright’s software and immediate projects. “I’m excited to see Specright grow and to see our progress. I want to make each Cal Poly student we hire better than I am,” he said.

While Cal Poly will be a source of packaging engineers for Specright, the startup will in turn work with faculty to evolve curriculum and packaging best practices in a variety of industries. “We look to the university for advice,” Specright’s Hall said. “Cal Poly is a cornerstone in the packaging world, and it can help us anticipate how the industry is moving for better strategy. It’s a win-win.”

Specright is expanding and building relationships with companies throughout California and the U.S. in packaging and other disciplines. Cal Poly students are working on projects in the produce and industrial sectors for Specright clients. According to company spokesperson Adam Fugate, the company is already expanding to include more manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, and packaging commodities clients.

“In my mind, this is the hallmark of our career-readiness efforts in our program,” said Jay Singh, Cal Poly’s Packaging Program director. “Our graduates have gained such a strong reputation in the industry that the demand itself is attracting businesses here. I’m thrilled to see the potential for more collaboration with Specright in the years to come.”

For more information on Specright, visit www.specright.com.

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business Names Local Business Leader as Honored Alumnus

Honored Alumnus Michael Bickel in the Orfalea College of Business' Metals Lab at Cal Poly.

Honored Alumnus Michael Bickel in the Orfalea College of Business’ Metals Lab at Cal Poly.

Michael C. Bickel, president and CEO of RPS Holdings, was named the 2014-15 Honored Alumnus of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. He is a 1995 graduate of the college’s Industrial Technology area, which combines a business education with technical courses covering the operations side of manufacturing. He went on to complete his master’s degree in the same discipline at Cal Poly in 2002.

Bickel has been an involved member of the college’s Industrial Technology Advisory Board since 2005. In that role, he has contributed to the overall strategic plan of the area. Bickel has also guest lectured in a product development course, orchestrated industrial technology projects and mentored student teams. In 2008, Bickel created the Bickel Family Scholarship Endowment to support incoming industrial technology freshmen.

“Mike is a great friend of the college and a prime example of how the comprehensive polytechnic model works here,” says Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson. “The Industrial Technology area has built such a great reputation, and we know that’s in part to leaders like Mike who help guide it forward.”

Bickel’s company, RPS Holdings, owns Rantec Power Systems, an engineering and upper-tier designer and manufacturer of power supplies for the military and aerospace markets based in Los Osos, Calif. He started his career at Rantec in 1982 as a quality assurance inspector. After he rose to the position of general manager, Bickel purchased the company to oversee its expansion and success. He continues to serve as Rantec’s president. Today, Rantec employs many Cal Poly alumni from the College of Engineering; roughly 60 percent of its professional hires are Cal Poly graduates.

Bickel lives locally with his wife, Lori (Graphic Communications ‘86). His daughter, Alexandra (Recreation, Parks & Tourism Administration ‘12), is also a Cal Poly alumna, and son Aaron is an alumnus of the University of Oregon (Economics ’14).

The title of Honored Alumni is the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus by the Cal Poly Alumni Association. Cal Poly named its first Honored Alumnus in 1953. In the 1970s, the university began recognizing former students from each of its academic colleges. Bickel joins this year’s cohort of Honored Alumni from Cal Poly’s other colleges, as well as awards for leadership and distinguished services.

For more information, visit Cal Poly’s Homecoming website.