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

Business Faculty Lead Two Study Abroad Programs to India

By: Lauren Piraro
Special to Mustang News

India is 8,290 miles away from California, nestled between Pakistan and Nepal. Someone who is not familiar with India might conjure up colorful visions of an exotic and foreign land teeming with life and cultural complexities.

Though not typically thought of as a study abroad destination, India has many lessons to teach Cal Poly students — in and out of the classroom.

With two new study abroad programs, “Business and Culture in India” and “Management and Culture in India,” being introduced this year, students will have the opportunity to get to know the real India while also earning college credit.

Cal Poly packaging program director and business administration professor Jay Singh is eager to embark on a four-week experiential business and culture course that’s distinctly tailored with a unique approach to learning.

“You go to a new company, it’s a new classroom,” he explained. “It’s not anything that I know Cal Poly or any other program is doing currently where the classroom changes three times a day on the road.”

The “Business and Culture in India” program includes a humanities and business administration course, “India: Culture, Traditions and Globalization” and “Indian Business Culture.” The humanities course will focus on various aspects of India’s culture, like spirituality, geography and history that heavily influence the country’s business operations.

Singh estimates that he will be visiting at least 20 companies throughout the course of the trip. During the graduate student study abroad programs that he has led in the past, visits have included Cisco, Google and IBM.

Singh said that learning about India’s unique business structure will further business students’ careers.

“You’ve got all these crazy things going on that would never be acceptable to our society, but these are the type of countries that will be dictating terms in a few decades,” he said. “I’m just exposing students to the human side of things. You could take all the business courses here at Cal Poly and never understand that aspect.”

While traveling from New Delhi to Agra, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, students will have the option to further immerse themselves into the culture with visits to a yoga ashram, the opportunity to experience Mumbai’s nightlife, participate in cooking classes and visit open air street markets. Each city will also incorporate a guided tour along with a free day to wander and explore.

“We’ll be taking them to the Taj Mahal, some forts and factories and we’ll see things being made and constructed,” Singh said. “If they think they know Indian food, it’s going to be an eye-opener.”

Singh incorporates pre-departure sessions into his program to better prepare the students for the adventure ahead.

“We try to get them to learn about India as much as they can beforehand,” he said. “Then again, we can’t really prepare anyone for it. Even I get surprised when I go back there, even though I’ve been there so many times.”

Understanding different types of business and culture is critical for students, whether they are seeking degrees in business or not, Singh says.

“The exposure will bring a lot of meaning to whoever participates,” he said. “It’s not just a course. It’s also about learning about yourself, learning to adapt, learning to be understanding. And that’s the underlying theme throughout all of this.”

Another new and emerging Cal Poly study abroad opportunity in India is “Management and Culture in India,” led by international management professor Beena Khurana.

The courses within the program includes “Culture of India,” a humanities course and a business course titled “International and Cross-cultural management.” Classes are at the Indian School of Business, a premiere college within the country located in Hyderabad.

“I teach international management and cross-cultural relations, so taking a course like that in India is virtually like having a laboratory right around you,” she said. “It makes wonderful sense.”

She plans to begin in Hyderabad while making her way to Mohali. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to explore the culture of India through many varied and colorful assignments, like wearing traditional Indian clothing for a day and renting out an auditorium for a screening of a Bollywood film.

“One is never too old to become bicultural,” she explained. “The idea is that I am going to introduce you to a new culture and encourage you to embrace it. And you should come back a changed person.”

Excursions outside of the main city include a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra and a trek to Amritsar’s Golden Temple. A visit to the Wagha Border of India and Pakistan for the changing of the guard will be a great learning experience for students.

“This really gives the students a good sense of history and a good sense of India’s colonial past,” she said.

While visiting the cities, Khurana scheduled tours to better acquaint the students with nearby temples, architectural monuments and markets.

Guest lectures are also planned with speakers discussing Indian literature, social movements and women’s issues in India. Visits to varying types of businesses and companies are also on the itinerary.

“You will see things that bother you,” she said. “On the other hand, you will also see things that really please you. It’s a country that speaks to your heart and you must be prepared to feel.”

Khurana says her goal is to make sure students come back from their trip with a widened perspective.

“One could first ask, ‘Why travel to India?’” she said. “India has become a progressively larger player on the global scene. It really behooves us to introduce India to Cal Poly students and that’s my objective.”

Khurana explains that her program is an effective way to gain bi-cultural experience, whether you are a business major or not, which is an attractive quality to employers.

“You might come back from India not having liked it, but you might come back having fallen in love with the place,” she said. “You will never know sitting here in San Luis Obispo.”

To read the original Mustang News article, visit

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

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