From Lab to Real Life: Industrial Technology Student Projects Take Off

Cal Poly’s Industrial Technology and Packaging students have been busy in the labs this year designing new products, prototyping products, and manufacturing their innovative solutions for use in the real world. These Learn by Doing projects provide students the chance to work together, utilize industry-leading equipment, and analyze industry trends, all contributing to career-ready confidence.

Hitch HiderIn the capstone course IT 407: Applied Business Operations, students have the chance to design, manufacture, and sell a self-made product. They invest their own money into producing 80 to 100 units and must then market and sell their creations to the community. Some of this year’s innovative designs include an outdoor barbecue caddy, a trailer hitch hide-a-key, a golf tee organizer, and magnetic bottle opener. To learn more about each product and team, visit the IT 407 page.

Students in the Industrial Technology Society also helped Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong create custom spatulas as gifts for the holiday season. Students manufactured hundreds of metal and wood spatulas, which featured an engraving of the Cal Poly logo. The spatulas were then bundled with Cal Poly salsa and seasoning in custom packaging designed by the students. Student holds a new Cal Poly spatulaThe Industrial Technology and Packaging Area is now selling these spatulas. To purchase or for more information, contact Ray Kisch at

Students have also had the chance to showcase their packaging skills outside of the Cal Poly campus. In January, two groups of industrial technology, packaging and art and design students participated in the 48-Hour RePack competition, where students from around the world work to design and prototype a new-to-the-world package from scratch in just one weekend. Both teams worked together, self-directed, and even shared feedback with each other, despite the fact that they were direct competitors. Each team engineered new packaging and created a video to market the design.

Pacific Roast packagingTeam Pacific Roast created a hexagonal modular dispenser for single-use coffee pods. Team Barbie created the School’s Out Barbie: Color and Play integrated traditional doll packaging with a coloring book for buyers to use or keep instead of throwing the package away. Professor Colleen Twomey from the Graphic Communication Department and Professor Mary LaPorte from the Art & Design Department supported the teams along with Orfalea’s packaging faculty.