Cal Poly Teams Place in AICC’s 2017 Student Packaging Challenge

Two Cal Poly packaging teams ranked highly at the AICC 2017 Student Packaging Design Competition’s structural challenge section.

The competition asked student teams to develop a corrugated shipping container that could safely package a hammer and four light bulbs. The teams of industrial technology and consumer packaging solutions students created their designs during ITP 408: Paper and Paperboard Packaging course taught by lecturer Irene Carbonell during spring quarter.

Second place went to the “EZ-Bulb” design, created by industrial technology students Austin Kron (Palo Alto) and Derek Breshears (SLO) and business administration student Kevin Rivas (San Jose). Third place went to “Eco-Light Bulb & Box” designed by industrial technology students Paige Topole (Mountain View), Simeon Comanescu (Pleasanton), and Atlanta Nguyen (Sacramento). Both teams received prize money for their entries.

For more information on AICC’s student design competitions, visit

Packaging Student Wins $4,000 Scholarship

Cal Poly’s Packaging Program was recently awarded the 2017 New Jersey Packaging Executives Club (NJPEC) scholarship for $4,000. The NJPEC scholarships are designed to support students enrolled in a packaging science or packaging engineering program. The Packaging Program has given the $4,000 scholarship to industrial technology and packaging senior Eric Singh. Originally from Pleasanton, Calif., Singh was recognized for his academic excellence.

For more information, visit the NJPEC website at

Q&A with Packaging Alumnus Cameron Fasola

Cameron FasolaThe following announcement and interview were originally featured in an email from the Paperboard Packaging Alliance.

Meet Cameron Fasola, packaging engineer at Fitbit and the Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s second guest judge for the 2017 Student Design Challenge.

Cameron graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and packaging. His exceptional student career included a successful internship with Amazon Lab 126 and recognition as the Cal Poly Packaging Program’s Outstanding Student of the Year. Since graduation, Cameron has been working as a packaging engineer at Fitbit in San Francisco, California. At Fitbit, he has launched 17 different stock keeping units for eight separate products, with more on the way!

Join us as Cameron talks about how he got involved in paperboard packaging design and what he thinks makes a good paperboard package.

PPA: What attracted you to the paperboard packaging industry?
CF: I fell into the Packaging Program at Cal Poly by accident. I did not enjoy my business classes and wanted the opportunity to get my hands dirty. My friend showed me his Industrial Technology and Packaging labs. Within a day I was filing for a change of major and I haven’t looked back since. One of the aspects I love most about the paperboard packaging industry is the versatility of what I get to work on every day. Some days, I am an engineer who gets to test and break things; others, I am working with Industrial Design and marketing to create a product that sells itself on the shelf; and some, I am travelling to teach factories how to make my designs a reality.

PPA: What does your typical work day look like?
CF: My day always starts with a big breakfast. From there, I am checking emails to see what has developed overseas the night before. I usually have meetings with suppliers up until lunch. (Lunch winds up being Chipotle 90 percent of the time). After lunch, I have meetings to align with the Product Development team and then I have the rest of the day to design, ideate, test, and innovate. I like to finish the workday at the gym (we are a fitness company after all), and if I am lucky, I will have a few calls with the Asia teams before dinner.

PPA: Why do you prefer to work with paperboard?
CF: Paper is a natural material. It looks and feels high quality, it is sustainable, and it is strong. I am constantly looking for greener solutions and paper is always at the top of that list.

PPA: What stands out to you when you look at packaging?
CF: Creativity. Anyone can make a box, but a package jumps out when it integrates new geometries, creative unboxing mechanisms, and interesting consumer interactions.

PPA: What is your favorite package you designed for a product and why?
CF: I just made a new mechanism on an upcoming Fitbit accessory that eliminates glue. The old design entailed gluing trays into a rigid box. This new one entails tabs on the tray that lock into a cutout in the rigid box. It won’t be noticed by 99 percent of customers, but I have been geeking out over it for months.

PPA: What do you hope to see from this year’s Student Design Challenge entries?
CF: Something new! I love seeing a solution to a problem that I never would have thought of. Truly successful packaging is all about an enjoyable, seamless customer interaction.

PPA: What do you hope to see in the future of paperboard packaging? And what are the most essential skills new designers need to bring into the industry?
CF: Adopting the natural look of paper. Too many companies want something that is natural and sustainable but also looks homogenous and perfect. As a natural substance, paper will always be “flawed.” I hope to see designers and companies embrace paper’s texture and imperfections – that is part of the fun!

Cal Poly Packaging Program Ranked No. 1 in the Nation

Value Colleges Packaging Program Rankings 2017Cal Poly’s Packaging Program was recently ranked as the No. 1 program in the nation by The program, housed in the Orfalea College of Business, is a top source of talent for professionals skilled in materials testing, design and logistics. created its packaging program rankings based on program costs, reputation rankings from a university’s U.S. News and World Report overall score, and return on investment metrics calculated from the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard salary data.

Cal Poly’s program took the top spot due to Cal Poly’s strong reputation in STEM fields including its 24 years as U.S. News and World Report’s “Best in the West” public master’s university, according to the rankings announcement. The program’s competitive costs for its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs also set the stage for high ROI for graduates going into the workforce with strong starting salaries.

Cal Poly’s Packaging Program is one of the only ones in the nation to be housed in a business school, not an engineering, graphic design or agriculture program. In addition to a minor that is open to all of the university’s students, the undergraduate program provides a consumer packaging solutions concentration to business administration majors and a packaging concentration to industrial technology and packaging majors. Cal Poly’s new 100-percent online M.S. in Packaging Value Chain program, which merges packaging supply chain, analytics, marketing and design, will debut in fall 2018. The master’s program will also feature professional certificates that can be completed online in just a few months.

The program is led by its director, Professor Jay Singh, who has been with Cal Poly since 2003. Singh has been instrumental in building a strong team of packaging faculty, including Professors Koushik Saha, Ajay Kathuria, Javier de la Fuente and Irene Carbonell. The program has also confirmed plans to launch a Center for Packaging Value Chain that will not only support its academic programs, but provide continuing education to packaging professionals and conduct valuable research for industry partners.

To see the full rankings, visit

Cal Poly Packaging Program to Host Fresh Produce Packaging Seminar May 22-24

freshPACKmoves 2017 May 22-24 Monterey, CACal Poly’s Packaging Program faculty will host freshPACKmoves, an educational seminar focused on fresh produce packaging, May 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Monterey, Calif. The event will look specifically at e-commerce’s growing role in the fresh produce packaging industry as home-delivery services for consumers become increasingly popular.

freshPACKmoves will feature several industry speakers, including keynote presentations from the leaders of Blue Apron, UPS Customer Solutions and Imperfect Produce. It will also include expert panels and interactive discussions on packaging’s role in food waste, traceabilty and food safety, and consumer expectations in e-commerce and retail. On the final day, attendees will tour of farms in the Salinas area to survey the complete supply chain from grower, to packer, to shipper.

“In true Learn by Doing spirit, we want the attendees to have hands-on experiences and walk away with a competitive edge in their field,” said Cal Poly’s Packaging Program Director Jay Singh.

The seminar, now in its fourth year, is especially suited to professionals responsible for translating perishable quality initiatives into packaging, supply chain, logistics and food safety solutions for their companies. Content will be geared toward product development directors, regulators, industry suppliers, transportation directors and operations managers.

For more information and registration, visit