Cal Poly Students’ Packaging Line Design Wins National Competition

Pack Solutions Win SmallA team of Cal Poly students took first place in the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s (PMMI) annual PACK Solutions Challenge held Sept. 28-30 in Las Vegas.

Cal Poly’s team won the competition after presenting its proposal for a pharmaceutical packaging line to a panel of industry experts at PACKEXPO.

The PACK Solutions Challenge asked partner schools across the nation to create proposals for a dedicated production line to package and ship a fictional fast-dissolve, over-the-counter pharmaceutical product.

Cal Poly’s team included industrial technology and packaging seniors Nick Abbatelli (San Jose), Rebecca Kisch (Paso Robles), Jeff Norton (Emerald Hills) and Patrick Salibi (Felton). They will share a $4,000 scholarship for their first-place finish. Cal Poly’s team topped entries from seven other schools, including Michigan State and Rutgers University. The group’s poster presentation also earned the People’s Choice Award during the conference.

This is the first time Cal Poly has won the competition. The students came together outside of class during the summer to work on the PMMI project. Under the guidance of Cal Poly Professor Ajay Kathuria, the students developed an end-to-end packaging line solution for a water-sensitive product that incorporated federal regulations, efficiency and economic viability.

The team won the competition because of its hands-on approach, sound technical understanding, hard work, and good communication skills.

For more information about the PACK Solutions Challenge and the PMMI, also known as the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, visit

Pictured (L to R): Jeff Norton, Patrick Salibi, Professor Professor Ajay Kathuria, Rebecca Kisch, Nick Abbatelli and Marc Ostertag, President of competition sponsor B&R Industrial Automation.

Bill Zito Scholarship Awarded to Two Orfalea College Students

Orfalea College seniors Paul Marchetti and Katherine Worland were each honored with a Bill Zito Scholarship from the PMMI Education & Training Foundation. The $750 award recognizes their academic achievements and dedication to advancing their future careers in the packaging industry. To qualify, Paul and Katherine were required to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in packaging professions, maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, indicate involvement in extracurricular activities, and receive a recommendation from a faculty member within the packaging program.

Bill Zito Scholarship winners

Bill Zito Scholarship winners, Paul Marchetti and Katherine Worland, with Dave Christy, Orfalea College of Business dean, and Dr. Jay Singh, director of the Cal Poly Packaging Program.