Packaging-engineering team takes first at Pack Expo International

Speechless.

That’s how Alex Tipton said he felt when he found out UF’s packaging-engineering team placed first in a national competition.

He said he spent two months helping his peers prepare a hypothetical packaging proposal for a fictional company. Five other students competed on UF’s team at the Pack Expo International 2012 conference last week, where they won $4,000 in scholarship funds to be split among them.

“Winning definitely made it worthwhile,” the 22-year-old senior said.

Bruce Welt, coordinator of UF’s packaging-engineering program, said packaging engineers plan the physical packaging for products, and the conference is one of the industry’s biggest events.

“It’s kind of like the Super Bowl of the packaging industry,” he said.

Gaby Cruz, a 23-year-old senior, said the project allowed students to gain real-world experience.

“When they first arrived, it was clear they were better prepared than others,” Welt said. “It looked like some other teams were kind of scrambling after they saw what our students had put up.”

Welt said UF’s program is technical as opposed to other schools’ science-based curricula.

“I think that contributed to the level of success we’re now seeing,” he said.

Colleen Delaney was another student on UF’s team. The 22-year-old senior said she thought UF proved itself at the competition.

“Once we got there and started to see other proposals, our confidence grew,” she said. “We knew we pored over every last detail of this project.”