FPA Announces 2021 Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge Winners

This year’s first and second place winners were teams of students from the University of Wisconsin–Stout under the direction of Gary Borges. There were also three honorable mentions awarded for the 2021 competition.

FPA’s annual Achievement Awards competition recognizes innovative flexible packaging from across its membership. The industry also believes it is important to encourage and recognize students who are working to become the next generation of packaging designers.

The newly created Emerging Leadership Council (ELC) is now overseeing the Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge and judged this year’s competition. “It was clear that the students put their best foot forward showing out of the box thinking and consumer focused innovation,” notes competition judge, Jonathan Quinn, e-commerce Packaging & Shrink Films Market Manager, NOVA Chemicals, Inc., and Chair of the ELC. “All of the students this year deserve extra accolades tackling this contest during a global pandemic. The students were presented with a whole new set of challenges with labs and classes being closed or virtual. The key for me was operational feasibility; there are a lot of great packaging concept ideas out there, but if you can not operationally execute, that package is nothing more than an idea. The first place winners showcased an innovative approach to a consumer challenge while doing so in an operationally feasible format.”

The first place winning team is comprised of Caylee Boone, Abbey Dahlseng, Liam Gallagher, and Anna Kent. Their winning entry was for a “Baby Shampoo and a Cup” package. The judges felt that the entry was an innovative concept given the form and function of the design as it reduced the overall footprint of the shampoo package. It would also be easy to pack and the cup functionality provided a unique feature that solved a need for the consumer. The judges also felt this concept would be operationally feasible. The winning team also won an honorable mention for the “Peelable and Resealable Popcorn Gusseted Pouch” they submitted for the competition. The judges thought the pouch would provide an improved experience for the consumer for popcorn vs. the bags used today.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on this FPA Student Flexible Packaging Design Competition. It was such a fun and Band-Assist Bandages—Student Team: Connor Erwin, Corey Klatt, and Ben Lindgren; School: University of Wisconsin – Stout; Professor: Gary Borges, LecturerBand-Assist Bandages—Student Team: Connor Erwin, Corey Klatt, and Ben Lindgren; School: University of Wisconsin – Stout; Professor: Gary Borges, Lecturerrewarding process to not only see our ideas turn into prototypes but to think of the positive impacts this package could have on the environment and its users,” states Boone. “The success our group had would not have been possible without the knowledge and support from our professor, Gary Borges. Our team collaborated well together and we’re excited that others viewed our packaging concept as valuable as we did.”

According to Kent, “The Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge was certainly a challenge. But this only encouraged a few other students and me as we brainstormed many ideas and then narrowed our thoughts down and started creating flexible packages and pouches for the challenge. We then researched and understood the logistics and applications of our ideas. Altogether, the challenge encouraged teamwork and innovation and I feel our group had fun doing just that!”

A packaging concept for bandages was the second place winner, also a team of students from the University of Wisconsin – Stout. Connor Erwin, Corey Klatt, and Ben Lindgren, also under the direction of Gary Borges, designed a flexible packaging solution for bandages to improve the current paperboard packaging. The pouch application for bandages was seen by the judges as being highly functional and solving the need for a better travel package for bandages. The team also won an honorable mention for another competition entry they submitted, the “Flexible Travel Shampoo & Conditioner,” due to a reclosable feature and that it provided a substitution for rigid plastic.

Team spokesperson Connor Erwin notes, "It was rewarding to win second place in this design competition and receive an honorable mention because we put a lot of time and effort into the Design Challenge. Even though we didn't win first place in this competition, it helped us expand our professional network and knowledge in flexible packaging." 

The final honorable mention was awarded to Jai Araujo from San José State University under the direction of Xiaojing (Kate) Liu, Ph.D., for her Running Water — The Water for Runners concept. The judges felt this submission deserved an honorable mention due to its innovative “interlocking” mechanism and saw other applications for the pouches at festivals or hiking.

According to Araujo, "Participating in the FPA competition this year was extra challenging because of the pandemic situation, but with the help of Dr. Kate, I was able to develop and test the prototype. I’m grateful for the honorable mention and pleased that the judges also believe that the concept was a good idea.”  

The ELC judges for the competition included:
• Jonathan Quinn, e-commerce Packaging & Shrink Film Market Manager, NOVA Chemicals, Inc., ELC Chair

• Adrianne Tipton, Chief Technology Officer, Novolex, ELC Vice Chair

• Evan Arnold, V.P. Business Development, Glenroy, Inc., ELC Advocacy Committee Vice Chair

• Alana Carr, Inside Sales & Marketing Manager, Hosokawa Alpine American, Inc., ELC Education Committee Chair

• Erik Gonring, Director of Sustainability, Novolex, ELC Education Committee Vice Chair

• Simon Hermans, Marketing & Sales Director North America, Südpack Oak Creek Corporation, ELC Leadership Development Committee Vice Chair

• Stacey Isonhood, Product Development Manager, Printpack, ELC Leadership Development Committee Chair

• Mathieu Jeanneau, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, St. Johns Packaging Ltd., ELC Recruitment Committee Vice Chair

• Apurva Shah, Sr. Market Manager, Charter Next Generation, ELC Recruitment Committee Chair

• Clayton Short, Applications Engineer, American Packaging Corporation, ELC Advocacy Committee Chair

Also, FPA recently announced the winners of its 65th Annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Competition.  Click here to see the Gold and Silver winners.

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