Indiana State University received a multi-million-dollar in-kind gift of package engineering technology software from Esko, a global developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging industry. This partnership continues the company’s two decades of support for the program.
For the next three years, Esko will provide 50 software licenses to industry-leading programs. The partnership will keep ISU students on the cutting edge of the profession and promote a skilled workforce for Esko customers. ISU’s program has a 100 percent placement rate into jobs after graduation.
“We’re grateful for Esko’s generous and long-running support for our packaging engineering technology program,” ISU President Deborah J. Curtis said. “This program will continue to grow as part of what makes ISU unique and impactful, and this gift will help us promote this important program.”
Melissa Plemen, Esko Sr. Director of Inside Sales and Marketing, said the company was thrilled to continue supporting the education of the next generation of packaging employees.
“As technological advances lead to changes within the sector, it’s vitally important that the industry supports the education and training of young people as we drive to develop and inspire the packaging experts of the future,” Plemen said. “We strongly believe in investing in the future of our industry and have supported schools across the country in this way for a number of years now. We’re delighted to be able to continue that with this latest significant donation in kind.”
The partnership with ISU doubles the number of students who have access to the same software used to develop nine out of 10 retail packages. Expansion of the partnership includes a cloud-based version of Esko software, which allows students to work on classroom projects in a remote setting. In addition, the College of Technology Packaging Engineering Lab is equipped with the software, allowing students to seamlessly transition projects to the production stage.
“Esko’s support is giving our students access to the leading software used by industry professionals,” said Nesli Alp, Dean of the College of Technology. “Our goal is to grow our program to meet industry needs in Indiana and the Midwest, and our partnership with Esko is ensuring our students are prepared for the workforce.”
ISU’s program teaches what students need to know in the real world of packaging, said Walter Gill, President of Arrow Packaging Solutions of Indianapolis, a full-service, concept-to-creation packaging supplier that partners with ISU’s packaging engineering technology program.
“When we partnered with ISU, it was apparent that they are teaching all aspects of what packaging really is --- not just that the students’ career path might put their design on the shelf, but that their design might transport the product safely through the supply chain,” Gill said.
The Esko software included in the partnership is also expanding the program's offerings. The introduction of the Studio Store Visualizer Prime creates a virtual storefront so students can see how their creations would look in a commercial setting.
“We have a solid reputation for preparing graduates for the industrial side of the packaging industry, which will continue to be our focus; however, we have more students interested in learning the aesthetic side of the profession,” said Brian James, instructor in ISU’s packaging engineering technology program. “The ability to expand our curriculum and access to students through Esko’s partnership is critical to our program.
“For students to learn the same software leading the packaging industry is giving our students a distinct advantage for job and internship placement.”
Pam Zarazee, Vice President of Elkhart, Indiana-based Welch Packaging, said ISU students are well prepared for the profession. The company operates 15 box manufacturing plants and three distribution facilities in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
“We have had a great experience in working with graduates of Indiana State University,” Zarazee said. “They have impacted the business in many different ways such as leading in our operations, design, customer service, general management, and at the corporate level.”
Several ISU packaging engineering technology students have accepted positions with the company following their May 2021 graduation, including senior, Cole Weathers, who will begin Welch’s Early Career Talent program in June.
“My education provided the opportunity for me to work with Esko software products,” Weathers said. “These have been invaluable to preparing me to be an effective corrugated designer, learning how to create manufacturing and palletization layouts that will be effective for production at corrugated plants.
“I am very excited for this career opportunity at Welch because I will be able to experience how their entire business functions from the ground up. My education and experience in ISU’s packaging lab has made me a good fit for this role.”
Photo Caption: Pictured is Indiana State University senior packaging engineering technology major Cole Weathers. Weathers credits his hands-on learning experiences with Esko software in the classroom and in ISU’s Packaging Lab for helping him secure a position with Welch Packaging, based in Elkhart, Ind., upon graduation in May.