During the COVID-19 pandemic, like many of us, universities had to adapt to a more virtual world. But when it comes to online learning, keeping students engaged on portals and video calls proved to be quite the challenge. Professors were forced to re-think their in-person lecture content and transition to virtual channels where students could still learn and stay engaged, but from the comfort of their homes. It was during this same time that packaging professors across the country started agreeing that data management was a gap in their current curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate programs. The concept of good data stored in software was something that students were not getting to experience first hand before going to work in industry.
Adapting Curriculum During the COVID-19 Pandemic
To solve these challenges, Specright partnered with top packaging programs in the U.S. to provide Specification Management software to both students and professors. By incorporating Specright into coursework, universities have introduced industry standards and best practices surrounding specifications to their students. Specright is a cloud-based platform, making it easy to deploy, teach, and use in the classroom — especially in virtual settings like during the COVID-19 pandemic. By learning how to use the latest software, Specright is helping equip the next generation of packaging professionals with the tools they need to develop more sustainable and cost-effective packaging, while meeting today’s speed-to-market expectations. For companies, it means there is new talent coming right out of college with true hands-on experience for managing specifications. We’re proud to say Specright’s academia program has grown over the past three years to support seven universities in 10-14 courses per semester.
Specright Launches Academia Advisory Board
As part of our commitment to academia and the next generation workforce, we recently launched a new initiative --Specright’s Academia Advisory Board. The goal of the Advisory Board is to bring great academic minds together to continue finding new ways to support the next generation of packaging engineers. The Packaging Council, another board focused on improving packaging curriculums across the nation, has identified “Specification Data Management” as a gap in packaging program curriculum. We’ll be introducing our Academia Advisory Board members on our LinkedIn page in the upcoming weeks, and we look forward to you getting to know them.
Members of the advisory board will also be attending the first Specification Management Summit in January 2022. During the event, board members will be presenting on the topic: “What We’re Teaching the Next Gen Workforce - and How to Recruit Talent.” Professors and Placement Coordinators on the board will share how they utilize industry technology in their classrooms and what drives a student’s interest in a company post-grad. A student from each university will also be in attendance to share their experiences with Specright and how they see the industry changing as a “digital native”.
Supporting Packaging Engineers of the Future
UW Stout was the first university to adopt and integrate Specright into their Packaging Program Curriculum. Robert Meisner, Program Director of the B.S. Packaging, saw the value of integrating a specification management system into his capstone course. During the 16-week senior capstone project, he matches student groups with industry partners to solve real packaging issues. The biggest takeaways UW Stout students have shared with us is that:
- Specification Management software is a collaborative environment,
- Specification Management software helps organize and develop BOMs, and
- Specs are the foundation of packaging.
Along with supporting classrooms with technology, Specright has also started an annual packaging scholarship for packaging students, like Nancy Lei. Nancy Lei is a Master’s student at Rutgers University who had a co-op during 2021 for one of Specright’s Cosmetic and Beauty customers. Pulling from her direct experience with Specright's Specification Management platform she was able to articulate the main problems that a spec system solves for the company and how Specright can empower sustainability goals to be met. In her scholarship application, Lei described how she was part of a project that aimed to “remove inner liners from one of our product programs. After the successful testing and transition to less packaging/inner liner in the carton, we pulled the data on ALL our product SKUs that utilized this same type of packaging. The data showed us that by switching over to less secondary packaging on all these SKUs we pulled, we would save the company a significant amount of money annually. Thus began a year-long project to help reduce excess.”
Employing Packaging Engineers
Another way we are supporting the next generation of packaging engineers, along with our customers is with the Spec Squad. Specright has partnered with Dazmii to start the Spec Squad in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spec Squad will be a team of Michigan State University Packaging undergraduate and graduate students who are looking for employment during their education. This team will work to digitize legacy paper and pdf specs for Specright’s customer base--a process which can be both expensive and very time consuming. By creating new jobs for university students, it will allow them to get real-world exposure to specifications across industries, have a part-time job during their education, and network with potential employers. This team launched in November 2021 and will only look to expand in 2022.
Consumer Demand for a Spec-First Approach
Now, more than ever, consumers are demanding more of packaging – and with Specright, students are learning how to take a data-driven “spec-first” approach to packaging design and development. Given the importance of packaging, it’s essential to us to help future generations of professionals grow so they can drive the next wave of packaging innovation.These students are digital natives and expect technology to be a critical part of packaging development. I’m excited to see how, with the help of technology, these students transform how amazing things are made.To learn more about using Specright in your classroom or Alma mater, contact Danielle Goad at firstname.lastname@example.org.