Last week, I, along with some of my Specright colleagues, joined the MSU Packaging community to celebrate the official ribbon cutting for the School of Packaging building renovation.
The audience was packed with over two hundred industry leaders, students and faculty, alumni, and donors gathered to celebrate the beautiful new facility aimed at enabling the next generation of packaging professionals to transform industry.
It was an electric atmosphere, full of people who care deeply about the students, the packaging school and the industry. As a recent college graduate and young professional myself, I was overwhelmed to see the amazing outcomes that are possible when academia and industry come together on common goals.
The Importance of Academia and Industry Partnerships
Matt Daum, Packaging School Director and Assistant Dean for Michigan State University, spoke to the standing-room-only crowd about the importance of partnerships. He encouraged everyone in the room to continue engaging and partnering with the school to push the boundaries of what academia and industry can accomplish when working together.
Interim MSU President Theresa Woodruff recalled a famous quote from poet, Wallace Stevens. She said, “‘Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.’” A resounding sentiment, especially when standing in the brand new packaging school atrium among the people that made the renovation possible.
The ceremony wrapped up a year-long project to completely renovate the School of Packaging building, with more than $10 million in funding. The students now have access to a new multi-purpose lecture hall, open communal spaces, a new graduate student lounge, executive conference room, and upgraded computer lab, sponsored by Specright.
I talked to many current students during my visit to MSU, and there was one common theme throughout every conversation.
The students are energized.
With brand new classrooms, study nooks, and upgraded technology, the opportunities to not only study, but also connect and collaborate with fellow students, are endless. These types of enhancements are also preparing students for life beyond college.
One student said she is spending way more time in the building than before the renovation. Another mentioned he now finds excuses to do homework in-person as opposed to from home, because he is more productive and enjoys being in the space.
Daum shared with us that he intends for the space to help build a more connected cohort of packaging students. With around 600 enrolled students yearly, it was important to him to create a unique and welcoming environment for students.
Starting with their building.
According to Daum, the Michigan State University School of Packaging currently graduates 40% of all packaging professionals in the United States, so student retention is not only vital to the School of Packaging, but also the entire packaging industry.
Specright and MSU: Bringing Industry to Students
The partnership with the MSU School of Packaging started over three years ago with an idea of sharing Specright’s patented Specification Data Management™ software with students in the classroom.
This allows students to gain exposure to industry-grade technology, and educate the next generation workforce on the importance of specification data management in everything related to products and packaging.
Thanks to the support of teachers such as Ron Iwaszkiewicz, Patrick McDavid, and director Matt Daum, Specright and the School of Packaging have grown this partnership to bring industry to the students, and students into the industry.
Specright’s Specification Data Management™ platform is now used in four course curriculums across the packaging school, and Daum says there are plans for even more in the future.
The New Specright Computer Lab at MSU
In late 2022, Specright made a $500,000 commitment to the MSU School of Packaging to help with faculty growth, and to renovate their computer lab, which was in desperate need of an upgrade.
I was asked to reimagine and redesign the computer lab, with the goal of providing a modernized space that would encourage learning. We wanted to make the room feel high-tech, and become a place that students would look forward to spending time in.
I did a site visit in late October to get room measurements, take lots of photos, and work with the faculty and staff to determine what would improve this room the most for students.
With total creative freedom, feedback from MSU professors and students, and a lot of classroom measurements, I got to work.
I spoke to MSU professors about how the room was typically used and pain points they had around teaching in the space, as well as an architect who provided insights about room layouts and structural elements I should take into consideration.
I also did some research about the psychology of classroom design. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of articles written on optimized classroom setups, layouts, and even wall colors and decor, to determine what kinds of spaces students learn best in. Who knew!?
Combining my research, design background, and a splash of Specright branding, I developed a brand new concept for the computer lab. Fast forward seven months, and it was almost surreal to be standing in the new Specright computer lab – ready to be used by packaging students for generations to come.
Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm from students at the ribbon cutting was the most rewarding part of this project. It’s not everyday that I get to see my work come to life right in front of me, and the direct impact it will have on students for years to come.
If you’re interested in learning more about Matt Daum’s vision for academia and industry, listen to his presentation from our 2023 Specification Management Summit.
For more about Specright’s commitment to academia, click here. For more information on the ribbon cutting ceremony and the School of Packaging renovation, click here.
Want to see more photos from the ribbon cutting? Here you go!