Creating a new type of cereal box and a stand-up coffee pouch garnered two UW-Stout packaging students second places in a national design contest.
Seniors Ryan Knudtson, 28, of Strum, and Benjamin Huber, 22, of Rochester, Minn., tied for second in the Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge. Knudtson designed the cereal box and Huber the coffee container.
The polymer fiber cereal box does not require the traditional film bag and cardboard box, Knudtson explained. “It has a sealed top and bottom and still stands up like a traditional box. The problem I was trying to solve was to limit the materials used and still provide the same benefits. The traditional cereal box is an old style of packaging. I’m surprised it hasn’t changed.”
The plastic box, recyclable, keeps the cereal fresh and makes it easier to pour.
“It is using less material, so the weight is lower to aid in transportation costs,” Knudtson said, noting that it can be stacked, is good for graphics and is easy to dispense.
Huber’s stand-up coffee pouch has a self-measuring plastic side panel. He said people tend to use drip coffee at cottages or cabins and a pod-style coffee machine at home.
“I was trying to figure out how I could integrate a measuring style to make it more convenient,” Huber said. The packaging prevents oils from the coffee beans from being exposed to the air, keeping the coffee fresher longer.
The biggest influence on his design was the Act mouthwash bottle that squeezed a portion of the product into a canister for use, Huber said.
Huber said his design would cost more to produce than a traditional pouch and measuring scoop. However, the flexible design takes less space.
Huber and Knudtson each received $500 and a plaque.
Robert Meisner, UW-Stout packaging program director, said he was very proud of the students’ accomplishments. “It took a significant amount of effort and drive on their part to fulfill the entry requirements for the contest,” Meisner said. “Being recognized or selected in any design contest is a tremendous accomplishment because it is validation from industry that the ideas are creative and have real promise for future applications.
“The university and program benefit as well,” Meisner said of the awards. “Student winners show the world that UW-Stout packaging has great students and a program that helps develop the future packaging professionals.”
The Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge has become a prestigious competition within the industry, he said. Flexible packaging is used with a variety of items, such as food, medical and pharmaceutical products.
Students were challenged to develop a package that addresses an issue, such as consumer convenience or protection of food.
Last year, Huber was on a UW-Stout team that took first place with wet wipes on wheels; Knudtson was on a team that took second with a single-serve microwavable hot dog package.
UW-Stout is the only school in the UW System and one of only a few in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in packaging, www.uwstout.edu/programs/bs-packaging.
Ryan Knudtson and his cereal packaging design
Benjamin Huber and his stand-up coffee pouch design