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Packaging Systems and Design

What is Packaging?

To accurately understand the field of packaging, we need to recognize that packaging is everywhere. Packaging is ubiquitous in our daily life, but we often do not think about it because we are usually more interested in the product that is inside. If we look at grocery stores, every single item that is sold is in some kind of packaging. Some grocery store packages are designed to consolidate products, while some are designed to keep them fresh and long-lasting, and others are designed to be attractive so the consumer will pick them up from the shelves. If we look at electronic stores, most products sold are not designed to survive the hazards that can occur during transportation.

Thus, packaging with protective abilities is essential to make sure that these products do not get damaged on their way to the customer. No one wants to receive a new computer with a broken monitor. There is also the entire industrial packaging sector that most consumers never get the chance to see. For example, when Ford builds a new F-150 truck, there are thousands of parts needed to build it, and these parts need to be transported throughout the whole world, using extensive supply chains. All of these parts are shipped in industrial packaging solutions that can be as simple as a corrugated shipping box or as elaborate as a custom-designed metal rack for car windshields.

As a professional in the field of packaging, you will commonly make data-driven decisions regarding things such as the most sustainable material for an application, optimal packaging dimensions, protective packaging needs, and many others. To further explore why packaging is essential in the marketplace, we can examine different aspects of the packaging design process.

The Packaging System and Design degree

The B.S. in Packaging Systems and Design degree offered in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials is the intersection of design, science, engineering, and business. Our students learn to design packaging solutions that are attractive to the customer, effectively protect and preserve the product, and have a low environmental impact. Hands-on and industry-sponsored design projects are built into most packaging classes to tie their curriculums to the real world.

Our program is the only one in the U.S. that has infused sustainability into every part of the curriculum. The field of sustainable packaging has been exponentially expanding in recent years, and our students are learning how to develop curbside recyclable packaging solutions completely made of natural and sustainable materials.

Career Options

The packaging program has a 95% employment rate and students often receive signed job offers a year before graduation. Major companies that hire our students include: Newell, Tesla, Amazon, Northrop Grumman, Packaging Corporations of America, Cannon, L’Oreal, and Pepsi Co, among many other companies.

Students receive on average a starting salary of $60,000-$65,000.

Positions include:

  • Global Packaging Specialist
  • Packaging Engineer
  • Packaging Research Scientist
  • Packaging Sales

Visit our College Major Website for more information on the degree program and the packaging industry.


For prospective undergraduate students

John Gray Williams

138 Cheatham Hall

For current Virginia Tech students

Dana McGuire

138 Cheatham Hall

For all others

Ching Huang

230 Cheatham Hall