Multimillion-Dollar Esko Gift Supports ISU Package Engineering Students

The ISU program teaches what students need to know in the real world of packaging

Esko logo

Indiana State University receives a multimillion-dollar in-kind gift of package engineering technology software from Esko, a developer of integrated software and hardware solutions for the packaging industry. This partnership continues the company’s two decades of support for the program and promotes a skilled workforce.

For the next three years, Esko will provide 50 software licenses to industry-leading programs.

“We’re grateful for Esko’s generous and long-running support for our packaging engineering technology program,” ISU’s president Deborah J. Curtis says. “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 senior director of inside sales and marketing, says 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 explains. “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. The partnership expansion includes a cloud-based version of Esko software, allowing students to work on classroom projects in a remote setting. Additionally, the College of Technology Packaging Engineering Lab is equipped with the software, allowing students to transition projects to the production stage.

ISU’s program has a 100% placement rate into jobs after graduation. It teaches what students need to know in the real world of packaging, says 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 says.

“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,” adds 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.”

Pam Zarazee, VP of Elkhart, Indiana-based Welch Packaging, says 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 adds. “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.”

Cole Weathers
Indiana State University senior packaging engineering technology major Cole Weathers. Weathers credits his hands-on learning experiences with Esko software in the classroom and ISU’s Packaging Lab for helping him secure a position with Welch Packaging. (Image courtesy Esko)

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 says. “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.”


Alexandria Bruce

Allee Bruce is the managing editor of GRAPHICS PRO and WRAPS magazines.

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