Purdue’s Andrew Smith,(l-r) Serena Pu of California Polytechnic State University, Anna Troutt of Virginia Tech were presented the winning check by an Emerson Electric representative

Purdue package engineering student leads winning team at Pack Expo

Contributed By:The 411 News

20 companies gave Andrew Smith job offers upon graduation

Andrew Smith, a mechatronics engineering technology student at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), was part of a three student team that won the 2021 Amazing Packaging Race at the annual Pack Expo trade show in Las Vegas.

Smith, a fourth-year student at PNW, along with teammates Anna Troutt of Virginia Tech and Serena Pu of California Polytechnic State University, were able to complete a series of challenges across four exhibit halls to win the $3,000 prize.

“My teammates and I were really excited when our team was announced as the winners,” said Smith, who personally took home $1,000 in prize money. “The way we scored points throughout the race was by posting every single task we completed to Twitter. We would take a picture with the company and post it along with a thank you message – which scored us extra points.”

The Griffith native acted as the team leader, organizing the team, studying the instructions and ensuring they stayed within the rules, eventually leading the team to victory.

The competition required competing teams to search the exhibit halls to find the ten booths that had specific tasks to be completed by each team. Tasks included completing math problems related to packaging, executing functionality of a company’s machine or learning about a company’s machines and services and then answering related questions.

“We try to close the gap between education and the working environment,” said Maged Mikhail, associate professor of mechatronics engineering technology at PNW. “Connecting our students to industry by having them attend the Pack Expo and participate in the competition shows them they are capable of solving manufacturing and packaging problems.”

The mechatronics engineering technology program at PNW is a hybrid degree program that combines both mechanical and electrical engineering technology with computer science. “Having strong industry partnerships enable our students to work with state-of-the-art equipment and gain a greater understanding of emerging technologies within the packaging and processing industries. This makes them highly sought after and employable,” Mikhail said.

Mikhail credits the Pack Expo with being a main source of recruitment for PNW mechatronics engineering technology students.

“I had approximately 20 different companies hand me business cards and ask me to call them after graduation saying they had a job ready for me,” Smith said.

The Pack Expo is an annual trade show that connects consumer goods companies with manufacturing solutions in packaging and processing. This year’s show featured 1,500 exhibitors with 23,000 attendees. The Amazing Packaging Race is an annual competition for university students attending the trade show.

Story Posted:11/15/2021

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