Dr. George Stern was appointed the first director of the Pallet Lab and established priorities for research projects. Even after his retirement, Dr. Stern remained active at the laboratory. In his final years, he was instrumental in the design and construction of the Pallets Move the World sculpture now at the entrance to the Brooks Center. At the dedication of this sculpture, brass plaques were unveiled which honored: Thomas Depew (Past President of NWPCA); Dr. Walt Wallin (Research Scientist with the USDA Forest Service, and creator of an early computerized pallet design program); Bill Sardo (the founder and longtime chief executive of NWPCA); and Dr. Stern himself.
Dr. Marshall White was named the second director of the Pallet Lab. Upon his retirement from Virginia Tech a few years ago, a plaque in honor of this gifted member of the faculty was added to the Pallets Move the World sculpture.
Dr. White was also the first director of the Center for Unit Load Design, also located at the T. M. Brooks Forest Products Center. While director, Dr. White developed a vision for a expanding the program beyond the traditional strength of pallet and container design. This vision, conceptualized as the Center for Unit Load Design, involved a holistic approach to systems based design that considered interactions among primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging as well as the distribution and storage conditions. He also outlined a curriculum that would prepare students to work in expanded roles within the world of packaging. This vision ultimately lead to the offering of a Packaging Science option within the Wood Science and Forest Products degree program.
In 2011, the program continued its evolution by expanding to incorporate food and pharmaceutical packaging, packaging marketing and management, and developing new curriculum to better prepare students for a diverse range of packaging careers.