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The history of our packaging program began with the planning and construction of the Pallet Lab on the campus of Virginia Tech. The William H. Sardo Jr. Pallet and Container Research Laboratory (Pallet Lab) was officially dedicated on October 28, 1976 in the presence of more than 200 guests.
    Unit Load
In 1977, Dr. John Hosner, then director of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Resources at Virginia Tech, addressed the 30th annual meeting of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) in Marco Island, Florida where the decision was made to construct the first phase of the planned forest products research and extension center (which contains the Pallet Lab) in collaboration with NWPCA. The extension center was officially named the T. M. Brooks Forest Products Center and was the first building complex to be part of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

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.

Featured Courses

Principles of Packaging (Fall)

SBIO 2104  No Prerequisites

Principles of Packaging is an easy and fun way to learn about the third largest industry. The class includes industry presentations, hands-on projects, and plant tours.

Computer-Aided Design in Packaging (Spring)

SBIO 2004 (19563) No Prerequisites

During the class, we are using state-of-the-art packaging design software suites including ESKO ArtiosCAD, ESKO Studio Suite, and CAPE to develop package designs using an integrated systems based approach.


Contact Us

Phone: (540) 231-7107
Fax: (540) 231-8868

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