This week we are sending off our Packaging Engineering Intern, Matt Harmon. We first met Matt at the MSU Packaging Career Fair in October of 2019. While many of his friends and fellow classmate’s internship opportunities deferred to solely virtual due to COVID, Matt had the opportunity to work on-site for the duration of his internship. He has learned how to perform necessary packaging validations per ISO 11607 as well as work on client projects, including one related to COVID.
Matt has been an excellent addition to the team these last 6 months, and we will miss him! Read below to learn a little bit more about Matt and what nice things he has to say about his time interning at PCL!
What inspired you to pursue a career in medical device packaging engineering?
Starting out my college career, I knew I wanted to choose a major that could put my problem-solving skills to the test. While researching potential career choices, I heard from my cousin about a fun, niche degree program called a Bachelor of Science in Packaging, offered by Michigan State University. I took a closer look at the opportunities this unique industry offers and immediately fell in love with it.
I began my freshman year as a packaging major, unsure of exactly where it might take me.
I had become heavily involved in CoPPAC, the student-led packaging organization at MSU. Dozens of companies and packaging professionals would come to our club to talk and present to us about what made their company stick out from the rest. After hearing from so many professionals in the medical packaging industry, I realized that this is an industry where everyone has a chance to change peoples’ lives for the better.
My junior year arrived, and I knew there was a career fair coming up. I knew that I had to secure an internship before I graduate and decided to attend. There, I saw many familiar faces of people from companies and industries that I was interested in. I talked to representatives from companies like Stryker, Oliver Healthcare, Smucker’s, Kellogg’s, and even a small company from the medical packaging industry called Packaging Compliance Labs. After having a great discussion with them, I had been given an offer for a 6-month internship to gain the real-world work experience I’d always desired.
I have loved my time at PCL, and I have already seen my hard work have an impact on the world. One of the first projects I got to work on was validation work for a medical device-related to COVID.
I find it to be so rewarding knowing that the work I get to do in this sector of the packaging industry has a great impact on the world and that I am able to do my part in helping end this pandemic. My experiences so far have inspired me to work harder and learn more about this incredible industry.
What is your philosophy on packaging?
When I tell people that I am a packaging student, it is common for them to ask me “So that’s the study cardboard boxes, right?”. I always tell them that packaging is so much more than that. Packaging is not just boxes and cartons: it is the hidden backbone that keeps us safe, keeps us informed, and keeps our economy strong.
When I think about my philosophy on packaging, I like taking a logical, yet creative approach. Packaging must put the end user’s safety first and foremost. Think about a doctor’s office and all the products you may encounter there. Each has its own packaging, and each has its own story. Whether it is Band-Aids manufactured in Brazil or syringes imported from Germany, every single one has been subjected to several different harsh, rugged, and challenging climates. Packaging is your superhero that stands between those fragile products and the outside world. It is the tool that we use to keep your product safe from impacts, drops, vibration, and even protect it from more subtle dangers such as temperature and humidity.
But safety is not our only concern. Once we have our product, how do we know how to use it? Packaging is the answer. Packaging allows us to communicate critically important information to the consumer. Expiration dates, directions for use, QR codes, and more. These are just some of the technologies packaging engineers use to engage directly with our customers and keep them informed.
With all that goes into packaging, it is no secret that sustainability, logistics, and cost are all huge factors too. By designing efficient and effective packaging, we can not only reduce costs and create more affordable packages without reducing the safety features we employ but also deliver a great experience for our end-user. Just like me, you may be thinking “there are so many different factors that go into creating packaging!”, and you are correct. Achieving harmony between all the factors used to make a great package can be a tough challenge. This is where you and I step in. As packaging engineers, we are the people that ensure that our packages deliver a safe product to the consumer, keep the consumer informed, and keep our economy running strong.