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Champions: Mask-moisturizer nets national honor

Sophomore packaging majors win Student Flexible DesignPhotos attached

MENOMONIE, Wis. (April 16, 2019) – A flexible packaging concept has two University of Wisconsin-Stout students saying hello to a national award.

Hello Hydration, a triangular-shaped package that contains a facial mask on one side and a moisturizer on the other, was the idea of sophomore packaging majors Maria Brownell of Eau Claire and Melea Bruns of Elk River, Minn. In March, the two received first-place honors from the Flexible Packaging Association when they won the Student Flexible Design Challenge. They each received $500 and a commemorative plaque.

The competition recognized innovative packaging and encourages and recognizes students working to become the next generation of packaging designs, according to a news release from the Flexible Packaging Association. The competition drew 42 concept outlines from some of the top packaging design programs across the United States. From those concepts, 18 were selected to continue to the development stage.

“This year’s entries demonstrated a high level of creativity as well as a strong understanding of the mechanical properties of flexible packaging materials and the manufacturing processes involved,” stated Dani Diehlmann, director of communications for the Flexible Packaging Association, in a news release. “While every winning entry was designed for a different product, they each found an ingenious way to apply flexible packaging to satisfy the growing consumer demand for convenient, easy-to-use packaging.”

Bruns and Brownell picked a project based on products they use and understand. “We decided we should do a project that fit our personalities,” Bruns said.

With a facial mask the next step is to moisturize, Bruns noted. Combining the products makes it more convenient for consumers. Also, the packaging would contain enough product for three to six uses, meaning less waste for consumers, because Hello Hydration reseals with a cap. Traditional facial products are single-use packages. Less waste also means less packaging going to landfills. The two products can be separated if one is emptied first.
“I think we were looking for something unique that stood out and the packaging would support itself and look different,” Brownell said, explaining why they decided to have a triangular package.

Creating the packaging took time because they ended up using an old metal iron to seal the sides of their prototype, which was made from multilayer plastic film with a gusset to make it stand up. The project was part of a consumer packaging class taught in the fall by Gary Borges.

The two credit Borges’ industry experience in flexible packaging for mentoring them and helping them excel with the project.

Borges, of Minneapolis, a retired national account technical manager from Printpack’s Minneapolis office, said he was excited that Brownell and Bruns were recognized nationally.

“They showed very good imagination and innovation,” he said. “They were very good at putting the concept together. They made the pouch. They created the graphics. I’m pretty proud of them and what they were able to do. It shows me the talent that exists at UW-Stout.”

“We really were surprised we won,” Brownell said. “A lot of people in our class have had co-ops, and we didn’t have the industry experience they do.”

The two will have paid co-ops this summer and through the fall semester. Brownell will be a packaging intern at 3M in Maplewood, Minn. Bruns will be a packaging intern at Hills Pet Nutrition in Topeka, Kan.

John Scheffler, UW-Stout associate professor of packaging, also is proud of Bruns and Brownell. “We encourage students to enter these contests to learn,” he noted. “For them to win a national award is just superior.”
Second place went to Tanay Prabhu of San Jose State University in California. She designed car wash pods to be added to a five-gallon pail of water.

Flexible packaging is used in a variety of industries, such as retail food, medical and pharmaceutical.
The challenge for students is to develop a solution that addresses a packaging issue, such as consumer convenience or the protection of food. The package should advance the use of flexible packaging; make an improvement over an existing flexible package; convert a nonflexible package into a flexible package; or package a product that is not available in flexible packaging.

UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.


Packaging majors Maria Brownell, left, and Melea Bruns of UW-Stout took first place in a national design contest sponsored by the Flexible Packaging Association.

The first-place Hello Hydration package designed by Maria Brownell and Melea Bruns of UW-Stout contains a facial mask and moisturizer.

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