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Cougars & Mustangs 

One doesn’t often get to speak about Cal Poly and Star Wars in the same breath without having to seriously force a joke. Get it? Force? Thanks to a talented team of Cal Poly students taking first place at the Paperboard Packaging Alliance (PPA) Student Design Challenge at the end of last month, however, such an opportunity—much like an X-Wing once submerged in a swamp—has finally arisen. 

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The Las Vegas event tests a team’s design skills based upon innovative structural and graphic design, functionality, quality of the completed prototype, and of course, the response to the competition scenario. This year’s scenario involved the task of designing a limited-edition, innovative toy packaging that could be reused as an interactive structure with the toy itself. The team’s students, Alyssa Harben and Griffin Meinken of business administration, Michael Udinski of economics, and Austin Turner of industrial technology, devised a clever packaging for the Star Wars franchise. 

The slick little containers for individual Jedi characters from the series are not only easy for children to open themselves, but can be unfurled into a light saber toy of their own, corresponding to said character. Their presentation considered price point and efficient material usage as well as reaching their target audience, netting them the victory out of 52 other entries. The team earned $5,000 for themselves and another $5,000 donation to Cal Poly’s Packaging Program for the purpose of improving student labs. 

It’s definitely worth adding: Another Cal Poly team that entered the competition received honorable mention for their packaging for a Lego Movie board game. Those interested in more information about this competition, perhaps hoping to enter it themselves one day, should visit paperboardpackaging.org as well as note that the Cal Poly students of this competition developed their projects as part of IT 408: a paper and paperboard packaging course taught by Javier de la Fuente, an assistant professor of packaging. Curious readers can glimpse slides from the winning team’s presentation, which includes photos of initial concepts, the beginning of construction of the prototype, and even the prototype itself (or at least the photo of it) on Cal Poly’s website. It’s great fun hearing of the awesome things your fellow students have been up to, eh? Perhaps you should finally get working on that idea you have too!

Contributor Chris White-Sanborn isn’t allowed to make Star Wars jokes now that her manager decided to BANTHA practice of pun making. Offer your good riddances, and of course your collegiate news, to cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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