NJPEC Scholarship Winner Ryan Bieth, Interviewed by NJPEC Board Member Matt Cassano
MC: Introduce yourself. Where did you go to school? What was your major? What are you doing now?
RB: My name is Ryan Bieth. I graduated in 2020 from Michigan State, School of Packaging with a BS in Packaging Science. In October 2020, I was fortunate to receive a contract position through Modis with orthopedics products manufacturer, Zimmer Biomet. My contract has since been extended and I am still there today.
MC: How did you first hear about NJPEC and our scholarships opportunities?
RB: Michigan State does a great job of connecting students with scholarship opportunities and so the program advisors within the School of Packaging urged us to stay open to any and all opportunities. The NJPEC scholarship came up, so I knew I needed to look into it.
MC: Can you tell us about the time in your life when you realized you wanted to be in packaging?
RB: To be honest, I didn’t even know packaging science was a “thing” let alone the prospect of becoming a packaging engineer. But I heard about the program through a friend of the family and after a few conversations, I was intrigued. I already knew I was good at math and science so that was a pretty solid foundation. After taking Packaging 101, I was almost hooked. Then, after my 2nd class, which was an Intro to Packaging Design, I was sold.
MC: What courses at State were your favorite? And what course(s) best prepared you for your current role?
RB: I would say, without a doubt, the Capstone design project at the end of my senior year was both my favorite and the one that prepared me the most for my current role. Unfortunately, the prototyping portion of the project got cut short due to Covid restrictions and so we were left to present via Zoom to our professors instead of the traditional plan to present in-person to the brands for which we were designing prototypes. But what I liked most was that project management was the focus from beginning to end.
Also, worth noting is that the Packaging Sustainability class was one of my favorites. To see how making a slight material change can impact the environment was really eye opening.
MC: What do you think will be the most important aspect of packaging to consider as we start coming out of COVID? How do you think packaging has / will change as the world transitions?
RB: Moving forward there will be continue to be an evolving emphasis on improving packaging sustainability, both from a design, sourcing and end-of-life perspective. More brands are seeing the value of reducing plastic, reducing waste.
MC: Now that you are on the other side…do you have any advice to students currently studying Package Engineering?
RB: Yes, do as many internships as you can. Once you have that initial experience, you gain confidence. As opposed to classroom curriculum where you learn ‘a little about a lot,’ the internships you participate enable you to hone in and learn ‘a lot about a little’ so to speak.
MC: Anything additional you would like to add?
RB: The packaging industry, specifically packaging design, is a great place to be right now. There are jobs everywhere and whether you’re working in the food space, consumer products or pharmaceutical industry, you can do a lot of good as a packaging engineer.
MC: Is there a dream job that exists in packaging for you?
RB: Dream job? I don’t think so. As long as I’m happy and I like what I’m doing, working with people I like working with, then I believe I’m working my dream job.
MC: Great. Let’s end with that. Thanks for your time and for sharing where you’re at now with the NJPEC community.