CLEMSON — Clemson University students will work with cutting-edge design equipment, software and tools for years to come, thanks to Esko (www.esko.com), a global supplier of integrated solutions for the packaging, labels, sign and display industries with worldwide headquarters in Ghent, Belgium and Americas operations based in Miamisburg, Ohio.

The company has given Clemson University’s Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics equipment, maintenance and software valued at $26,703,750 over a five-year period.

Clemson University student Mengmeng Zhao, a third-year doctoral student in packaging science from Tianjin, China, uses a computerized sample cutting table in the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics that was funded by Esko Inc.

Clemson University student Mengmeng Zhao, a third-year doctoral student in packaging science from Tianjin, China, uses a computerized sample cutting table in the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics that was funded by Esko Inc.
Image Credit: Ken Scar / Clemson University

“Esko has been a great partner with the Sonoco Institute for nearly a decade, and this latest gift will be instrumental in Clemson’s ongoing efforts to remain at the leading edge of research into packaging technologies,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. “Esko’s equipment and software allow our packaging design students to leave Clemson proficient in industry-standard tools and technologies, and we are extremely grateful for our wonderful partnership with this outstanding company.”

The Sonoco Institute is the only university program in the country with a multidisciplinary approach to packaging as a core competency. Esko has been a partner of the Clemson institute since 2008, and the curriculum is built around the company’s equipment and software.

“Esko values the Clemson relationship largely because of the amount of value the printing and packaging industry places on Clemson as a resource for talent and innovation,” said Larry Moore, Esko’s vice president of partner programs in North America.

The partnership has greatly benefited Clemson students and consequently the manufacturing industry, said Chip Tonkin, director of the Sonoco Institute and Clemson’s graphic communications department chair.

“Our Esko relationship is a world-class example of an industry-academic partnership that leverages real world tools and relevant challenges to engage and inspire our students in ways that feed the talent pipeline that our entire manufacturing industry desperately needs,” said Tonkin.

Clemson University students learn how use Esko Inc. graphics software to design packaging at the Sonoco Institute for Packaging Design and Graphics.

Clemson University students learn how use Esko Inc. graphics software to design packaging at the Sonoco Institute for Packaging Design and Graphics.
Image Credit: Ken Scar / Clemson University

Bobby Congdon, assistant director of the Sonoco Institute, noted that the skills to operate the machines provided by Esko will be essential to graduates entering today’s work force, but the software and hardware provided in the gift is also very valuable.

“A lot of Esko software and hardware is integral to this building,” said Congdon. “We teach a lot of their software in the classes, and we use a lot of the hardware for package design prototyping and the printing we do. It’s the professional grade industry standard.”

The Sonoco Institute for Packaging Design and Graphics is located in the Harris A. Smith Building at Clemson. The institute serves as a hub of technology collaboration bringing faculty and students together.

The concept of collaboration focused on packaging-industry projects was developed by the departments of packaging science and graphic communications. The institute focuses on designing environmentally sustainable packages; developing electronic films that can be printed on packages to create displays, track shipments or apply environmental or biological sensors; testing package design impact on consumer attention, buying patterns, use and disposal in its consumer experience lab; and integrating the multiple steps in package design and construction into a single workflow.

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