University of Florida Offers Packaging Engineering Program

FlexPack VOICE® profiles colleges, universities, and schools that have developed programs to train people for work in the packaging industry. In 2019, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) began working with industry stakeholders, the Consortium for Waste Circularity, and the Packaging Engineering Program at the University of Florida (UF) to explore robust gasification testing.

Tests have shown that multi-layer materials, metalized films, cross-linked photopolymer flexographic plates, and other materials could be successfully converted to synthesis gas (syngas), according to Bruce Welt, Ph.D., who is a professor in the program. Syngas can be converted to Eco-Methanol™, which the consortium sees as the key for the packaging industry to achieve circularity for carbon-based packaging waste.

“Since methanol is a primary feedstock chemical for subsequent manufacture of many products and plastics, Eco-Methanol represents an opportunity to boost recovery of waste, as well as ‘recycled content’ in products and packaging,” the consortium says, adding that it refers to this circular process as “Regenerative Robust Gasification.”

Here is a closer look at the packaging engineering program at UF. The program is part of the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

About the Program

The coursework includes design, engineering, and innovation for students in the biological engineering major who choose to specialize in packaging engineering. “Whether it’s bagged, boxed, or wrapped, virtually every modern industry relies on packaging engineering and technology to contain, protect, preserve, or enhance the value of its goods as they hustle from factory to customer,” according to the school’s website at “Unique package designs and decoration entice customers to buy new products. Packaging materials and new technologies help preserve freshness and provide protection from damage and tampering.”


Students in the biological engineering major concentrate electives in a specific set of packaging courses including consumer packaging, food packaging, distribution and transport, and computer tools in packaging. Students get a foundation in engineering design and the pure sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, and math, Welt says, adding that the students learn about new technologies and methods in packaging design and production.

Minor Program

Open to all students, the packaging science minor is designed to prepare students for careers closely associated with packaging. The courses tackle challenges facing packaging industries, including package decoration, distribution and transport, and computer tools for packaging.


A certificate program provides a path to packaging for students of UF’s College of Engineering. Packaging engineering certificate students supplement their traditional engineering disciplines with packaging engineering content. In addition to biological engineering students, Packaging Engineering Program courses typically attract students from chemical engineering, material science and engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial engineering programs. The certificate is the packaging program’s “secret sauce,” Welt says.

Students get a foundation in engineering design and the pure sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, and math.

“Admission to UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering is very competitive, so these students are already top-notch,” Welt says. “Whether packaging industry stakeholders are seeking interns, co-ops, or graduates interested in automation, machine design, materials development, sustainability, supply chain, etc., we have ABET accredited engineers with a demonstrated interest in a career in packaging.”


Students often participate in paid internships and graduates work at top companies, with starting salaries averaging more than $70,000 per year, according to the website.