Smithers Pira joins MSU’s School of Packaging professional development course

Technical Director Michael Kuebler is returning to his roots.

A graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Packaging, Kuebler is one of 11 industry professionals serving as coach and mentor to current packaging students in a new course, PKG 102.

“This course is a new addition to our packaging curriculum,” said Cimberly Weir, Outreach Coordinator & Instructor at MSU’s School of Packaging. “We believe PKG 102 will give our students an opportunity to explore their future as professionals in the industry and learn soft skills, such as professional communication, flexibility, and working as a team.”

Every fall, more and more freshmen are arriving at MSU having already decided to major in packaging. According to Weir, packaging as a discipline has been around for less than 70 years. With the industry changing rapidly, it’s more crucial than ever to start a packaging career with a growth mindset and strong professional skills. Students take the PKG 102 class early in the curriculum and work in groups to reach out to industry professionals and establish relationships. Kuebler is one of 11 professionals who will be coaching PKG 102 students this year.

“I asked Mike to be part of this program because he has such a unique role in the industry, and because I know he’s experienced a lot of growth in his career, starting as a project manager and working his way up to management roles,” said Weir. “He’s the kind of manager that rolls up his sleeves, goes to work, and leads by example. And now he’s putting himself out there as a role model for these students.”

Kuebler has already started working with a group of students, and he’s eager to share what he’s learned about what it takes to excel in the field. “When I’m hiring an excellent team member, there are two things I’m looking for: passion and teamwork,” he said. “If someone can be passionate about something outside of work – be it music, woodworking, or even riding bulls – they can be passionate about what we do. Passion is what drives our business forward, and I want passionate people on my team.

“I also look for people who can be an individual voice on a strong team. My team is made up of individual contributors. They don’t just check the boxes; they each bring something valuable to the team. Packaging is a very team-oriented industry, and PKG 102 will give these students a great head-start on becoming valuable team players.”

Several PKG 102 have already visited Kuebler at Smithers Pira’s package and distribution testing lab in Lansing, Michigan. “We’re lucky to have Smithers Pira so close in proximity to MSU,” said Weir. “I’m very excited about the connection we’re making with Smithers Pira. Having Mike’s lab in our backyard allows the students to see that aspect of the industry up close. We’re very grateful that he’s willing to be a part of this.”