Great Northern Corporation Collaboration Experience is Underway

Earlier this fall, University of Wisconsin-Stout and Great Northern Corporation kicked off a four-year pilot project called the Great Northern Corporation Collaboration Experience. This sponsored course is an advanced design selective for graphic design students and a senior capstone for packaging students. The course is to be held four times over four years and is co-taught by packaging and graphic design faculty.

The inaugural collaborative experience has 24 students working together in cross-disciplinary teams. “It’s an opportunity for students to better understand and grow in appreciation of each other’s majors, skills and methodologies. It’s a chance for them to challenge each other and compromise in order to develop a package that meets the needs of the customer, just like in the industry,” said Robert Meisner, packaging program director.

Collaborating on a common objective
The Great Northern course is co-taught by UW-Stout faculty members Robert Meisner and Nagesh Shinde. “This partnership is making an essential difference in improving the quality of education for our students,” states Shinde. Great Northern structural design manager Kris Johnson and graphic design manager Sarah Murawski, both UW-Stout alums, believe the collaborative experience will boost students’ abilities and prepare them for the industry before they even graduate.

The project
The project scope of the first semester was to create a prototype for Reckitt’s Air Wick packaging. The 24 students were split up into 6 teams and researched trend forecasting, interviewed in-store customers, and investigated emerging retail experiences. The goal is to design a single package that follows Sam’s Club, Costco and Amazon’s complex packaging requirements for in-store display and online retail. Each student team recently presented on Phase 1 of their project and received feedback from faculty, Johnson and Murawski will review the recorded presentations. According to Shinde, “Honestly, I have not seen this kind of excitement and zeal to outperform in a studio course by our students. This is where education is going – face to face, across disciplines and degrees.”

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