Year Four of the Great Northern Collaborative Experience at UW-Stout Is Underway

Course Background

This year’s spring semester at the University of Wisconsin-Stout marks the fourth year of the Great Northern Corporation Collaborative Experience. Back in 2020, Great Northern announced that it would be investing in a four-year pilot project focused on advanced design and packaging. The sponsored course is an advanced design selective for graphic design students and a senior capstone for packaging students.

During the course, students work in cross-disciplinary teams to solve packaging challenges and complete a project for one of Great Northern’s customers. It allows packaging and graphic design students to work together, challenge each other, and compromise to develop a packaging solution that meets the customer’s needs. At the end of the course, each group presents their solution to Great Northern team members and the customer.

“The different backgrounds, skill sets, and approaches to problem-solving each team member brings to the team can be a challenge but will almost always result in a stronger solution,” said Great Northern design manager Sarah Murawski. “The success of each team’s final presentation is the culmination of all of their talents.”

Recap of the First Three Years

Over the last three years, students worked with different Great Northern customers who had unique packaging needs. Below is a recap of the past three years.

In 2021, the customer was Reckitt, a CPG with many health, hygiene and nutrition brands. The class project was focused on Air Wick plug-in scented oils and diffusers. Six teams of packaging and graphic design students were tasked with creating a single sustainable package that meets club store and Amazon packaging requirements for in-store display and online retail, while improving customer experience.

In 2022, the students worked with Revolutionary Beauty, a producer of make-up, skincare, and haircare products.Students were given the challenge to design a gift package and retail display for ULTA Beauty Stores for a new sub-brand of cosmetics. In scope was the name, concept behind the product, and graphics and packaging for the point of sale.

Last year, students worked with Hain Celestial, a producer of health and wellness foods.The goal for that semester was to design a two or three pack culinary kit for Hain Celestial’s  Spectrum Brand of cooking oils. The package needed to work for both club store and e-commerce. Students designed the brand, theme for the culinary pack and new graphics to entice the customer to purchase. They also designed a pallet for the club store including a secondary tray to hold the culinary kits.

2024 and Beyond

This year students will have the opportunity to work with Athena Club, a high-quality, sustainable body care, wellness, period care, and lifestyle products producer. The goal for the students is to design a unique Target endcap display to merchandise Athena Club products, redesign the primary single-pack razor kit, redesign the 5-blade refill kit, and redesign the overall brand, colors, and look of the brand to persuade the shopper to purchase.

As this semester marks the fourth and final year of the commitment, Great Northern is excited to announce that they have committed for another four years. “The Great Northern Collaborative Experience has proven to be an invaluable opportunity for the students to cultivate their design, collaboration and communication skills across majors,” said Sarah. “This senior-level class provides the Packaging and Graphic Design students with real-life project experience they cannot get anywhere else on campus; setting them up for success as they start their careers.”

If you’re interested in a packaging career at a company that produces sustainable and eco-friendly products for national brands and retailers, check out our career opportunities.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is more than a tagline, it is an attitude. At Great Northern, customer challenges are met by an undying spirit to doing what others can’t or won’t. It’s in our DNA. And it is what our customers have come to expect with Great Northern.

How can we exceed your expectations?