As millennials enter the manufacturing workforce, work style differences with their older colleagues seem to attract more attention than the innovation strides that these young professionals and students are making. That won’t be true at PACK EXPO East (Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia; Feb. 16-18, 2015). Show owner and producer PMMI (, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, has organized special displays and demonstrations that spotlight the achievements of packaging and engineering students from Rutgers University and Vanderbilt University.

Rutgers' elite Packaging Engineering Program (Booth #1067) will present The Packaging Design Studio to demonstrate the latest student-developed packaging equipment. The new technologies on display will include automated systems for loading and unloading, custom-order snack mix production machines and innovative packaging prototypes.

The Future of Pneumatics (Booth #858), sponsored by Vanderbilt, the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) and The Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), will showcase advancements in pneumatic technology, including live demonstrations of the school's pneumatic exhaust gas recovery system. The team says its system can help companies meet sustainability goals by reducing air consumption of pneumatic actuators by up to 25 percent. This system is neither commercialized nor widely used yet, and the display will offer attendees an early look into the next generation of pneumatics technology.

The contributions of students from Rutgers and Vanderbilt at PACK EXPO East represent just a few of the early manufacturing achievements of the millennial generation, fueling heightened expectations for this group. According to "Inspiring the Next Generation Workforce: The 2014 Millennial Impact Report," from The Case Foundation, this group of workers is over 35 million strong, with approximately 14 million 20- to 24-year-olds and almost 32 million 25- to 34-year-olds employed in the United States as of April 20141.

"Companies must continue to adapt to the rapidly changing face of the workforce," says Maria Ferrante, vice president, Education & Workforce Development, PMMI. "Hiring millennials can come with distinct advantages. The students who participate in the Rutgers and Vanderbilt programs exhibiting at PACK EXPO East exemplify the drive, talent and commitment to excellence that they share with so many of their counterparts in engineering programs across the country."

The February debut of PACK EXPO East — the newest event in PMMI's portfolio of PACK EXPO trade shows — will be an important destination where professionals of all levels of experience, backgrounds and market segments will discover the latest innovations in processing and packaging. In addition to the aisles of new technologies on display, visiting The Packaging Design Studio and attending The Future of Pneumatics demonstration will offer attendees an illuminating glimpse into the future of packaging and processing for their respective industries - and beyond.