Packaging student finds true calling in packaging industry

Undergraduate student Brian Forté looks forward to a career in packaging.

Brian Forté, packaging undergraduate student
Brian Forté, packaging undergraduate student

Introductory courses in packaging led undergraduate student Brian Forté to change his major to packaging at Michigan State University. Through the School of Packaging in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students learn to create innovative solutions that enhance or maintain product quality, increase efficiency and reduce waste. In doing so, students contribute to the economic development and quality of life of people across the world through highly relevant, educational experiences and cutting-edge research.

“I became interested in the introductory packaging courses after speaking with students and faculty in the School of Packaging. My curiosity grew after taking the introductory courses, which made me feel like I had found a home at the School of Packaging,” Forté explained.

Brian Forté is a senior, expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the MSU School of Packaging in spring 2022. Prior to changing his major, he studied mechanical engineering for three years. He has completed internships with Mars-Wrigley, Henkel and Giliead Sciences. Following graduation, Forté plans to pursue a career in the packaging industry and to also obtain an MBA.

“You can use a packaging degree in a lot more ways than you think. Aerospace, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food packaging are just a few of the opportunities you can find in the industry,” Forté explained. “There are very few majors at MSU which consistently provide students with over a 95% job placement rate after graduation. That alone speaks to the quality we produce and how sought-after students are in this field.”

MSU is the first and the most comprehensive packaging school in higher education. It is also the largest, graduating half of all packaging engineers in the U.S. each year.

One of Forte’s most memorable experiences from the School of Packaging was the opportunity to travel to PackExpo in Las Vegas this past September. He explained that PackExpo is a trade show experience on the cutting-edge of processing and packaging innovation.

“I was able to network with the School of Packaging alumni and see firsthand the topics we are learning in the classroom and was able to share my experiences in the School of Packaging with professionals across the packaging industry,” he said.

During his time at MSU, Forté has been active in many student organizations including: Athletes in Action, School of Packaging Curriculum Committee, Coalition of Packaging Professionals and Academic Connections (CoPPAC) Executive Board Fundraising Chair and the Youth Ministry Team at Mount Hope Church. In addition, he serves as one of the first students on the newly formed School of Packaging Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Forté also enjoys serving as a resident assistant in Rather Hall at MSU.

“My favorite activity is being a resident assistant on campus. I love helping students succeed and having the opportunity to make a lifetime impact on young adults' lives truly means a lot to me,” he shared.

Helping others, fundraising and entrepreneurship are key skills Forté learned early in life.

In high school, Forté founded The Brian Forté Foundation (formerly From the Bottom of Our Soles), a nonprofit providing new and gently used shoes for those in need in Detroit. For the inaugural event in 2016, nearly 250 pairs of new and gently used shoes were provided to the homeless of Detroit. He was awarded the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council for his efforts.

Forté wrote a reflective piece about this experience that changed his life.

“I just wanted to make a change in the community and then grew into something that I could not stop that year of 2016,” he wrote. “For those aspiring entrepreneurs reading this, you must realize that you are not guaranteed tomorrow, so why waste time of pushing things off until the next day. As harsh it may sound, it is true and is what I live by everyday.”


Name: Brian Forté

Hometown: Belleville, MI

Degree: Packaging Science, B.S. with a concentration in value chain management. Minor in entrepreneurship & innovation with a concentration in social entrepreneurship.

Why did you choose your major and why MSU?
Having studied mechanical engineering for three years, I had to move away from engineering at one point. I became interested in the introductory packaging courses after speaking with students and faculty in the School of Packaging. My curiosity grew after taking the introductory courses, which made me feel like I had found a home at the School of Packaging.

Who or what inspired your interest in the major you selected?
PKG 101 and PKG 102 are the two classes that sparked my interest in packaging. They gave me an idea of what packaging was and how to succeed in packaging.

What has been one of your best experiences within your major so far?
One of my best experiences would be traveling to PackExpo in Las Vegas this past September. PackExpo is a trade show experience on the cutting-edge of processing and packaging innovation. I was able to network with the School of Packaging alumni and see firsthand the topics we are learning in the classroom and was able to share my experiences in the School of Packaging with professionals across the packaging industry.

What do you want others to know about this major?
Packaging is like a multifaceted Swiss Army knife. You can use this degree in a lot more ways than you think. Aerospace, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food packaging are just a few of the opportunities you can find in the industry. There are very few majors at MSU which consistently provide students with over a 95% job placement rate after graduation. That alone speaks to the quality we produce and how sought-after students are in this field.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?
The best thing about being an MSU student is being able to be proud of MSU and walk with confidence from the school I am a product of. With the School of Packaging being the best packaging program in the nation, I am going to represent the best of the best anywhere I go.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities or committees? If yes, please list. Also, what is your favorite activity and why is it important to you?

  • Athletes in Action
  • School of Packaging Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee member
  • School of Packaging Curriculum Committee member
  • Coalition of Packaging Professionals and Academic Connections member
  • Youth Ministry Team member at Mount Hope Church
  • Resident Assistant

My favorite activity is being a resident assistant on campus. I love helping students succeed and having the opportunity to make a lifetime impact on young adults' lives truly means a lot to me.

Any thoughts or advice for current or new students?
As you gain knowledge and experiences, reach back and pass it along to the next generation of aspiring packaging engineers/students. Network as much as possible and get to know your peers that you are in class with. The industry is very small, and you will be surprised about who you run into later on down the road. Don't be afraid to take opportunities that make you uncomfortable, that's where true growth happens.

What are your future plans? (Internships, future job aspirations, etc.)
I am planning to go into the industry upon graduation. I would like to join a company that will provide opportunities to learn and grow. After gaining a wide variety of experiences early on in my career, I plan to further my education to obtain an MBA.

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