The Sonoco Institute was created to exploit the synergies that exist between the graphic communications and packaging science departments. It is the only university program in the country with this one-of-a-kind multidisciplinary approach to packaging as a core competency.
Chip Tonkin has been involved in the packaging industry for almost 20 years operating across a diverse array of market segments and job roles. Because of his educational background in mechanical engineering and graphic communications, these roles were initially very technical in nature covering process control and product development, but over time the responsibilities broadened to include team management, sales and customer dynamics, and supply chain logistics. While working he completed his PhD which provided a thorough foundation in human perception and consumer behavior related to packaging design. He left International Paper in 2007 to launch Clemson University’s newest initiative – the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design & Graphics. This was a unique opportunity to create an environment that brought together multiple academic disciplines with engaged industry partners to drive innovative packaging development, greatly expand student and faculty opportunities, and act as a catalyst for research in to “game changing” technologies. This combination of practical experience, strong technical background, and broad exposure to diverse markets and customer voices gives him an unusual perspective in the packaging world.