On February 17th, 2024, Christian Brothers University celebrated the unveiling and dedication of the St. Benilde Packaging Laboratory. The lab is dedicated to Dr. Siripong Malasri, CPP.

“This building is named after Saint Benilde Romançon, the first Christian Brother to be canonized after St. John Baptist de La Salle, who founded the order,” said President Archer. “In his lifetime, he quietly introduced many innovations to the teaching profession and to education itself. It is fitting then that our St. Benilde Hall has become a home to educational innovations at CBU. It is also fitting that this addition to the building has been made possible and fully funded by a CBU alumnus in order to continue and expand those innovations.” 

The expansion was funded by a donation from Richard Gadomski, a graduate of the CBU Class of 1962 whose lifetime benevolence led the university to name its School of Engineering in his honor in 2016. 

St. Benilde Hall was originally constructed in 1960 and was renovated in 2003 to create additional laboratory and classroom space for the Engineering school. This recently completed expansion, which was led by Fleming Architects and Linkous Construction, added about 4,700 square feet to the original building, which will be primarily used by CBU’s Packaging Program. Undergraduate programs offered in the Packaging Program includes a Packaging minor and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management with a Packaging Concentration. At the graduate level, the Packaging Program offers a Packaging Engineering Graduate Certificate” as part of the Master of Science in Engineering Management. 

The newly enhanced St. Benilde Hall will consist of an existing ISTA Certified Transport Testing Laboratory, one of five in Memphis, and a future ISTA Certified Thermal Testing Laboratory”. As of November of 2023, there were only 11 certified thermal labs worldwide, and CBU’s goal is to be the first university to host one. In addition, the new lab spaces will allow CBU to move into the medical device package testing. The two certified laboratories and the medical device package testing capability will allow CBU to be more competitive in packaging education and research, recruiting, and commercial testing service. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about creating such an exclusive and innovative program for our students and our university,” said Dr. Malasri. “My early vision for this project started with a dream about a packaging institute for our collaboration with industry partners. Since 2010, we have collaborated with various companies under the Healthcare Packaging Consortium, include FedEx, International Paper, Smith + Nephew, Medtronic, Stryker, and others. With the new space and equipment, the collaboration will be elevated to a higher level.” 

The building’s new laboratories also add new equipment for students and commercial testing— including a vibration table, drop tester, incline impact tester, compression tables and three new, state-of-the-art environmental chambers — which will make their work more efficient and streamline the experiential learning opportunities that are vital to their area of study. 

By including cold chain packaging, medical device packaging, and commercial testing, the program will recruit and attract more students to this field and has the potential to become a revenue generator for the university while also providing a great service to the community.