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StevenRobert Herlehy
United States
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Steven Robert Herlehy loves his career as a packaging industry executive, but he's also passionate about his hobbies and charitable involvements. Steven is a long time supporter of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization as well as the service organization Lifetime Assistance. Steven also enjoys traveling abroad and riding his motorcycle.

What Does a Product Packaging Engineer Do?

When Steven Robert Herlehy is asked to describe a typical work day for a product packaging engineer, he laughs. There really are no "typical days" for product packaging engineers! Every product has its own unique packaging challenges because no two products are ever exactly the same. Much of Steven's work involves designing custom packaging solutions.

Product packaging engineers work closely with production factories in their company's consumer divisions to find retail packaging solutions. Their goal is to ensure the integrity of their company's products. Products must survive the transportation process to their point of purchase. They must also stay fresh and intact while they are sitting on shelves waiting to be purchased.

Steven Robert Herlehy notes that it can be a real challenge to design a box that protects its contents without using lots of filler materials. Filler materials use additional resources, which raise the purchase price of products for end consumers. Fillers also create additional waste, which is bad for the planet.

Packaging engineers use CAD programs, much as architects do, to help them get the design specs right. Once the packaging is designed, packaging prototypes will be created. These prototypes are subjected to rigorous "survivability" tests to make sure they'll stand up under real life conditions. Some packaging engineers specialize in such quality assurance testing.

There is no such thing as generic product packaging. Every product has a specific shape, size and other physical characteristics. These properties vary from product to product, so custom protective packaging is essential. While custom package design is expensive, it cuts down on breakage during shipping. Custom package design also decreases the use of fillers, which add to operational costs. Custom packaging can simplify the entire product packing procedure.

The Science of Food Packaging

Next time you go to the supermarket, Steven Robert Herlehy urges you to think about how your food is packaged. Packaging protects the food and other products you buy. Packaging is specifically designed for the biological, chemical and physical needs of specific products.

In order to be successful, explain Steven Robert Herlehy, product packaging must:

• Protect the product from unusual movements such as falls, vibration and compression.

• Protect the product from infiltration by physical contaminants such as dust and water vapor. A lot of food packaging is designed to be impermeable to oxygen to keep package contents from spoiling. Some packages contain desiccants to leach moisture from the air, thereby extending shelf life.

• Protect the product from tampering. A number of product design features have been developed to protect products from external sabotage.

• Protect the product from being stolen. Shoplifting is one of the biggest threats to retail merchants. A lot of product packaging designs strive to protect items from being stolen. It's important, however, to retain marketing appeal in these designs.

• Have sufficient space to include label information. Some labels need to include lists of ingredients, while others contain instructions for use. In other instances, specialized information about disposing properly of a product must be conveyed.

• Be attractive enough to entice consumers to purchase the item. As Steven Robert Herlehy notes, consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to shopping. Many items offered for sale are differentiated more by brand than they are by function. It's essential that product packaging give marketers the opportunity to showcase the brand.

Steven Robert Herlehy: A Big Brothers Big Sisters Volunteer

Steven Robert Herlehy believes that it is vitally important to give back to the community you live in. That's why Steven supports the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. He volunteers his time, and he also donates money to the organization.

Big Brothers Big Sisters began in 1902 when court clerk Ernest Coulter helped organize New York City's first Children's Court. Coulter began befriending the children who came before the court, and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. In 1904, Coulter organized a group of 39 associates, each of whom agreed to mentor one boy.

By 1916, the organization Coulter founded was active in almost 100 American cities. The following year, the first national colloquium of the Big Brothers organization was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters is affiliated with more than 500 chapters spread throughout the United States. The organization operates through a mentorship model. By providing at-risk children with positive adult role models, Big Brothers Big Sisters changes children's lives for the better. As Steven Robert Herlehy notes, studies have shown that boys and girls who participate in the program are:

• 26 percent less likely to begin abusing alcohol
• 46 percent less likely to begin abusing illegal drugs
• 52 percent less likely to engage in acts of truancy
• 33 percent less likely to engage in displays of violent behavior

Children involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America are far more likely to graduate from high school. Many successful adults participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs when they were younger.

Lifetime Assistance

Steven Robert Herlehy also donates money to an organization called Lifetime Assistance. This organization provides many different services to individuals affected by developmental disabilities. Health experts say that developmental disabilities affect between one and two percent of the American population.

Developmental disabilities are a complex range of disorders. They can impair an individual physically, mentally or both physically and mentally. Sometimes developmental disabilities are associated with specific diagnoses such as Downs's syndrome or cerebral palsy. Often, however, developmental disabilities arise from a combination of social, environmental and physical factors such as:

• Chromosomal or genetic abnormalities
• Traumatic brain injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident, fall, physical abuse and similar circumstances
• Prematurity and birth injuries
• Poor maternal diet or substance abuse during pregnancy (including alcohol and tobacco abuse)
• Exposure to environmental toxins such as lead

Lifetime Assistance offers many different types of services to developmentally disabled individuals including:

• Residential services: Lifetime Assistance sponsors a number of homes with 24 hour staffing. These homes are designed to allow residents to function as independently as possible according to their abilities. Some individuals are placed in homes with families in the community. Other individuals live in group homes, while others live independently on their own. All individuals served by Lifetime Assistance have access to help with hygiene, home management and socialization skills.

• Field trips: Lifetime Assistance provides developmentally disabled individuals with the opportunity to get out into the community. Lifetime Assistance staff supervise field trips to coffee houses, libraries, health clubs, restaurants, museums and local retail businesses. Lifetime Assistance provides the transportation, and all vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts.

• Vocational services: Lifetime Assistance sponsors vocational training programs to help developmentally disabled clients achieve their highest level of independence. Trained staff members carefully assess each individual's abilities and potential. After individuals complete work training, a job placement center matches the individual with available employment opportunities.

Lifetime Assistance clients benefit from the assistance of a Job Coach who helps them transition to the role of employee. Job Coaches meet with employers and employees at least twice a month. This support has proven to be a vital component of a successful work experience.

Steven Robert Herlehy believes strongly in Lifetime Assistance's mission, and is honored to support the organization with his financial contributions.

Traveling to Spain and Portugal

Steven Robert Herlehy loves to travel both inside the United States and abroad. He feels strongly that the opportunity to see how other people live in their own countries promotes cultural understanding. Since Steven speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently, he would love to visit the Iberian Peninsula in the future.

Some of the world's greatest museums are to be found in Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon. Spain's main national art museum is the Prado, famous as the best single collection of Spanish art in the world. The Prado contains many works by Francisco de Goya and Diego Velázquez, Spain's two most famous classical artists. The Prado also contains an outstanding collection of European art from the 12th to the 19th century.

Spain's single most famous artist, however is probably the 20th century artist Pablo Picasso. Picasso's works are on display at Madrid's modern art museum, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The Sofia also contains a number of works by the great Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. The most famous painting there is Picasso's Guernica, the painter's haunting tribute to lives lost in the Spanish Civil War.

The Royal Palace is another one of Madrid's prime attractions. It was built in the 17th century on the remains of a 9th century fortress and contains over 3,400 rooms. Parts of the palace are open to the public, but they have to book an official tour. The Palace contains artwork, ceramics and fine furniture of great artistic and historical significance. It's also the only place in the world where you'll be able to see a complete quintet of Stradivarius string instruments.

Steven is also looking forward to visiting Barcelona, a Catalan city famous for its Gothic and Modernista architecture. Modernista architecture is characterized by its use of ornamental detail and curves. Its best known architect was Antoni Gaudí who designed a number of Barcelona buildings. Gaudi's best known building is the unfinished cathedral known as the Sagrada Família. The building is so beautiful that UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site.

Steven also hopes to spend some time in Portugal as well on his next trip abroad. Portugal's capital Lisbon doesn't have as much historic architecture as many other European capitals. In 1755, a huge earthquake devastated Lisbon, destroying most of the city. One of the oldest surviving buildings is the Jerónimos Monastery. Many of the locals attribute the survival of the monastery to divine intervention.

Both Portugal and Spain have wonderful beaches that are perfect for water sports like swimming and jet skiing. The two countries also have a number of national parks and nature preserves.

Vacations help relax Steven so that he is better able to perform his job. He enjoys his job, and feels his work makes a difference to others. Through his association with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Lifetime Assistance, he provides opportunities for others. Steven Robert Herlehy feels strongly that a happy life is a life that balances work, community involvement and recreation.

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