The NELMA donation capped off two years of fundraising and logistics that allowed Millersville University to secure matching funds from the Foundation of the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA). Press manufacturer Mark Andy donated a significant portion of the purchase price of the press, but the grant project’s budget was still short until NELMA filled the gap, says Millersville professor Mark Snyder in Lancaster, Pa. “They really saved the day,” says Snyder.
NELMA president Steve Miller says supporting the Millersville program was a natural fit for the regional association. “NELMA’s charter states that we are here to further our industry through education and sharing information,” Miller points out. “This was a no-brainer for our board – we could help Millersville University get its curriculum together, train these kids, graduate them and get them into the industry.”
Miller notes that NELMA scholarship funds have gone unawarded in recent years because of a lack of students committed to entering the label printing industry. “Finding trained young people is a big problem for all of the companies in this business,” he says.
Snyder is working to change that. The Graphic Communications program in Millersville’s Department of Industry and Technology boasts 30 to 40 students from across Pennsylvania and nearby states. The new press – a 10”, four color Mark Andy 2200 – brings web printing and flexo technology to the students, complementing the department’s existing sheetfed litho presses.
Snyder’s commitment to his students and the FTA’s strong support of the grant application captured the attention of Roy Webb, vice president of Strategic and Global Accounts at Mark Andy. Webb worked with Snyder and FTA to put the new press within reach of the university. “We felt we had a champion here in Mark who would spearhead the program,” says Webb. “He has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement behind him, and a plan that can definitely be successful. Mark Andy is proud to be a supporter of such endeavors to further the industry’s education.”
The contributions from FTA, NELMA, Mark Andy, and other individual donors are also being augmented by donations of supplies – from paper to cylinders to anilox rolls – from companies throughout the region, and Miller says NELMA’s commitment to the Millersville program didn’t end with signing the donation check. “We have people willing to volunteer, to go into the classroom or send employees to the classes on an ongoing basis to serve as technical experts,” he notes.
Snyder will report on the installation of the new press and the development of the flexo curriculum at NELMA’s annual Expo and Networking Conference on Thursday, May 8 at the Marriott in Bridgewater, NJ.