California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) was the overall winner in this year’s College Phoenix Challenge, held in Orlando, FL, USA, during the annual FFTA Forum. Cal Poly won with the best overall score in all categories. Individual category winners were Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC, USA, for research; Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada, for concept; and Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN, USA, for graphics and execution.
The competition assignment came from a fictional distributor of consumable food items. The distributor wanted to offer short-run branded items in college coffee shops. The specifications required a narrow web flexo package that would provide enhanced sustainability, increased functionality and improved marketing appeal. In addition, the distributor was explicit that all packages be non-pressure sensitive, flexo narrow web printed and exclude any pressure sensitive labels.
Judges for the competition were industry professionals from converters and consumer product companies. While the competition was close, the students from Cal Poly were consistent in all categories.
Founded in 1998, the Phoenix Challenge Foundation is an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization of industry professionals dedicated to the recruitment and development of the future workforce for flexography. Each year, flexo high school students and teachers from throughout the US and Canada are invited to the Phoenix Challenge, a two-day skill-based competition with hands-on and written testing in operating a flexo press, prepress, platemaking, and overall flexo knowledge. Winners are eligible for scholarships funded by the Phoenix Challenge Foundation. To date, $24,000 in scholarships has been awarded to encourage students to pursue further education and a career in flexography.