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Flexo students solve business challenge

By Steve Katz, Editor | May 28, 2013

Phoenix Challenge competitors use their business knowledge, graphic arts and flexo printing expertise.

Education plays a key role in the health of the flexographic printing industry. Several North American universities and high schools offer comprehensive graphic arts programs where students learn an array of skills that prepare them for entrance into the printing and packaging industries.
The Phoenix Challenge Foundation, an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization of industry professionals dedicated to the recruitment and development of the future workforce for flexography, hosted its 6th Annual College Competition program in conjunction with the FFTA Annual Forum in San Diego, CA. Fifty-six students made up nine project teams from nine North American colleges known for their graphic arts programs. The competition is a semester-long project with the objective of solving a “real-life” business challenge where students use their business knowledge, graphic arts and flexo printing expertise.
This year, the problem presented to the competitors involved providing a hypothetical marketing group proposals for a local music or arts festival of narrow web flexographically printed labels and/or packaging to be used for concession food items to be sold at the event. The teams were also requested to provide a promotional piece to be handed out. Part of the challenge was to consider the environmental sustainability of these items as the amount of waste generated could be large. A minimum of two, and a maximum of three items were required for consideration. Projects were limited to four stations, and not colors, with only spot colors allowed (no process printing).
The 2013 winning team came from Ryerson University, in Toronto, ON, Canada. The Ryerson team was made up of five students majoring in Graphic Communications Management (GCM): Mark Corrigan, Nikita Kuzmin, Olivia Parker, Hannah Plavnick, and Jay Wong. The faculty advisor was Ian Baitz, chair of GCM.
The winning project was three flexographically-printed pieces developed for "Queforte," a fictitious music festival. The students printed on three very different materials: synthetic Tyvek, clear poly film with self-wound postprint laminate, and paper labelstock. They successfully matched color across the substrates. They did inline rotary diecutting, slitting and stripping of the matrix and documented all production conditions. The project included NFC (Near Field Communication) with proof of concept for integration to Facebook.
The project was completed using the Esko workflow, Cosmolight digital water wash plates, an Anderson & Vreeland Orbital X processor and a Comco Cadet 700 4-color press.
The Ryerson team acknowledges the outstanding industry support it received from many companies who assist the Ryerson GCM program. The team was also very appreciative of the Canadian Flexographic Training Committee (CFTC) and Ryerson University who funded a portion of the students' travel expenses to San Diego.
Each participating team professionally presented their projects in the all-day judging finale on Saturday, April 27. Winning teams were honored at the FFTA Annual Forum’s opening session and banquet dinner Sunday evening following the competition. While the Ryerson team was honored as the overall winner, three additional teams were recognized for excellence in specific key categories. A judging panel made up of seven industry professionals review each presentation, examines the printed work, and scores them for the competition.
The 2013 Phoenix Challenge College Competition winners:
•   Overall Competition Ryerson University –
 Mark Corrigan, Olivia Parker, Jay Wong, Hannah Plavnick, Nikita Kuzmin with Ian Baitz
•   Graphics & Execution Clemson University –
 Katelyn Wrobel, Bonnie Hanna, Jason Cagle, Nathan Plavnick with Nona Woobright
•   ConceptCal Poly (California Politechnic State University) –
Colleen Twomey, Eli McNutt, Kendra Jaqua, Ali Torbati-Moghadam, Rosie Bubb, Natalee Consula with Malcolm Keif
•   Research Eastern Kentucky University –
Dawn Plunkett, Catherine Thompson, Alex Carson, Nicole Arbino, Dylan Lakes with David Dailey
“The Phoenix Challenge College Competition continues to provide students an opportunity to grow and expand their graphic arts knowledge. It is exciting to support students from so many colleges and universities with a focused program on their prime area of career interest,” said Bettylyn Krafft, chairman of the Phoenix Challenge Foundation.
For additional information or to donate to the Phoenix Challenge Foundation, contact Bettylyn Krafft at 704-309-3748 or

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