Heidelberg Hosts Annual SkillsUSA Georgia Competition at its Print and Packaging Technology Center
KENNESAW, GA—April 21, 2015—For the eighth year running, Heidelberg USA hosted the annual SkillsUSA Georgia Competition in Advertising and Design and Graphic Communications at its North American Print and Packaging Technology Center (NAPPTC) in Kennesaw, GA, March 26-27. The Printing and Imaging Association of Georgia (PIAG) partnered with Heidelberg USA to sponsor the event, for which Heidelberg USA also loaned a number of Printmaster QM 46 presses.
PIAG’s Educational Foundation awarded $2000 in scholarships to the first-, second- and third-place winners. The first place winners and their advisors advance to the national SkillsUSA competition June 22-26, in Louisville, KY. National champions are invited to compete in the WorldSkills International competition, held each fall in different locations around the globe. Heidelberg USA donates the use of three Printmaster QM 46 presses for the national competition, as well as the staff to train and conduct the competition.
The SkillsUSA Georgia competition featured advertising design, graphic communications and screen printing components. All 25 students completed a job interview and written skills assessment. The 13 advertising design competitors were then given three hours to compose, design and execute a logo and full-color advertisement. The six graphic communications students were required to demonstrate their competency in four key areas: prepress, 4-color offset printing, finishing (folding), and digital printing (output and simple VDP). Representatives of Ricoh Americas conducted training and assessment for the Georgia Competition using a Heidelberg Linoprint C901 digital press. Following a preliminary first-day training session, all of this year’s graphic communications winners received above-average to excellent scores in all six categories.
SkillsUSA is the national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupation education. It conducts the annual SkillsUSA Championships to recognize the achievements of vocational students and encourage the development of America’s "skilled workforce."
Winners in the graphic communications competition (6 competitors) include:
- First place: Ashley Purdue—Troup County Comprehensive High School, LaGrange, GA
- Second place: Ezekiel Moore—Harris County High School, Hamilton, GA
- Third place: Helen Smith—Sandy Creek High School, Tyrone, GA
Winners in the advertising and design competition (13 competitors) include:
- First place: Sydney Freeman—Maxwell High School of Technology, Lawrenceville, GA
- Second place: Abby Smith— Richmond Hill High School, Richmond Hill, GA
- Third place: Chidera Obinali—Sandy Creek High School, Tyrone, GA
Eyes on the Prize
“The state and national SkillsUSA competitions give students rare exposure to the practical applications of graphic communications technology, and we at Heidelberg USA are always amazed and heartened by the level of technical know-how on display,” said Susan Nofi, senior vice president of human resources. "Working with these talented students and their dedicated teachers is among the most inspiring opportunities we have to meet and support a new generation of graphic arts professionals, who will drive the forward growth of our industry."
Through its participation in SkillsUSA at both the state and national levels, Heidelberg works to counter the shortage of technically skilled operators and a lack of funding and career guidance. Said Kip Jarrett, field service representative for Heidelberg USA and chair of Graphic Communications at SkillsUSA, "The hands-on experience students receive at both the state and national levels breaks down their fear of the unknown and helps them zero in on areas of special interest for their post-secondary education or career."
"Many graphic arts teachers and students have neither learned to operate, nor ever seen, an offset press," he explained. "To help remedy that deficiency, we try to show them all the relevant offset technology we can, including learning how to examine offset press sheets for printing flaws, and how to take ink density readings. This year’s graphic communications competition also gave students a chance to experience the totality of Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow by following a full-color magazine cover from prepress through press, showing the same job at every workstation."
Heidelberg backs its commitment to graphic arts education with donations of facilities, equipment, money and expertise to the next generation of graphic arts employees while they are still in school, and by providing them with opportunities to work beyond the walls of their traditional campuses. Throughout the year, Clemson University’s Graphic Communications advanced "GC 4400" class, which focuses on commercial printing with an emphasis on sheetfed offset technology, visits Heidelberg’s Technology Center to supplement their classroom work.
Said Eric Weisenmiller, associate professor for Graphic Communications at Clemson University, "Although Clemson’s lab facilities provide an immersive experience for our students—complete with equipment representing all of the major printing processes—Heidelberg’s Kennesaw facility expands their design horizons by making state-of-the-art equipment available for class projects. Led by some of the best in the business, Heidelberg staff demonstrations promote unique interactions that drive home the need for an efficient production workflow. Students consistently rank their visit to Heidelberg’s Technology Center as the best field trip experience of their academic career."
Heidelberg opens its doors to groups from Kennesaw State University and other colleges and high schools with Graphic Communications programs in an effort to expose students to the latest technology used by customers today.
Heidelberg’s dedication to developing future leaders spills into other areas of its business. Every year, the company takes on a series of student interns in its Marketing Communications Department, as well as in other departments. Since 2001, more than 80 student interns have gained valuable insight and practical experience by working closely with Heidelberg technical experts, product managers and other personnel to learn the business from the inside out. Heidelberg internships are open to matriculating students at colleges and universities nationwide; at present, however, the majority of Heidelberg interns are enrolled at Kennesaw State University (a Heidelberg neighbor in Kennesaw, GA.) and Clemson University in Clemson, SC.
"The opportunity for our finest Graphic Communications students to have an internship with Heidelberg is invaluable," said George Sipp, director of the School of Art at Kennesaw State. "Our Applied Arts students are taught in their classes the importance of effective communication skills and attention to client service. While gaining classroom credit, interns work full-time and learn that there are multiple design projects on which they have to work simultaneously. This helps them develop the skills they will need upon entering the workforce. We are very grateful to Heidelberg for giving the Graphic Communications students at Kennesaw State University this extraordinary opportunity."
Heidelberg USA’s broader support of U.S. graphic communications industry education also includes an annual donation to a general fund administered by the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF). Heidelberg executives devote their time and resources to the Board of the PGSF and supporting technical colleges and universities across the country.