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FLEXO Magazine : February 2008
FTA TODAY 54 FLEXO FEBRUARY 2008 www.flexography.org On The Rise North Carolina A&T Grows in Flexo, Packaging By Christian R. Bonawandt Among the list of colleges and uni- versities that offer education in flexographic printing and convert- ing, North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, NC, is not a name that is often heard. But this underdog has been offering flexo courses for nine years. Recently, under the guidance of Dr. Cynthia Carlton Thompson, chair of the Department of Graphic Communication Systems and Technological Studies, and Dr. E. Dean Gilbert, program coordinator of Printing and Publishing, the program has begun to undergo a growth spurt in size, support and ideas. As the university continues to pique the interest of industry, it has incor- porated innovative approaches to flexo and packaging education. CLASS IN SESSION Within the Department of Graphic Communication Systems and Technological Studies at North Carolina A&T, students can choose to major in Computer Assisted Design and Drafting (CADD), Printing and Publishing, Integrated Internet Technologies, or Technology Education While earning those degrees, they will be exposed to flexogra- phy in three different courses. "Students will take the 110 course, which covers the basics of graphics from start to finish, and includes flexo," said Gilbert. "Once they take that, they have the option of taking the 416 class, which focuses entire- ly on flexography," he continued. "Here they will conduct two pressruns on the Comco Cadet. The first is a single-color pressrun that requires the students to work in a team environment to complete the project. Students have to figure out how to run their job, side-by-side with a partner, and not have them bleed into each other. This requires them to coordinate from the begin- ning, much like an industrial environment. At the end of the project, the jobs are slit and handed in separately. After that, they'll design and print a duotone job. Toward the end of the semester, the students are given an assignment that requires them to design a paperboard package and conduct a pre- sentation to the class with solutions to make the package better. This introduces them to the overall packaging concept." Beyond that, there is an advanced course in flexo. "The 601 class involves color theory, designing, printing and converting a two-color and four-color process job," said Gilbert. "The jobs can be either a pressure- sensitive label or paperboard project. This is where we provide hands-on application to process color. Students also are introduced to corrugated packaging in our advanced flexography class. After that, there is the option of taking one of the two packag- ing classes that were just approved and will be available in the Fall 2008 semester. Hopefully, they'll take the corrugated de- sign class, which will include structure and graphic design. This would take all the train- ing they've had so far and give it purpose." GOING GRAPHIC, GOING FLEXO Born and raised near Greensboro, Gilbert's experience in printing and packaging goes back to 1970, during his undergraduate years at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. While earning his B.S. in Industrial Arts, he always had in- tentions of teaching, which he has done now for 32 years. "To get some experience in printing, I worked in student printing services while getting my undergraduate degree. After graduating, I went immedi- ately into teaching at a community college. I worked the community college system for years in North Carolina and Florida as a teacher and an administrator. For a brief period I moved into the industry as a training manager. In 1991, I returned to university teaching at Chowan University (Murfreesboro, NC). There I assisted in the school's transition from a two-year to a four-year school. It was then that I got in- volved in flexography." To strengthen his knowledge of the pro- cess, Gilbert took 18 credits in post-gradu- ate classes while at Chowan. "This piqued my interested in getting a doctorate at Clemson University. It took four and one- half years to get the degree, and afterward I came back home to Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University." Although, as an undergraduate student, his original intention was to teach busi- ness, Gilbert was drawn into packaging. "It's the creative aspect of packaging, the ability to take something from an idea to completion and have a three-dimensional product to see and touch," he said. RAPID GROWTH In the three-plus years that Gilbert has been with North Carolina A&T, the facili- ties and course offerings for packaging and flexo have expanded quite a bit. "We are really developing the program and just beginning to get the necessary space," he explained. "We've got lots of students that are interested in graphics---somewhere