In a digital age, graphic design students continue to trend further away from print. Harper College in Palatine, Illinois is trying to change that mentality by giving their students a truly hands-on curriculum — showing them the many career opportunities in the print industry.

Running a Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 52, the students are able to work with and watch a high speed, high quality press in action. Heidelberg has partnered with Harper College to encourage the program’s success by donating Saphira Consumables.

Print Is Not Dead

The Graphic Arts Technology Department (GRA) at Harper College equips students with basic knowledge of digital prepress, graphic design, production techniques, desktop publishing, and project management. With over 400 students coming through the program each year, students are offered hands-on experience and exposure to different options for their future careers. The program’s top priority is to show students interested in graphic design the many outlets they can work in and how technologically advanced print really is.

“Today, I rely on the skills that I learned at Harper, which are a strong foundation for every project I work on in my current position,” said Julia Franiak, Art Director of The Food Group. “Harper’s GRA program teaches print production and stresses the importance of industry standards. As a result, I’m able to build print ready files as I design, which makes me a versatile designer and saves time and production costs for the client. These production skills also allow me to speak directly with print vendors to collaborate on unique projects and help me suggest special print finishings in client presentations.”

“Students think print is dead,” said Patty Bruner, Graphic Arts Program Coordinator at Harper College. “It’s my job to teach them that this is inaccurate. I’ll ask them if they have looked down a grocery store aisle in a while, and explain that everything there has been printed. Even the pen they’re writing with has been printed on. I want them to leave the program knowing that print is a strong and viable industry.”

A One-Of-A-Kind Partnership

With the intent of having both a digital and sheetfed press for a well-rounded program, Bruner first looked for an offset press that could satisfy their needs. Harper College picked the Speedmaster SM 52 for the high quality that the press produces.

“The SM 52 helps us really show our students that print is not dying,” said Bruner. “They see this very high speed, technologically advanced piece of equipment run first-hand. Hopefully in the coming years, we can expand our department even more.”

After the investment in the SM 52, Heidelberg began donating Saphira Consumables to Harper College in order to help grow the program. The consumables enable the SM 52 to continue to produce at the highest speeds and quality possible.

“It’s important for us to invest in younger generations,” said Susan Nofi, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and General Counsel at Heidelberg USA. “We want these students at Harper College to be just as passionate for print as we are at Heidelberg. Donating consumables helps Harper College teach students the power of print and the flow of the production process.”

“It’s a great partnership we have with Heidelberg,” said Bruner. “We know that the SM 52 will keep producing large amounts of high quality prints for us, and we know that we are lucky enough to have Heidelberg partner with us by providing Saphira Consumables. With the press running along with the consumables, we can keep students interested and engaged. We can keep encouraging our students to explore avenues in print.”

About the Graphic Arts Technology Department at Harper College

Founded in 2005, the Graphic Arts Technology Department at Harper College has been preparing their students for a career in graphic arts technology with the partnership of an expert faculty and using hands-on approach learning. Graduates tend to work for advertising agency/design firms, printing companies, in-house art departments at large corporations, desktop publishing and graphic design companies, and suppliers, as well as freelance or even start their own business.

Rebecca Melville
PR and Marketing Specialist