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New degree reflects printing growth

November 07, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

In response to the printing industry's need for skilled workers, Hagerstown Business College is offering a new degree in graphic design in 2000.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission gave its approval for the college to offer an associate of applied science degree in graphic design, according to HBC President Christopher B. Motz.

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"We're excited about it," said Tony Dahbura, vice president of Hub Labels, Inc., a Hagerstown printing company. "Graphic arts is an up-and-coming profession. It's going to be very good for a lot of people in the community."

Thomas Krouse, an imaging technician at Quad Graphics in Martinsburg, W.Va., said the program is an excellent idea. "There are people with raw artistic talent, but they don't know how to channel it into a career," he said.

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Printing and graphics are an emerging industry in the Tri-State area, according to Motz. A 1997 labor study prepared for the Tri-County Council of Western Maryland estimated a 91-percent growth rate in those businesses over five years, he said.

Richard Burnham, vice chairman of Printing Industries of Maryland, said printing is the biggest manufacturing industry in Maryland and the third largest in America.

"Just like any other industry, printing/graphics is really in need of highly skilled help," he said. "There are tremendous opportunities out there. The sky's the limit."

Burnham, who owns the Baltimore pre-press company Graphic Imaging Inc., said printing has outlived its reputation as a "dirty" line of work. Internet influence has not hurt but helped it because online services also use printing and design.

Burnham serves on a seven-member advisory committee for the college program. The committee includes representatives from Hub Labels, Phoenix Color and other local printers.

Motz sent surveys to several printing, graphic and advertising companies inviting them to help develop HBC's new program. The college hired former digital printing specialist Denise Lancaster of Waynesboro, Pa., to be the director.

She holds a bachelor's degree in mass media from Houston Baptist University and is working on a thesis for her master's degree in graphic arts publishing from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Before coming to the college, she worked at Phoenix Color, training publishers, designers and production managers in pre-press and printing technology, such as a remote digital proofing system. Lancaster said she also served as a training consultant for Hub Labels.

She began teaching two classes in May and taught five this fall. The graphics design program will last five trimesters and 70 credit hours.

She will teach students to use software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Quark Express, Acrobat, Macromedia Freehand and Flight Check.

According to Motz, the courses will give an in-depth knowledge of the industry, encouraging creativity while stressing technical skill. Students will learn to design advertising campaigns, logos and product packaging.

The program will prepare them for a variety of jobs. According to Motz, graduates will be qualified to work as graphic designers, illustrators or layout and production artists for books, newspapers, magazines, television and computer media.

Similar training schools have cropped up in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

In Hedgesville, W. Va., the James Rumsey Vocational Technical Center and Shepherd College formed the Regional Printing Institute, which plans to offer an associate's degree in print technology. It is not yet built or funded.

In Chambersburg, Pa., two entrepreneurs created a for-profit school, RSI Institute for the Graphic Arts, which offers a six-month course without a degree. Its first class began in August.

Motz said HBC's program is unique because it encompasses the entire printing and design process. It begins with the winter trimester on Jan. 10, 2000, and will include a 90-hour internship.

For more information, call 301-739-2670.

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