Esko (www.esko.com) reports on a highly successful edition of the recently organized Honours Class in Flexible Packaging. This Honours Class is organized in cooperation with the Artevelde University College Ghent. The unique Honours Class provides the school’s education program with a complementary in-depth course on Flexible Packaging Prepress. The 2015 Honours Class thrived on last year’s two weeks Summer Class, but was now formalized with credits and widened to include international partners of Artevelde University College. The Honours Class is from this year on an official free of choice add-on program worth 13 credits supplementary to the 180 credits of the bachelor degree Graphic and Digital Media of the Artevelde University College in Ghent. Also new for this year’s session was the participation of international students, with nine attendees from Canada, Finland and Slovenia, next to nine Artevelde students. All of these third-year students enjoyed both a theoretical and practical education that included real-life situations, allowing them to experience the complete packaging development process from design concept to ready-to-print flexo plates. There were also visits to flexible packaging printer Segers & Belcaen, folding carton packaging printer Du Caju and flexo service provider Athena Graphics.
Jan De Roeck, Director of Solutions Management at Esko, says the course was a great success, commenting: “We know that the students of Artevelde University College have a very good educational and technical foundation due to the high quality of the lectures. We are very excited to add our industry expertise to this high quality education program.”
The initiative is another example of Esko’s long-term commitment to supporting schools and students as part of its mission to “educate to innovate”. This is accomplished by providing software and hardware solutions and through hands-on training at a variety of educational institutions worldwide, including Artevelde. De Roeck adds, “While a broad and basic training is provided by the institutions, our insights into the latest innovations and practical experience in the field of packaging, signs and POS displays help develop a more business-ready understanding for students. We continuously research the market and develop solutions that address key challenges and consider it vital that we invest in ensuring that our knowledge is passed on to emerging industry talent. This Honours Class ticks all the boxes."
“Last year’s Summer Class was so successful that we decided to expand the 2015 Honours Class to other partnering universities with similar bachelor degrees.” states Luc Berth, lecturer in prepress and workflow techniques at Artevelde University College. “There have been a lot of technological developments over the last years, and technology keeps evolving. It was great to see students are really fast learners. They adapted easily, and if something didn’t work out, they tried something different. This great practical experience prepares them well for entry into the work force.”
“The Honours Class consists not only of the two weeks at the premises of Esko but also of personal work to be done beforehand and after.” Berth continues. “In the months beforehand students had to do preparatory work. This consisted of a reflection on the cultural impact of packaging towards global religions and regions. They reviewed different product packages and linked them to the Esko solutions, and personalized an existing flexible packaging design. Through this design, theory and practical execution got linked during the two weeks at Esko.”
Berth adds, “We observed interesting differences between the Belgian and International participants. The Canadian students were very technical. Esko software is embedded in some of their courses which gave them a head start in the practical sessions. On the other hand the international students were impressed with the company visits, something our Belgian students regularly do as part of their curriculum.”
Real-life testing for greater understanding
So how did the students feel the Honours Class went? Canadian Michelle Paquette states, “Students who are studying Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada must complete a summer internship program in the graphic arts industry between their third and fourth year of university. The purpose of the internship position is to allow the students to apply their education to real life situations. This course was a great way to broaden my knowledge about the entire packaging supply chain, understand how it all works and improve my ability to explain it to other people.”
Amy Nhan, also from Canada, says, “The nice thing about this Honours Class was that it combined all of the information we had already received from school, and we gained a more in-depth understanding of Esko’s products and software. I thought there was very good communication between the students and Esko. It opened doors, developed cooperation with other schools and students, and created new contacts for us. The difference between the Belgian students and the Canadians was that we knew something about everything, but the Belgian students knew more about one topic.”
Belgian student Ellen Bouckaert comments that a unique aspect of this Honours Class was the different specialties it addressed: “The unique aspect of this masterclass is that all the different specializations of the education “Graphic & Digital Media” can follow this masterclass. For students from Cross-media for example: they will not be directly in contact with printing & software but need to know a lot about it if they want to help their future clients as good as possible. For me, I have always been interested in packaging, sometimes wondering how some ingenious packages are made and produced on a large scale. I did my internship in a packaging company and they used Esko software in their prepress. This Honours Class was the ultimate opportunity to discover different solutions for common issues in packaging."
Haike Van den Bulcke, also a Belgian student, adds, “We already had a very good technical background from the lessons at school, but the Honours Class gives us the opportunity to work hands-on with the software. I also got a better view of what packaging really is. Packaging will become even more important over time, and companies are paying more attention to it. This Honours Class was a unique experience that allowed me to get in contact with one of the leading companies in this industry. It gave us the opportunity to meet the people who work with these tools and programs every day and learn from their real live experiences! You have to keep in mind so many things and taking into account different rules – I’ve learnt a lot!”
"It was a great international event," concludes De Roeck. "The Honours Class is an eye opener as it gives the students the opportunity to develop new skills and to get to know the company better. It is a stepping stone towards a professional career. Everyone benefits! Students enjoy the unique experience and it presents job opportunities; Esko is able to share knowledge with future employees; and Artevelde enjoys the exchange of knowledge and expertise, expanding the value of its programs.”