Students from Springfield Technical Community College’s Graphic Communications & Photography department experienced the complete web printing process during a tour of the Quad Graphics printing facility in East Longmeadow.

Plant manager Marc Zajchowski and production manager Matt Talbot from Quad Graphics conducted the tour of the web-printing plant. Students experienced the operation of web printing presses, pre-press and printing plate production and post printing services.

“It’s so fascinating to see how much goes into making these prints,” said STCC student Jeslyn Zheng. “Most people take them for granted and see them as just another piece of paper but Quad Graphics has given me a newfound sense of respect for the production process and what’s necessary to get that piece of paper in my hand.”

Student Helena Rau added, “It was so cool to see how colors are reproduced on pamphlets and how much work and people goes into printing.”

 The tour on Oct. 25 was initiated by Print Across America as part of the annual International Printing Week celebration. Print Across America is a national organization recently established to promote the printing industry and its associated services.

Lara Sharp, Dean of the School of STEM, said STCC emphasizes hands-on learning and helps students land internships or positions in the industry.

“We are excited our students had the opportunity to tour a printing facility and get a closeup view of the printing process,” Sharp said. “We have industry partners that reach out to us for qualified job candidates. STCC has excellent technical arts and design programs that prepare students for positions.”

The East Longmeadow plant is one of 45 locations Quad Graphics operates worldwide. The company provides full marketing services including market research, graphic design and production, e-commerce, printing, and fulfillment. Quad Graphics in East Longmeadow specializes in web printing of grocery circulars for a variety of grocery chains throughout New England.

STCC professor Matt Kriftcher of the Graphic Communications & Photography Department coordinated the plant tour.

“Our students experienced the complete web printing process including pre-press make ready, printing plate processing, press make ready, printing and shipping,” Kriftcher said. “The entire process was incredible, and the students had the opportunity to get some hands-on experience. The entire staff at Quad Graphics was extremely supportive and enjoyed teaching our students about the operation.”

The Graphic Communications & Photography department, which is part of the Technical Arts and Design department, prepares students for careers in design and photography. Students in the two-year associate degree program can choose digital photography, graphic design or web and advertising design. One-year certificate programs also are available in digital photography, digital publishing and graphic arts entrepreneurial.

Regional Director Steve Salmiery, who traveled to the plant from Saratoga, N.Y., for the event, presented a PowerPoint program highlighting the web printing process along with regional project manager Jody Harker who explained the details of how she manages coordination of art materials from a variety of clients and the scheduling required for “on-time” production.

Students were treated to lunch and given several premium items as memorabilia of the day.

“We need to have more events like this,” Kriftcher said. “There’s nothing like practical experience to get the students excited about their future in the graphics industry.”

One STCC student who toured the facility said, “The biggest benefit was just seeing the whole printing process in full and where your design ends up going to be printed. It also gives you an appreciation of this whole other side of the graphic design realm which is the printing industry. It also brought some light to some of my print classes. We could see the technology in person and how the whole production system works.”

(Photography by Wendy McCann, Adjunct Professor, Graphics Communications & Photography, STCC.)