By Kassie Charnley
Kelly Mccarthy and Greg DeGross have a few things in common. Both are juniors here at Western Michigan University studying Graphic and Printing Science. Both Mccarthy and DeGross have recently received scholarships and they will be competing in the Phoenix Challenge later this spring with a team of other students from WMU.
Greg DeGross was selected to apply for the J. Richard Troll Scholarship from the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters. He completed an application and wrote a one page essay in order to be considered for the scholarship.
“The association represents independent corrugated (cardboard producing) businesses and their suppliers,” DeGross said. “I was flown out to Salt Lake City for a couple days in October to attend the association’s annual meeting.”
Degross said that he was awarded a plaque and a check for $3,000 at the meeting.
“It was a great networking experience for me with companies within the industry,” he said.
Kelly Mccarthy, on the other hand, received first place honors at the 2012 Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge through the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA).
“I received a $1,500 monetary prize and a commemorative plaque,” Mccarthy said.
Mccarthy’s prototype for the challenge she participated in was for Totino’s Pizza Rolls On-The-Go Pouches.
“I received an email for the FPA that said the judges had found my flexible packaging solution to be a ‘great idea that extends the use of flexible packaging.’ I was excited and surprised to have received that email. There were a lot of creative ideas submitted and I didn’t really expect to win,” Mccarthy said.
Mccarthy shared that all of the prototype/bench samples submitted to the design challenge will be on display during the 2012 FPA Annual Meeting in the 2012 Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge Showcase.
“The judges made a suggestion to my sample, which was mentioned in the email from EPA, so I plan to improve the sample before the showcase,” Mccarthy said.
On top of their recent winnings and awards, Mccarthy and DeGross will also participate in the Phoenix Challenge in March. A team of students will be representing WMU in this flexographic printing competition. The other participants include: Hannah Brown, Nina Fiore, Andrea Grumbir, Chris Zenz, Jon Michael Spatafore, Kelsey Sheehan, and faculty advisor, Larry Ahleman. Five of the 11 students will present the products made by the team at the competition.
Mccarthy said that for this flexographic printing competition the team is to come up with two to four snack food items to be sold in collegiate school convenience stores.
“Our team has conducted research to choose what type of products we will create. We will design, print on a flexographic press, and fully create a tangible product that could be sold in convenience stores,” Mccarthy said. “Research, networking with print companies, and creating strong concepts are all a huge part of this competition.”
The team will be judged in four different areas during this completion: research, concept, graphics, and execution. “We will present our finished products in San Antonio at the Phoenix Challenge competition. We will also be competing at a booth competition where we will set up a booth, present our products, and network with other printing companies and schools,” Mccarthy said.
Mccarthy participated in last year’s Phoenix Challenge but did not go to the actual competition.
“Hannah and Nina (two of this year’s team captains) went on to the competition last year so they have some insight as to how we can do better this year, especially with what is expected of us for the presentation aspect of the competition,” Mccarthy said.
Both Mccarthy and DeGross are looking forward to participating in this year’s Phoenix Challenge with their fellow teammates. I am looking forward to presenting our hard work to the judges during the Phoenix Challenge. “This is my first time being on a team in a challenge and I hope to offer my technical skills and presentation skills to the team,” DeGross said.
“I’m really proud of how our team has worked together. Everyone is willing to throw out ideas and improve on other ideas. We have our student research done, and have narrowed our ideas to a few, like candy containers and possibly an energy drink,” Mccarthy said.
She shared that the team is working on designs and is contacting companies to help with the printing process for their products. The team is working on fundraisers such as selling office paper and a flexography seminar in the spring.
“Our team works really well together and we’re having a lot of fun with it too. I can’t wait to see what we come up with and how the competition goes in March,” Mccarthy said.