GraphEXPO 2012

Day 1-October 6, 2012
We arrived in Chicago today. It was too cold for my taste, but the city was beautiful and the fall leaves were an amazing sight. I spent most of my time the first day recuperating from midterms and term projects, and trying to stay warm. The show starts on Oct. 7th.

Day 2-October 7, 2012
Today was Day #1 of GraphEXPO 2012! I made a lot of new contacts, and spent a lot of time collecting print samples to show my freshmen kids what they can do with industry. I loved the Komori booth; they had some amazing print samples on foil covered stock, as well as the Heidelberg booth; they had the 6-color Speedmaster 52 Anicolor out, and it was amazing to watch. I went and spoke to EDSF and PGSF and thanked them for their scholarship support over the years, and got a picture with Ms. Bernie Eckert, the PGSF scholarship contact. They were all really nice, and I felt it would be a good gesture to go thank them in person. I also spoke to the GAERF booth, and thanked them for their support of SkillsUSA over the years, and picked up some information about scholarships and industry for my freshmen. I made a lot of new contacts as well, and they were all amazed at my accomplishments as one of the youngest people there from industry. When I explained to them that I was representing Clemson University and the SkillsUSA WorldSkills Team, a lot of them would ask me my age, and when I responded with "20," their response was always, "Wow! I can't believe all you've accomplished so young!" It was an amazing experience. Log: 12:00pm-5:00pm, 5 hours

Day 3-October 8, 2012
Today was Day #2 of GraphEXPO. I spent the morning in the Clemson University booth, promoting our Graphic Communications department. I also spoke to the rep from Chowan University, he was a really nice guy, and very supportive. We all met for the Heidelberg promotional picture at noon, then I proceeded to check out the Anicolor press more, and spoke to a couple of the guys that were our press techs at SkillsUSA nationals, that were working at the Heidelberg booth. I also went to the Baum booth, and met with my bindery judge from SkillsUSA nationals. I then went to the EFI booth, and sat through a thirty minute tutorial on how Fiery Seequence Compose/Impose software works, because it is a software I am not familiar with and we will be using it at WorldSkills. When I explained to him what I was asking for, he gave me some great hints, and showed me where to go online for brief tutorials on how the software works and some practice documents. Afterwards, I met with Dr. Klarecki, from Ferris State University, who is my WorldSkills advisor, and he gave me some information on what I need to be going over for the competition, as well as his efforts to get me into Heidelberg's training center in Kennesaw for a few weeks next semester. I then proceeded to the PIA booth, where I met with Mr. Jim Workman, my judge from SkillsUSA 
nationals on the Sheetfed Offset Training Simulator, who gave me some tips on what to go over as well as information on when I can access the software and projects from WorldSkills London for practice. Overall, it was a very successful and productive day. Log: 10:00am-5:00pm, 7 hours

Notes on the experience:
I enjoyed the time I got to spend at GraphEXPO, and I wish I could have spent more time there. I knew a lot of the representatives from industry that were there, and saw at least one person from every judging area for SkillsUSA nationals. I also got to learn a lot more about my competition for WorldSkills. The whole experience made me really want to start a SkillsUSA chapter at Clemson. I was really glad that all of the reps for the companies actually spoke to me, even as a student, because from what I've heard, a lot of the other students did not get the same treatment that I did. However, I have been in industry longer than they have, even though they don't see it because I'm still so new to Clemson's program. Overall, I enjoyed myself, and I can't wait to go back next year, hopefully with a WorldSkills medal under my belt.

Log: 12:00pm-5:00pm Day 2, 5 hours; 10:00am-4:00pm Day 3, 6 hours.