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Each year, the day before EXHIBITORLIVE officially opens its doors, EDPA provides a guided tour of the show floor as exhibitors are finishing up their booths to the students from Bemidji State University’s Exhibit Design undergraduate program and SUNY/FIT Exhibition Design master’s degree programs. This year, past EDPA president and ECN columnist Larry Kulchawik led 14 grad students from FIT and 16 undergrads from Bemidji State to meet with 10 different types of exhibit industry suppliers, who are all EDPA members and supporters of the program.

The tour included meeting Derse’s Russ Fowler, Octanorm North America President Norm Friedrich, DS&L Lighting President Rob Cohen, Brumark’s Dave Walens, beMatrix President Robert Laarhoven, Coastal International’s Mike Boone, PRG’s Rodney Brannon, Live Marketing’s Diane Ament, Freeman Design Director Michael DeBord, Czarnowski’s Dillon Nagle and IFES Director Uta Goretzky.

According to Christina Lyons, asst. professor/chairperson of FIT’s Graduate Exhibition & Experience Design, “The students were thrilled! They soaked up every minute, and were so thankful to all the supporters that assisted in their attendance. They certainly understood the value of what they were able to experience and that they are being introduced ​​to an exciting and welcoming industry–full of opportunity. The industry connections made that week resulted in internships and connections that will last beyond graduation. Many students were able to meet their mentors for the first time in person and actually walk and study the show floor with their mentors from the EDPA mentorship program. Students were also able to see alumni of the FIT program, presenting their designs on the tour.”

She adds that “for many it was their first time in Las Vegas and for some their first time at a tradeshow of this magnitude. They’re never quite sure what to expect, but once they dodge the forklifts and weave through set up materials—the energy they see on the show floor a day before opening is infectious and certainly sparks excitement in each student. Students are able to hear directly from firm owners and designers describing their process and design intent as well as learn about set up techniques, fabrication feats and sometimes even hear a few install war stories. While walking and studying the designs and interactions on the show room floor throughout the show students have a much deeper knowledge and appreciation of all that goes in to the finished design having had this behind the scenes glimpse before the show opens.”

Lyons adds that “We are deeply thankful for the time and special care that Larry puts in to creating this tour each year. Each firm owner and designer sets aside time for us during an extremely hectic and busy day—I hope that all who contribute to this tour know the value of what they do for the students, through each tour stop and each connection a passion for the industry is ignited in the students—it is an invaluable opportunity and students carry what they hear and learn with them well beyond graduation.”

For more info, visit www.fitnyc.edu/exhibition-design/ or www.bemidjistate.edu/academics/departments/technology-art-design/programs/exhibit-design/.

This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Exhibit City News, p. 44. For more pictures and original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/may-jun_ecn2018 

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