Industry veterans inevitably find drupa a great educational experience, learning about cutting-edge new technologies that will be transforming the industry in the years—if not decades—to come. But imagine how enlightening an experience it would be if you are a graphic communication student. Wouldn’t that be the field trip of a lifetime?

That’s just what CalPoly Graphic Communication (GrC) is trying to make happen, with a crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $15,000 to send some deserving students to Düsseldorf to attend drupa 2024.

It was a project that started back in 2020, said CalPoly’s Colleen Twomey, Chair of the Graphic Communication Department—and we all know what happened to drupa 2020. “We had scraped together a small pocket of money from an endowment, and drupa got canceled, but that endowment money went appropriately to the next year’s scholarships. So it was put to a very good use,” she said.  

That was then, this is now. “Come 2024, we really, really got excited about the potential to send students again, because to my knowledge, we’ve never sent students to drupa,” she added. “We are still in school during drupa, and so this is an amazing curricular experience for students.”

The show can be overwhelming, so the students will be attending with specific projects in mind to help focus their attention. “They’re going to be tasked with finding multiple discipline specific solutions for various areas of our curriculum: print, packaging, prepress, UX, automation, etc.” said Twomey. Still, they won’t be on that short a leash and can explore whatever interests them—but they’ll have to write about it when they get back to the classroom. “The other thing we’re requiring them to do is a little bit of a postmortem,” said Twomey. “So they’re going to write down what they experienced and in the fall when we’re all back, they’re going to present to faculty and our board members what they learned and how they can bring it into the classroom and share with their peers.”

The goal is to send about a half-dozen students for five or six days. “We initially thought with $15,000, we could send four to five,” said Twomey, “which is probably doable with airfare. The more we raise on top of that, the more students we’d like to send. We’re about 70% to our goal, and are hoping to keep the momentum going with the industry who reads and values WTT.”

CalPoly also has two sister schools in Germany, one in Stuttgart and one in Munich. “And I’m hoping we can join the students together,” said Twomey.

For the past several years, virtually every company in the industry has talked about how the biggest problem they have is finding employees and finding the next generation of leadership. Programs like CalPoly’s GrC are exactly where we find these people—and a project like this can provide an invaluable educational experience. The crowdfunding project is open until November 30, and can be a great way to invest in the future of our industry.

For folks that want to contribute, but can’t donate online, they can write a check to “Cal Poly Foundation, GrC Drupa Fund” and mail it to Cal Poly, 1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA 93407. Email Colleen Twomey at [email protected] for more information.