For the past five years, Exhibit Designers + Producers Association (EDPA) and affiliated sponsors have invested to promote exhibit design education at the EXHIBITOR2014 Show, held annually in Las Vegas. The EDPA University Affiliation Program works very closely with Bemidji State University’s Exhibit Design undergraduate degree and with SUNY/FIT Exhibition Design master’s degree programs.
Generous EDPA member sponsors and Exhibitor Media Group donate their time and money to the program’s success as well as assisting to provide a student pavilion exhibit at the EXHIBITOR2014. The exhibit is intended to build awareness about designer education in the exposition marketplace as well as to give students an opportunity to meet exhibit company owners and design directors to show portfolios and discuss internships opportunities and/or future employment.
For many of the students, this was their first experience at a tradeshow, let alone being in one of the world’s biggest tradeshow city. Seeing any show in its finished form with smiling exhibitors makes the exhibit designs look easy to execute. We all know it’s not that easy!
“With this in mind, we wanted to provide a behind-the-scenes tour of the show floor the day before the show actually opens. With the hall still a mess, nervous exhibitors, scurrying installation labor and forklifts in high gear, the reality of an exhibit set up can be nerve racking,” said the tour guide, Larry Kulchawik of 3D Exhibits and past president of EDPA.
This year, 31 students and staff from Bemidji State and FIT participated. The tour began at the EXHIBITOR2014 show management office where Carol Fojtik, senior vice president, Hall-Erickson Inc., spoke about the steps in managing a tradeshow. Randy Acker, president and COO, Exhibitor Media Group, then welcomed the students and shared the philosophy and purpose for the EXHIBITOR2014.
The students were then guided to meet ten different kinds of exhibit service providers who shared their goals for the show and how they arrived at their exhibit design. For this brief moment, the students were the customers on the stage. There is no doubt that the students will need similar service provider contacts as their careers unfold. One thing was very obvious on this tour – all the exhibit service suppliers were noticeably passionate about what they do. Although each may have fumbled into this business in one way or another, each are proud of the skills accumulated in this not so secret anymore industry.
“The student experiences that are provided by many major EDPA exhibit suppliers really deliver firsthand knowledge and resources that are critical to our student’s future success. A big thank you to EDPA and Exhibitor Media Group!” remarked Dr. Bonnie Higgins, director of exhibit design, Bemidji State University.
“I am always amazed at the level of generosity of the folks on the show floor as they tour the students and expand their understanding of the tradeshow industry. EDPA’s membership and Exhibitor Media Group consistency demonstrate that they are not only the go-to sources for the best quality industry practices, but are the very top of the class when it comes to nurturing the next generation of exhibit designers.” stated Professor Brenda Cowan, exhibition design program chairperson, SUNY/FIT.