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|Putting the "D" back in EDPA|
|Sunday, May 31 2009 13:02|
The meetings and convention industry contributes $100 billion to the U.S. economy. It is ranked no. 22 in contribution to the gross national product (GNP), ranking higher than agriculture and the printing industry, yet only a minuscule of those employed were trained or intended to be a part of this industry.
The portion of the exposition industry dedicated to exhibit design and associated services is $26 billion.
Those who are trained and experienced in tradeshow marketing will be the "neurosurgeons" of the general field of marketing. Higher levels of training and education in the field of tradeshow marketing will serve to add credibility to its value and the investments that companies will make to support it.
The Exhibit Designers and Producers Association (EDPA) has believed that its members are not only in the business of building and servicing exhibits but in the business of face-to-face marketing through tradeshows to increase sales opportunities for the companies we serve. The skills required for tradeshow marketing go way beyond the structure itself. The structure is only a tool, but if the tools are designed and used correctly, they can deliver results beyond expectation.
In 2003, Norman Friedrich from Octanorm USA, was president of EDPA. All EDPA presidents serve a one-year term, so they are asked to pick an issue and stay focused to make a difference. Norm's issue was to put the "D" back into EDPA.
Prior to Friedrich's term, other EDPA presidents attempted to build on the design and education component of membership as well. A designer conference was created and executed in 1996 to 1999. A university undergraduate degree program in exhibit design was created at Drexel University and at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas but never jump-started. Both continue to teach individual courses but not in a degree program. Bemidji State University did create an undergraduate degree program in exhibit design that EDPA continues to support.
EDPA also created a Designer of the Year award that began in 2001 and an exhibit design contest for undergraduates that was created in 2000 and continues to this day.
Master of Arts degree program in Exhibition Design. Two past EDPA presidents, Friedrich, and I, lead an EDPA educational committee team initiative to support the program and build the courses to be taught in order to prepare the students for real world experiences. The program's first graduates were in 2003. For the past six years EDPA has continued to support the FIT program and the required eight-week internships before graduation. Adam Beckett from Derse Exhibits presently chairs the EDPA education committee to support the present success of the FIT program.
On May 11, FIT conducted their annual thesis presentation for the 2009 graduating students earning a Master of Arts degree in Exhibition Design. Nineteen students presented their thesis projects to volunteer experts in the field of exposition design. The student body came from all over the world to receive this unique training.
Judges were asked to listen, offer opinions and complete an evaluation form. Each student was given 15 to 20 minutes, one on one, with the judges. The day concluded with words of thanks from Jeff Provost, EDPA director, and a keynote address from Lee Skolnick, FAIA president and owner of a prominent Design firm in New York City.