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University of Central Missouri
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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
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Student Team Claims National Prize in Graphic Design Competition

Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 30, 2008) – A team of four UCM graphic arts technology management students earned a national first place in the Phoenix Challenge college competition at the Flexographic Technical Association’s annual conference and forum in Dallas.

Sarah Bates, Samantha Blackwell, Danielle Coakley and Nick Martin earned the top award in the Printing Excellence category of the competition with their winning entry for Mule Fuel, with the slogan “Fuel Your Inner Mule.” Teams of students from eight of the top university printing management programs in the U.S. and Canada competed at the conference.

Mule Fuel bottlecan
The aluminum bottlecan design for Mule Fuel earned a first place in national competition.

Year-long Competition Yields Winning Results

In the year-long competition, students were charged with developing a container for a healthy energy drink which would be custom-branded and sold regionally, yet compete on the shelf with the nationally marketed energy drinks currently on the market. The UCM students’ winning entry involved marketing research and testing, container research, product development, custom branding and design, and printing and application of the product label.

Teams were required to submit an executive summary of their proposed solution prior to the competition, and then presented their research and solution to the problem to a panel of judges at the conference. Judges were selected from different aspects of the industry, including design professionals, marketing professionals, printing managers, and business owners.

Design Printed in UCM Flexographic Technology Laboratory

The four color design for the Mule Fuel label included UCM black and UCM Pantone 200 red, opaque white, and a clear scuff resistant coating on a clear label substrate. The label was designed and printed by the student team in the UCM Flexographic Technology laboratory, and placed on a premium quality aluminum bottlecan, a new container solution currently gaining popularity in the market.

Success Under Pressure

 “I was so proud of our team,” said Mark Rankin, professor of graphic arts technology management and faculty advisor to the team.  “These students spent many late nights working on this project. Their poise and professionalism during the presentation at the conference was extraordinary. Their solution to the competition problem was unique and innovative, their research was comprehensive, their design had a very high degree of shelf appeal, their printing of the design was virtually flawless, and they absolutely nailed their presentation at the conference.  They really shined under the considerable pressure of the competition.”

Mulefuel team
Attending Phoenix Challenge college competition at the Flexographic Technical Association’s annual conference were, left to right, Danielle Coakley, Nick Martin, Sarah Bates and Mark Rankin, UCM professor of graphic arts technology management and faculty advisor for the team. Not pictured is team member Samantha Blackwell.