Reston, VA— The Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) announces the winners of the GAERF 2016 Student Design Competition from among this year’s record 400-plus entries.  The annual contest, now in its eighth year, and themed for 2016 “Infograph It!”, challenged students from secondary and post-secondary institutions to design and create an engaging printed item that incorporates an infographic—a graphic design that presents complex information quickly and clearly—on a topic of their choice.

An independent panel of industry expert judges chose six winners from among the entries received—three at the secondary school level and three at the post-secondary school level.

Winners at the secondary school level were:

  • 1st Place:  Kara Lester, Mingo Central High School, Delbarton, WV (Instructor:  Doug Martin)
  • 2nd Place:  Lathan Gordon, Atlee High School, Mechanicsville, VA (Instructor: Erik Leise)
  • 3rd Place:  Asa Jean Soriano, Quincy High School, Quincy, MA  (Instructor:  Aileen McGinnity)       

Winners at the post-secondary school level were:

  • 1st Place:  Cameron Bones, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA (Instructor:  Daria Matza)
  • 2nd Place:  Kelli Chollar, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA (Instructor: Colleen Twomey)
  • 3rd Place:  Katelyn Vincent, SOWELA Technical Community College, Lake Charles, LA (Instructor:  Darrell Buck)

First place winners and their instructors will each receive a two-day all-inclusive paid trip to attend GRAPH EXPO 16 in Orlando, FL.  In addition, first place winners will be presented with $2,000 checks during GRAPH EXPO’s Career Awareness Day on Wednesday, September 28, 2016. The second place winners will each be awarded $1,500, and the third place winners will each receive $1,000.

Speaking out about the merits of GAERF’s annual student design competition, “In our age of information overload, journalism students need the skills and tools to create pieces that cut through the clutter and clearly communicate complex information and ideas.  Thanks to the incentives offered by the GAERF infographic contest, my students had an extra push to refine their compelling work. It was a motivation beyond a grade which helped them create the best work I’ve seen since I started teaching my Visual Communication for the Mass Media course,” stated Daria Matza, Instructor, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA.

Equally pleased with the learning opportunity that the competition provided, and also recognizing her student’s achievement in garnering second place in the post-secondary school category, “It made my day!”, said Colleen Larkin Twomey, Assistant Professor, Cal Poly State University, Graphic Communication Department, San Luis Obispo, CA.  “More importantly,” she continued, “I so enjoy adding the student competitions to my class curriculum, the students have more ‘skin in the game’.  The class I assigned to this competition was my prepress class, which is not necessarily a design class, but I wanted them to experience the competition with their creative freedom.  I’m so delighted Kelli placed, she’s an absolutely wonderful young lady. Thank you again for taking keen interest in the brilliant young minds that are soon to be entering our industry."

“GAERF is proud to continue its commitment to supporting education initiatives by encouraging creativity and self-expression in students through the art of design and production,” said GAERF President Thayer Long. “This year’s competition received a record 403 entries, surpassing the previous mark of 287 set in 2015.  We are already planning for next year’s Student Design Competition when GAERF will again recognize our best and brightest students, as well as the significant commitment of their instructors.”

All student entries will be featured in a special display within GRAPH EXPO 16’s Education Main Street, and showcased on the graphicCOMMcentral website:

The Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation was created in 1983 by the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) three founding partners: Idealliance (formerly Epicomm), NPES and Printing Industries of America.   GAERF’s mission is to develop the next generation workforce for the graphic arts industry.  GAERF is managed and directed by NPES from their headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

About Education Main Street
Printing industry professionals from around the world will convene September 25 – 28, 2016, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL to attend GRAPH EXPO 16, where the world’s Graphic Communications Industry will convene to rejuvenate, energize and find the trending business solutions and exciting new profit opportunities. The show’s Education Main Street pavilion is where representatives from colleges, universities and educational organizations will provide information on curriculum offerings, scholarships, and internships.

About GASC
The Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) is the producer of GRAPH EXPO and PRINT, premier events for the commercial, package printing and converting industry. GASC is owned by Idealliance (formerly Epicomm), NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies (NPES), and the Printing Industries of America. GASC is located at 1899 Preston White Drive, Reston, VA, 20191 USA, telephone: 703/264-7200, fax: 703/620-9187, e-mail: