RIT students win Canon design competition


Undergraduate students in Irma Abu-Jumah’s typography and page design course at Rochester Institute of Technology placed first in the Canon Solutions America — University Program Magalog Challenge this spring.  

They were among two schools and several teams that participated in the University Inkjet program, the company’s annual student design competition. It was the first time the RIT students participated in the national event. 

The winning design, a 24-page booklet, is being printed on one of Canon’s inkjet presses and will be considered as a print sample at Canon America’s Customer Innovation Center. 

“The students were amazing,” Abu-Jumah said. “They created beautiful layouts and combined all their resources utilizing the proper techniques, great images and original text. You can have this magazine displayed on any bookstand and it looks as good as any professional publication.”  

First-year students Christian Reilly, left, and Emi Knape review their winning design with faculty member Irma Abu-Jumah. With teammate Cecilia Savka, the student team won first place in the annual Canon University Program Design Challenge.

Students in the class were divided into teams and asked to create a fictional company or product. Over the course of the semester, they created a promotional “magalog” booklet — a high-end magazine filled with products and augmented reality elements to move potential customers to an online storefront.  

Class times included video workshops presented by Canon’s experts in the print, photo and design fields. In the area of visuals, Canon provided access to Getty Images for student use during the competition. Teams were graded on different parts of the project — cover, copy, image use, structure and project management steps, for example, throughout the semester until they were ready to put the different project elements together. 

“They knew that the most important thing about the project was to do it technically correct,” Abu-Jumah said. “The right way to use typography, color management, image manipulation — that was a big chunk of the project. To me, it was how well this was done, not how pretty it looked, and they accomplished it, actually exceeded in what they produced. It is beautiful, but there are standards required by the industry.” 

The winning design was more than pretty pictures on a page. 

“We had to choose a concept or product to sell, so we selected a ‘magalog,’ which is a magazine catalogue,” said Emi Knape, a first-year media arts and technology student from Cave Creek, Arizona. “We did different chunks throughout the semester.” 

Much of the work succeeded because as the team brainstormed ideas, they were able to add personal touches to a central, branded theme. 

“Everybody was open with their ideas, and with critiques or ways we could all improve,” said Christian Reilly, a first-year media arts and technology student from Sparta, New Jersey. “A lot of projects that we were doing were tech-based, smaller projects, and then this was thrown at us and it was 24 pages. I feel that it is a very realistic work experience with deadlines, and we needed to incorporate certain things, and of course, the exposure is phenomenal.” 

The media arts and technology program, based in RIT’s College of Engineering Technology requires two co-ops in a variety of work environments. Work from projects, such as the design challenge, can be added into student portfolios and shown during interviews for co-ops that begin the summer after students’ second year.  

“Something I always tell my students is, you might not be the photographer, you might not be the designer, but you can know which one is doing a good job, because you know what is the correct way to do the work. That is the role of a project manager,” Abu-Jumah said. “A whole world opened up for them with this project.”