Students ‘learn by doing’ in production of Test Targets publication

School of Media students Chandramohan Setharamiah Srinivasaraju, left, and Tommy Hodgson, middle, receive instructions for Test Targets 11 presswork from a professional at TBN Direct.

As part of School of Media Sciences (SMS) administrative chair Bruce Myers’ Lithographic Process class, students produced a new edition of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Test Targets publication in the spring of 2018.

Each student enrolled in the class wrote a technical article and collected the images, as well as gathered articles from other SMS majors at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Students enrolled in the course included Cole Janssen, David Pflanz, Tommy Hodgson and Victoria Wildow, from SMS’ media arts and technology bachelor of science program. SMS graduate student Chandramohan Setharamiah Srinivasaraju attended many of the classes and completed projects as part of an independent study. Fellow SMS graduate student Nuanjan Narakornpijit and photographic sciences undergraduate student Nhung Thuy “Paige” Pham contributed much of the content, as well.

Stack of booklets

Test Targets 11 ready to be trimmed at Quality Bindery in Buffalo, N.Y.

Test Targets was first published in 2002 under the direction of Robert Chung, who is now professor emeritus in SMS, and retired professor Franz Sigg. Chung wrote the foreword for the current edition, and also advised one of the graduate student submissions.

Prior to the current edition, the last Test Targets was released in 2011. Chung and Sigg set the bar high with previous Test Targets, publishing anticipated and often groundbreaking research, making the publications sought-after collectors’ items. 

Test Targets 11 is true to previous editions in that, in the words of Chung, “Test Targets has been a journey of learning by doing.” Like previous editions, the current one will also be utilized as a teaching tool in future SMS classes.

Students in the Lithographic Process class completed the bulk of the article submissions and worked hands-on with each stage of production. The current edition is perhaps a bit more whimsical than prior Test Targets — it includes an origami fortune teller that readers can cut out and fold.

While the students ran the offset press for the cover, the production of the bulk of the edition was completed at TBN Direct — a division of The Buffalo News— which worked with students throughout the production. Further, TBN Direct opened its doors for students to be on the shop floor when the job was imaged on their plate setters and ran on their eight-color Heidelberg press. 

Students standing in a warehouse
Students observe the plates being mounted for the Test Targets 11 publication, printed on the eight color Heidelberg Perfecter at TBN Direct.

While there, students also learned about the job workflow, imposition and proofing cycles. One week later, the students visited Quality Bindery in Buffalo to oversee the binding and trimming of the edition. 

This level of exposure was largely made possible by RIT alumnus Bryan Carr, formerly ofThe Buffalo News. The production at TBN Direct was under the supervision of Jennifer Smigielski, and the work at the bindery was under the supervision of Kathleen Hartmans.


SMS faculty were invited to participate, and Roger K. Fawcett Endowed Professor Irma Abu-Jumah stepped up to help with the layout and page composition. Chris Bondy, Gannet Endowed Professor, and Elena Fedorovskaya, Paul and Louise Miller Endowed Professor, advised student submissions, while Barbara Birkett, interim associate dean, volunteered to edit many of the technical articles. 

Mark Soman of RIT’s Print and Postal Hub served as the director of offset lithography and graciously allowed students to work hands-on with the Presstek DI offset press to print the cover. Mary Ellen Gauntlet, director of the Print and Postal Hub, has been a longtime supporter of the work of SMS, and was an enthusiastic supporter for this project.

Other students who contributing technical articles included graduate student Sanyukta Sanjay Hiremath and undergraduate students Alexander Greenhalgh, Alexander Solomon, Connor Maskell and Kaitie Spaude.

Plans are being made to make Test Targets span several classes as SMS continues to evolve while providing meaningful curricula and research.

Students posing
School of Media Sciences students pose with a statue of hockey great Tim Horton outside of TBN Direct. Standing from Left: Cole Janssen, David Pflanz, Tommy Hodgson, Chandramohan Setharamiah Srinivasaraju, Nicole Saunders and Victoria Wildow. Seated from left: Nuanjan Narakornpijit, Nhung Thuy “Paige” Pham and Victoria Wildow.

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