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Sachin Virkar discusses about Print in Deutschland - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

21 October 2017

Sachin Virkar heads Simkraft Solutions and has recently become an ambassador of Hochschule der Medien (HdM) in India, a University in Stuttgart, where he studied print media management. HdM has announced a new bachelor of engineering degree in print media technologies for international students.

Technology in print is constantly undergoing change, getting better, which demands a stronger connection with print education and print management. “It’s a question of degree, and then some,” says Virkar in the Sunday Column

virkar2 Virkar: "Print Media Technologies is a wide-ranging programme which helps businesses to prosper globally"

He was 22 years old in 2001 when Sachin Virkar travelled to Konstanz city in Germany, where he passed by for the German language test, a pre-requisite if one had to apply to a school in Germany.

“Things were a little different,” says Virkar, whose parents, Medha and Shrinivas, head the family-owned Kaleido Graphics in Mumbai. “With my B.Com grades, some work experience, and language test I applied to the school and was lucky to get admission at Hochschule der Medien (HdM) (then known as Fachhochschule Stuttgart).”

It was his brush with Late Abhijit Pandit, a family and business friend, back in 1997, which encouraged Virkar to pursue his studies at the school. “He insisted that I learn the German language and study at HdM, one of the most respected printing schools even then.”

Virkar did what most of the students seeking education in Germany then could not. “The German language was always a big barrier that stopped Indian students from studying there,” says Virkar.

One of the things that we see in schools or colleges in India is that the labs are sacrosanct; students are not allowed to handle the instruments. Virkar, sharing his learning experience at Stuttgart, says, “We had easy access to the labs (printing, pre-press) and could work on the machines – project work or even voluntary working. This got us very close to technology/machines. We had regular excursion and industry interaction – which helped in networking. People from the industry visited the school regularly and conducted lectures – it gave us a closer insight of the practical side that learning just the theory.”

After completing his post-grad degree in Print Media Management (Wirtschaftingenieurwesen Druck), Virkar headed back to India, where he started his company, Simkraft Solutions, which specialises in pre-media services for the international, mainly European market. “Core competencies here is language skills as projects in all EU languages are carried out with communication in foreign languages,” says Virkar.

Virkal also introduced a state-of-the-art production standard at his family’s business, Kaleido Graphics, where he heads the technology.

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A new role
The Hochschule der Medien (HdM), a University of applied sciences in Stuttgart, Germany has announced a new bachelor of engineering degree in print media technologies for international students seeking an academic degree in media engineering, media production, corporate management and international business. The thrust, of course, will be print and packaging.

Virkar says, “Print Media Technologies is a wide-ranging programme which explores new technologies, research, creativity, problem-solving and corporate management helping businesses to prosper globally.”

The faculty of engineering is always a good bet, wherever you study. The reason: even the least lucrative engineering courses generate a return on investment in good time. This is what Virkar will promote as he dons the role of being the ambassador of HdM in India. “My role is to advise interested students and give them an idea of studying in Germany, what it entails and what the challenges are.”

Virkar will work with the recruitment and outreach team to lead and support the academic activities, and to help young people make a decision to study at Hochschule der Medien. “Print media technologies is a wide-ranging programme, which explores new technologies, research, creativity, problem-solving and corporate management helping businesses to prosper globally,” explains Virkar.

According to Virkar, HdM has invested Euro 8,000,000 in the new programme. It has installed a new HP Indigo 5-series press and has established a place where students can study the workflow of variable data printing. Together with HP Indigo the school has new post-press equipment for finishing and binding of digital print products. Installation of a new MBO K70 is expected soon. A laser cutter for laser engraving (paper and plastics) has been installed along with tubular bag machine. “This state-of-the-art infrastructure is one of its kind,” says Virkar.

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Focus areas
The HdM’s print media technologies course will run over a three and a half years in Stuttgart, Germany. The focus areas in the 40 months will comprise media engineering and technology, 3D printing, strategic problem solving, international management and law, product development, packaging printing, design and layout, cross-media applications just to name a few. “Print Media facilitates information exchange and cultural awareness,” explains Virkar.

He adds, “Students will experience an extraordinary expertise in the faculty, which is rich in experience.” Virkar cites Prof Jansen, the programme director has worked for 13 years in BASF, in the photopolymers (flexographic printing plates) with placement in Asia (Malaysia); Prof Scahschek was responsible for research at KBA before joining HdM; Prof  Weichmann brings in work experience from technical service at Manroland; and Prof Güttler headed the digital printing centre at Fraunhofer Institute, a research facility.

The HdM centre also features pre-media facilities involving the latest software and hardware technologies, and this is an area, which, Virkar says, is developing very fast, and India will be no exception to embracing it. “Online stores, AR, etc. are on the ride in India and so would be the need for qualified service providers.”

Besides, the HdM’s apprentice programme aims at securing and strengthening the position of Baden-Wuerttemberg’s media industry over the long term – by encouraging and helping students to settle here and promoting cooperative ventures between the media industry and world-leading businesses. Virkar says, “We also help companies and organisations to recruit the graduates they need.”

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Patents galore at Baden- Wuerttemberg
Virkar is enthusiastic about Baden-Wuerttemberg, where HdM is located. “It’s the most innovative and affluent region of the European. With 138 patent applications per 100,000 inhabitants, Baden-Wuerttemberg is far above the German average of 59.”

The other HdM’s claims to fame are, that it is the only University of Applied Sciences fully dedicated to media studies and its numerous partnerships with universities across the world. “One particular programme, the German-Chinese Media Study, is a programme benefiting students from both China and Germany.”

A strong key point about the course, Virkar says, is, the fees are about one-fifth, of any other courses in the USA or UK. “It’s Euro 1,500 and with other costs, the expenses per semester for the course is approximately Euro 2,500,” says Virkar. This significantly reduces the cost burden on the students.

The eligibility criteria for the under-grad course is twelfth grade (12th grade), with proficiency in English.

In conclusion, Virkar says, technology in print is constantly undergoing change, getting better, which demands a stronger connection with print education and print management. “It’s a question of degree, and then some.”

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Cost break-up

Biannually Costs

Study Fees per semester (6 months)

Costs per semester (EUR)

Total costs
per semester
(EUR)

Student Services (compulsory for every student)

101.00*

 

Institutionalised Student Body (compulsory for every student)

15.00*

 

Administrational Costs (compulsory for every student)

70.00*

 

Tuition Fees

1,500.00*

 

Health Insurance (compulsory for every student)

480.00*

 

German Language Courses (6 hrs/week)

250.00*

 

*Costs are subject to change

 

2,416.00

 

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