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What Can You Expect from the TAGA Annual Technical Conference?
For someone who has never been to the TAGA Annual Technical Conference, the thought of attending might seem a little daunting. Organized by PIA’s Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA) group, the conference provides the opportunity for members to learn about the latest industry advances and those of related fields, as well as brainstorm with other experts about solving problems and roadblocks in order to move our industry forward. Members come to the Annual Technical Conference from all over the world and from all facets of the graphic arts industry.
To give you a better understanding about what you can expect at your first TAGA Annual Technical Conference, we spoke with Birgit Plautz, TAGA Board Member, Manager of Technical Services at GMG Americas, and longtime conference attendee.
PIA: Thanks for speaking with us Birgit. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at GMG Americas?
BP: Here at GMG Americas I oversee our support and service department as Manager of Technical Services. This means leading a great team of help desk and field engineers throughout the Americas. Typically I also support our sales team on trade shows, work with our customers and channel partners, and interface with the printing industry through various organizations, technical committees, and conferences.
PIA: Sounds like you don’t have a problem staying busy! How did you first learn about the TAGA Annual Technical Conference?
BP: I met the former Managing Director, Dr. Mark Bohan, at the Color Management Conference in Phoenix in 2011. I was new in the role and in the country at that time, and this was my first conference in the United States. We ended up having a longer conversation about conferences in our industry, which is when he suggested I should participate at TAGA.
PIA: So you’ve had other experiences with PIA conferences. That’s interesting. What was your first experience at the TAGA Annual Technical conference like?
BP: That’s actually a quite funny story. I got a call on a Friday afternoon from my German colleague Juergen Seitz. He was supposed to speak at TAGA in Albuquerque last year. He said he couldn’t go, due to a strike at the airline, asking me to sub for him on Sunday. So, I got on a plane and learned the presentation a day before my speaking slot. Luckily I was familiar with the topic, so I just had to learn how to convey his intention. The best thing about it was that it got me to go to the conference, even though I usually like a little bit more lead time. It turned out that it was actually the most interesting conference I’ve been to so far—at least when you’re a little bit of a color nerd as I am. Nearly every presentation was exactly the right mix of technical depth without it being too dry. Also, I was impressed by the number of university students and their presented work.
PIA: That’s what’s great about the industry. Whether you’re a color nerd or an offset nerd, we all can learn from each other. What do you think was the most beneficial part about attending the TAGA Annual Technical conference?
BP: TAGA is really a place where the smart heads of the current and the future industry come together and exchange their ideas—without the usual strong commercial influence found in other events. I could learn a lot in many sessions, but also in the time between the presentations, I was able to speak with the best scientific and technical minds in our industry. In my role as a manager, I’m also always looking for new young talent, which I believe can be found there the easiest because of the attendance by university students.
PIA: The TAGA Annual Technical Conference has so much to offer everyone in the industry. What advice would you give for someone planning on attending the conference for their first time?
BP: Prepare yourself for new ideas, be open-minded, and attend sessions which you might think are not related to your field—that’s where the greatest moments usually come from. Also, definitely take some time to speak with the students and the speakers during the breaks or evenings. Moments are rare when you have the possibility to speak to people with hundreds of patents or the future decision makers of the industry at the same time.
A special thank-you to Birgit for speaking with us about the TAGA Annual Technical Conference! Are you ready to attend the 2016 event? Visit tagaatc.printing.org for more information about this year’s event and registration information. Hope to see you there!