History of The Applied Digital Media &
Printing Program at RCC


1921, four vocational printing class​es were offered: elementary, advanced composing, designing, and machine composing.  An academic course about the history of printing was also offered.  Throughout the 1930s only auto mechanics, machine shop, mill cabinet, and printing were offered.


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​​1953, the Graphics Technology department moved into Poly High’s old Auto Tech building on what is now called the Riverside City Campus.  At that time, a one-year college Discipline in vocational printing was developed expanding the program to six courses including basic and advanced graphic arts, typography, and vocational, commercial, and newspaper printing.


1961, the name of the program was changed to Graphic Arts and was part of the Trade and Industries Division, which included Business Education, Computer Information Systems, and all Applied Technologies (Welding, Auto Tech, Electronics and the Machine Shop.)  1978 brought another name change, Graphics Technology to the Discipline and the division name changed to Applied Technology.  The Home Economics Discipline was deleted from the division and Early Childhood Studies, Computer Information Systems, and Business Education became their own divisions.


1970s, the Graphics Technology discipline started to produce the school newspaper and evolved into a full printing process called photo-offset lithography.  This brought more curriculum revisions and evening courses that were offered as “extended day” classes.  Photo-offset lithography became the major graphic communication process in the United States and with the growth of graphic communications. An average of 250 to 300 students attended per semester.  Along with the growth in popularity there have been many technological changes, which continue within the industry and make graphic communication a viable entity.

    Class lectures were held on the second floor of Technology B in classrooms that are now labeled 201 and 203.  The equipment was located in the lower level classrooms in the same building.  The hallway divided the two classrooms.  The downstairs classroom (designated downstairs because of the 5 stairs that enter into the lower level room) held most of the heavy equipment.  The upstairs classroom contained 25 paste-up tables, 1 small lecture room and faculty offices.

    Significant changes to printing followed, by introducing the Linotype type caster, which changed the way type was set.  This period of time was known as “Hot Type Composition” where type was cast from lead.  The downstairs area in TECHB supported most of the heavy equipment, which consisted of a Linotype type caster, an Intertype, California type cases, Challenge Platen press and cutter, Heidelberg Letterpress, Heidelberg KORD press, and small pieces of bindery equipment.  With the addition of three small duplicator presses, some light tables and the 20ft Brown darkroom camera, the downstairs was getting crowded.

    The letterpress was traded for a larger Heidelberg SORK press, which allowed the school football program to be printed.  Cold type composition was the new technology of the time.  A Verityper and rub on letters were used for headlines, typewriters for body text, clipart or hand-drawn illustrations supplied the art.  This process was slow and required great patience.  A small darkroom for film processing was added to the upstairs, for PMT processing.


1981, the program had three full-time instructors and two adjunct faculty, which grew to 11 part-time faculty by the late 80s.  This was also a time of partnerships with industry and many changes in the program.

    3M Corporation started a new education program and worked closely with RCC’s graphics department.  They donated three ABDick duplicator presses and a gallery stat camera for the small upstairs darkroom.  The downstairs darkroom Brown camera was replaced with a new Acti camera that was purchased.

    Heidelberg Corporation leased a 4/color GTO press with a CPC 1 and CPC 3 unit. The lease agreement was for 5 years, maintenance was paid on the press and the buyout was $1.00 at the end of the lease.

    Kodak Corporation donated film and plate supplies, leased a $15,000.00 film processor for a maintenance agreement, sponsored seminars and scholarships.

   Compugraphic Corporation’s Vice President had been a student of the program and felt strongly about giving back to education.  He donated 4 Compugraphic typesetting computers, a ruling computer, and a film processor.  The department became the Inland Empire equipment showcase and seminar center for Compugraphic Corporation.  This was the first time computer typesetting was offered.

    Many changes took place during this time; the back part of the upstairs room became the new typesetting area with a small lecture room adjacent to it.  The small darkroom was rearranged for the new stat camera, and 25 paste-up tables were still used for layout copy. The downstairs wall was built to create a clean room by separating the pre-press from the press area.  With a grant, new equipment was added; 25 light tables, 2 plate makers replaced the old carbon arc machines, the guillotine cutter (safety issue) was replaced with a Polar cutter, a plate processor replaced hand developing, a refurbished 2 place saddle stitcher replaced the single stitcher, and a drill press filled the downstairs area.

    Quick printing became one of the fastest growing industries in the 80s.  With 3M’s help, “Tiger Instant Press” was created to simulate a quick printing business.  New curriculum was developed and students staffed the small shop.  It became an internship program giving the students industry experience in running an instant print shop before graduating.


1990’s, four Apple computers replaced the Compugraphic equipment and the small upstairs lecture room became an Apple showroom and seminar location.  Since this was an IBM campus, it took many years to convince the administration that the Apple computer was the industry standard for graphics.  This one small classroom grew into three digital media labs with 80 state–of–the–art computers. The graphics program reintroduces Vocation Industrial Clubs (VICA) (Later known as SkillsUSA) into the program.


2000, Multimedia was added to the Graphics Technology program. Working with Art, Photography, and Telecom (FTV), curriculum was revised to include new certificate patterns: Basic Graphic Design, Basic Multimedia Design, Basic Electronic Prepress and the Associate of Science Degree in Graphics Technology.

Emerging technologies resulted in the phasing out of the darkrooms, manual stripping, and platemaking.  The result was a functioning digital workflow laboratory.


2007, Funding for new equipment, professional development and community outreach has always been a concern. Transitioning from analog to digital media and staying current with software applications has added substantially to the cost of the program.  The Graphics program submitted and shared several grants in conjunction with Telecom (FTV), Art, and Photography to enable the faculty and the program to stay current with industry standards by pooling resources.  As a result, a new Fuji computer-to-plate system was installed in 2007, closing the loop for students in a true digital workflow.


2008,  In 2008, Graphics Technology became Applied Digital Media & Printing, and the program was PrintED accredited by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF), being the only college in California with this distinction. In June, 2008, Mayda Salas won the SkillsUSA gold medal in the nation in Graphic Communications. Her prize included a new Heidelberg Printmaster two-color offset press which was added to the program.


2012,  Iris Calderon, an RCC graphics student, won first place in the nation in the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation design contest.​

2013, Nathan Ribelin (Advertising Design) and Jovie Camarce (Graphic Communication) won gold medals at the national SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City, MO.


 click the camera to see some photos