The students and lecturers Phil Hughes and Clive Davies at Robe HQ in Valasské Mezirici
Czech Republic - Robe welcomed 13 students and two lecturers - Phil Hughes and Clive Davies - from the University of South Wales, Glamorgan, to its HQ and factory in Valasské Mezirici, Czech Republic, all from the BSc Honours Lighting Design & Technology and Live Event Technology courses.

The trip was co-ordinated by Robe UK's sales director Ian W Brown with USW course leader Stuart Green, and it has become an annual date on the calendar. As usual, it was also completely over-subscribed, so the number of applicants had to be whittled down to those who would be likely to benefit the most.

Ian, whose relationship with the university started a few years ago, commented, "Both courses produce a high proportion of graduates who progress on to very successful industry careers - and that is what first prompted me to look further.

"The courses are based on equipping future professionals with the practical skills needed and realistic expectations of what working in entertainment technology is all about ... and is structured so that they can learn a broad-based range of skills from the ground up."

As well as technical and creative experience, course accomplishments also include vital life/work, savviness, being a good communicator and acquiring a degree of 'political' deftness in learning to deal with people as well as curved-ball scenarios that are part of everyday life in the rough-and-tumble world of 'the industry'.

Their two full-on days in the Czech Republic included a tour of Robe's factory and manufacturing facilities including PCB company Dioflex and sister brand and LED manufacturer Anolis, time in the demo theatre complete with new lightshow - and naturally, they were treated to some of that famous Czech hospitality!

Claire Pinkney, second year Lighting Design & Technology, commented, "The lightshow is awesome. I had no idea how in depth and involved the process of manufacturing moving lights is - so it's been a real eye-opener and a really inspiring experience."

Will Drake, finalist in Live Event Technology, said, "I've spent a lot of time working with moving lights, so to see how the products are designed and produced and meet the people behind Robe is really amazing. The organisation is very impressive - the people are extremely accessible and the environment is calm and super-well organised."

Kayleigh Parker, second year Live Event Technology commented, "I was well impressed with the relationship between Josef (Robe CEO Josef Valchar) and his staff and how the employees all feel part of the company and that they are sharing in a common goal of which everyone is proud. The company structure generally is very solid and built on respect and commitment."

Ian also used the opportunity do a bit of talent spotting for his 2015 PLASA Associate project. Each year, six of the most promising students get the chance to work with Team Robe on the busy exhibition stand at the PLASA trade show in London in the autumn, which is a great experience for them to hone their people skills, boost their contacts and embrace the Robe family.

Phil Hughes, senior lecturer at University of South Wales sums up, "Developing this working relationship with Robe has been really invaluable. It offers real-life insights into the business as well as an opportunity to see all the processes involved in developing and marketing innovative, world leading products."

(Jim Evans)

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