Students in the Central Texas College (CTC) Graphics and Printing program received some hands-on training as they joined forces with campus police to add new decals to all campus police vehicles. A new logo was added to both sides of a newly-purchased patrol car while badge decals were added to the other vehicles.

Joseph Barragan, chief of campus police, approached the graphics and printing department about the collaborative effort. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen relationships between the police department and our CTC family which includes students,” Barragan said. “When we purchased a new patrol vehicle, I thought getting the students in the graphics department to detail the car was a great way to start building those bridges which is the most important thing to come out of this project.”

To maintain a unified look with the other patrol vehicles, students began the project by recreating the existing decals in Adobe Illustrator using the pen, shape, gradient and pathfinder tools. “We created the graphics by taking photos of the original cars and used them as templates to re-create the shapes and text from scratch,” said Bobbi Waddle, Graphics and Printing instructor. “We wanted to create something as close to the original as possible to maintain uniformity with the other vehicles. We had to make some adjustments since this car had a slightly different body shape and different exterior covers for keyholes and light fixtures.”

Once the new graphic was created, students printed a test sample then taped and measured the mock-ups to the vehicle. Additional sizing adjustments were then made to fit the car’s shape. “We were happy with the size and placement of the mock-ups. The students printed the final graphics on engineering-grade reflective film,” said Waddle. “Students then uploaded the file into our FlexiSign software and grouped pieces together to utilize space and save on material.”

After printing, the graphics were laid to dry for 24 to 48 hours. The students then weeded out the excess material off the backing, applied masking tape to the material before transferring the material to the final placement on the vehicle. “For the application, the students temporarily placed the decals in position on the vehicle using masking tape,” said Waddle. “Once the students were happy with the placement, they cleaned the area with alcohol to remove any debris and oil particles off of the surface of the car, peeled the backing off and applied the graphics to the car using a small squeegee. After the decal was securely pressed in place, the top layer of masking tape was peeled to reveal the finished decal.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the final result,” said Sergeant Robert Taylor, who will be behind the wheel of the newly-decorated patrol car, said, “It makes perfect sense for the students who are being trained to do this particular work be involved in the production. As a result, the campus police department not only has a nice-looking vehicle and the students gained real-world experience.”