Expo takes you to test
Mar 1, 1996 12:00 PM, By R. David Read
This January, the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) began regional training courses to prepare prospective applicants for the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) examinations. These examinations will certify successful applicants in the field of low-voltage electronic communications systems, a subfield of audio systems.
Initially three courses were introduced in Fullerton, CA, Dallas and the Washington, DC, area. Interest and response to date has been strong. A number of systems contractors and their employees have expressed interest in participating and have signed on to the concept of certification as a means of enhancing the credibility of their organizations and advancing their careers. As of this writing, more than 325 information packets have been sent out. Other regional courses will be scheduled during the balance of 1996 and into 1997.
During NSCA's annual convention in St. Louis this May, four NICET-related pre-expo courses will be offered. These will be held on Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11, at the St. Louis Convention Center. These four courses are:
Introduction to audio systems: A nontechnical, nonmathematical overview of the conditions and components that compose and influence sound-reinforcement systems. This session will begin at the listener's ear, consider the listening environment and trace the audio chain backward from the loudspeaker to the source. How equipment specifications influence system performance will be emphasized. This session is aimed at those who are relatively new to sound-reinforcement systems and want to learn more.
Audio engineering technology I: This two-day session will present information anyone taking the NICET level I test must know. This session is aimed at technicians, installers and design personnel in the sound and communication industry with entry-level to two years of experience. Basic math, physics and fundamental concepts of sound and communication systems will be presented.
Audio engineering technology II: An obvious extension of the materials presented in AET-I, this session expands on the basic information and includes instruction on AC theory, geometry, trigonometry, acoustics and audio measurements. This session will be aimed at the applicant for NICET level II testing and assumes the attendee will have a minimum of two to five years of experience in the sound and communication industry.
Audio engineering technology III: This session introduces the essential training materials for preparation for testing at NICET level III. Work elements addressed in this session will include AC-circuit analysis - details such as resonance and impedance; transistor theory and circuit analysis; documentation and project maintenance; and advanced acoustical analysis and measurements. The level III applicant must have a minimum of five years of experience in the field and will likely be someone in the transition stage between being an experienced installer and one who aspires to advance to a field supervisor, test technician or project-manager position.
In addition to the these NICET-related audio courses, a pre-expo session on NICET level III fire-alarm technology will be presented. The National Fire and Burglar Alarm Association (NF&BAA) will present instructions intended for those individuals who wish to attain NF&BAA certification. A separate course on the elements of CCTV will address the needs of those who wish to prepare for the NICET level II work element on CCTV installations. Adding to this wide range of educational opportunities will be a two-day session on the elements of structured cabling. This session will be presented by BICSI, the recognized authority on the subject of communication systems wiring structures, and will cover the essentials of communication cabling in conformance with current EIA-TIA specifications.
Because the annual NSCA convention brings together a host of talent and resources, it was possible to put together a training faculty drawing on this diverse talent. This year's NICET-directed pre-expo educational program's faculty include some 24 highly respected members of the audio industry. These presenters have been drawn from some of the most respected and knowledgeable consulting firms, contractors and educators in our industry. Presenters include representatives from consulting firms such as Hoover and Keith, Houston; PMK, Dallas; Peak Audio, Boulder, CO; Charles Salter and Associates, San Francisco; R. Lawrence Kirkegaard, Boulder, CO and Downers Grove, IL; David Adams and Associates, Denver; Boner and Associates, Austin, TX; Giddings and Associates, Toronto; and Audio Design Associates, Kansas City, among other presenters.
An in-depth review of last year's NSCA educational program evaluations disclosed two significant trends. Attendees at the educational sessions want to have ample time to interact with the presenters. One frequent comment in the evaluations was a request for more time for questions after the presentations. Another comment concerned a request for more hands-on practice of the topics covered at the sessions.To accommodate these requests, NSCA has lengthened session hours. Pre-expo sessions are now on full two-day schedules. (NICET fire-alarm technology is a full three-day session held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.) Educational sessions have been extended into a 9:15 a.m. to noon format per session, allowing each presenter a full 21/2 hours to present the material and respond to the audience's questions.
To respond to the requests for additional interaction, NSCA is drawing on the considerable resources represented by the myriad of exhibitors participating. During this year's pre-expo activities many of the participating exhibitors have agreed to provide equipment and personnel to present hands-on workshops on such subjects as MATV installations, clock-system installations, loudspeaker system suspension, mixing-console gain parameters setting and miking techniques. These workshops will be part of both the AET-II and AET-III courses.
As certification becomes increasingly important - if not imperative - for our industry, you are urged to participate in these training and testing procedures. The survival of your business and the well-being of your employees are the essence of your participation.
Incidentally, another observation that came out of the evaluation of last year's educational programs was the comment by both attendees and presenters that session sizes were, in too many cases, to large to permit the interaction and real-world, hands-on experience the attendees were seeking. Consequently, at NSCA Expo '96 all pre-expo and educational track sessions will be severely limited with respect to class size. In most cases, sessions will be held to no more than 50 attendees - in some cases even less. Hence if you have an interest in participating in any of these programs, register early. Otherwise you may find out too late that there's no more room at the inn.See you in St. Louis.