POV: Educating with PETC

In the early days of ICIA, a dedicated group of people convened each summer at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. to offer four- to five-day classes
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POV: Educating with PETC

Mar 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By Mike Weems

In the early days of ICIA, a dedicated group of people convened each summer at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. to offer four- to five-day classes on a broad range of topics for dealer personnel from all over the country. These institutes for professional development (IPDs) were the primary vehicle for most of the association's early training efforts. Many of today's leading industry experts have lent their time and talents to educating others in our industry at IPDs held over the years. The next IPD will be held June 4-6 in conjunction with the InfoComm show in Las Vegas.

Originally, the tight-knit group of people that met each year to produce IPDs made up the Professional Education and Training Committee (PETC), one of three standing ICIA committees along with the Membership and Exhibitors Committees. Today, PETC does many things to advance ICIA's training activities, thanks to the work of a considerably larger group of dedicated and knowledgeable individuals.

The PETC charter tasks the committee with the responsibility of planning, developing, and evaluating ICIA's educational, training, and certification programs. PETC provides the association's training staff the strategic vision for all programs that are developed and distributed. It also advises the staff and the Board of Governors on the tactical implementation of the vision to ensure that education, training, and certification meet the needs of association's members.

As the needs of the association have increased along with the rate of technology use, ICIA has had to develop new programs to satisfy the growing demand for training. This has led to the many offerings that the association now has through onsite InfoComm Academy courses, online courses, on-demand sessions using streamed media, and seminars and workshops at InfoComm. Four years ago, it became clear that PETC had to change to accommodate the demand.

So, then-PETC Chair Gary Kayye decided that PETC, whose membership was capped at 21, needed more members to share the workload. The ICIA Board of Governors revised the by-laws to make membership in PETC open to any association member.

The committee immediately grew to more than 50 members, and more join us each year. This increased participation has allowed me as current chair to divide the workload among three subcommittees: curriculum, certification, and InfoComm conference.

The curriculum subcommittee, headed by Mario J. Maltese, CTS-D, CTS-I, of Audio Visual Resources, assists ICIA staff in the planning, development and implementation of onsite and online InfoComm Academy offerings. The prime areas of course concentration parallel the various disciplines in our industry: design, installation, rental/staging, and sales. Over the last few years, the committee has worked with ICIA staff to totally revamp our installation education programs, rework our design courses, and redesign our “Essentials of the AV Industry” course. Other projects are also in the works.

Chaired by Bill Nattress of Shen Milsom Wilke, the certification subcommittee is tasked with developing and overseeing the association's certification program. The basic program is for the certified technology specialist (CTS) level. The general CTS requires some basic knowledge of all the disciplines of our industry and is tested through a comprehensive online exam. We also offer four specialized CTS levels in the areas of design (CTS-D), installation (CTS-I), rental (CTS-R), and sales (CTS-S). These specialized certifications require a rigorous session of coursework followed by extensive testing. There is also a company certification program, with companies achieving general, silver, and gold Certified AudioVisual Solutions Provider awards (CAVSPs) by certifying a certain percentage of their technical and sales staff. CAVSP is marketed to AV clients through ICIA and its AVolution industry awareness campaign.

Ever wonder where all those seminars and workshops at InfoComm come from? They are the chosen by the third PETC subcommittee: the InfoComm conference subcommittee, chaired by Paul Depperschmidt of Polycom. After the entries for InfoComm pour in from the request for submittals, this subcommittee convenes each fall at the ICIA headquarters in Fairfax, Va., sifts through them, and determines which ones to offer each year. Evolving from an art in the early days, this is now a finely tuned process that matches submittals to desired topics and sessions.

Finally, the committee that oversees the work of the subcommittees is the steering committee (SC), composed of the three subcommittee chairs and others the PETC chair appoints. The SC reviews the decisions brought forth by each subcommittee, forwarding its recommendation to PETC for a final decision. The SC also selects the courses to be offered at each year's IPD and serves as the nominating committee, presenting nominations annually for possible consideration for the two awards it presents. The ICIA Educator of the Year Award is bestowed by PETC and approved by the ICIA Board of Governors on an individual who has done the most to support the activities of the association in the areas of training and training development. Named after a longtime ICIA Academy educator and the first recipient, the Fred Dixon Lifetime Achievement Award is an honor bestowed annually only if deemed appropriate. Unlike those of the Educator of the Year Award, the Fred Dixon Award criteria look at the entire body of work that an individual has contributed over many years.

No one said it would be easy to serve on PETC. As you may surmise, we volunteer a tremendous amount of time each year to serve. But the contributions we make to the growth and professional development of our industry, coupled with the camaraderie and commitment of our colleagues, make it all worth it.

Mike Weems, CTS, MCP, serves as chair of ICIA's PETC. When he's not singing opera in the shower, he can be reached atmweems@amdsys.com.

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