engineering degrees, and many of those
folks then become employees,” Teske
THE TIME FOR TRAINING
Training programs will be even more critical in the future due to the coming retirement of thousands of experienced engineers. Many older workers, says Blondin,
put off retirement because the downturn in
the economy devastated their 401(k)s and
other retirement funds. But those retirements will eventually arrive so the industry
should be preparing itself now. The knowledge that will leave with retirees must be
replaced within newly-hired engineers for
the valve industry to remain on a positive
Blondin adds that another factor to consider is embedded in the way new engineers
are integrated into a company today. For
older engineers, “they will tell you that
when they got into the industry, their first
couple of years on the job involved a lot of
on-the-job training. They worked with senior engineers; they walked around facilities
to learn how they worked; they were partnered up on projects,” Blondin says.
Today, that type of mentoring has all-but evaporated: “The new guy gets hired
and he starts designing systems from day
one without any real world experience
about how it works,” he says. This situation creates potential problems. For
example, a chemical plant designed 50
years ago may have seen many changes
such as additional capacity or new technologies added to old. Someone who has
not been around to see it all happen may
not have the experience or knowledge to
avoid potential problems.
In the final analysis, any well-run company comes down to the people within the
operation. “You can build the best plants,”
Hellberg says. “You can put in the greatest
technology available. But it’s the individuals who are running that plant [and] know
how to maintain and operate the equipment that make it a success.” VM
PETER CLEAVELAND is a contributing editor to
Valve Magazine. Reach him at pcleaveland@
A number of industry organizations and associations provide training; the
one most directly related to valves is, of course, the Valve Manufacturers
Association. Here’s a summary of educational products provided by VMA.
In a longer version of this article, published on ValveMagazine.com, we’ve
also included a number of other resources for those who wish to further
their valve education.
VMA has an entry-level education program called Valve Ed. Each year
the association conducts two 1½-day courses at different locations around
the U.S. and Canada. In 2012, the locations are Houston (March 6-7) and
Denver (Oct. 10-11). Both feature the Valves & Actuators 101 educational
session, which offers seven lessons covering all the major valve, actuator
and control types. The program also includes a “valve petting zoo” for
hands-on exploration of products and much more.
As part of the Valve Ed program, VMA’s educational foundation—the
Friends of the Crawford Library—provides free admission to the Valves &
Actuators 101 course for up to 20 mechanical engineering students attending college in the region where the Valve Basics Seminar is being held. So
far, VMA has hosted students from Drexel University (Philadelphia), University of Louisiana-Baton Rouge, University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois
Institute of Technology and University of Calgary (Alberta)
In addition, VMA is also developing a Valve Basics Online Training
program, which will allow people to purchase it from The VMA Store, and then
sign on to a website to complete the course. It will be based on Valves & Actuators 101 and offer the equivalent of six hours of training. Those who successfully complete the training will receive professional development hours and a
certificate. The online program is expected to launch by mid 2012.
For those companies that want to provide valve training to employees in
their own facilities, VMA has a selection of educational tools available in
The VMA Store. These include:
; Basics in a Box™, which packages the Valves & Actuators 101 edu-
cation session in a handy format for onsite training; it includes copies
of all 400-plus slides, instructor guides, handouts for students and CD.
; An Introduction to the Valve Industry is intended to educate and
inform brand-new employees about the valve industry. Available as a
PDF, this presentation contains 110 slides and additional notes.
; Back to Basics Compilation is a collection of 17 articles from Valve
Magazine’s Back to Basics series; the manual includes extensive infor-
mation about the major valve and actuator types.
; Actuators & Controls Compilation is a compendium of two dozen
articles from Valve Magazine that address a wide array of actuation
and control topics.
; Valve Magazine CD Archive (2000 to 2010)—The CD contains
PDFs of more than 40 issues and hundreds of articles, all keyword
; Past Articles—Titles and summaries of previously published articles in
Valve Magazine can be searched by keyword and ordered individually.
More than 25 VMA member companies have provided information about
their education and training programs. To review this comprehensive
listing, along with additional resources, go to www.ValveMagazine.com.