New School

Cedar Rapids, IA - NSCA Systems Integration Expo is once again proving to be a vital source for industry education, as courses are selling out weeks before the March 16-18 show in Las Vegas, NV. But this year the association is taking education to the next level for Expo and beyond with enhancements to its NSCA University program. Responding to a need for education at all career path levels, NSCA University now offers six new colleges: Project Management, Systems Sales, System Design, Technical Knowledge, Business and Allied Professionals.

"Up to this point there has been a lot of great technical, sales and business training available in the industry, but certain training needs have not been addressed," observed Brad Nelson, chair of the NSCA Education Committee and president of Sound Solutions Northwest. "With the new NSCA University program, any individual in our industry will be able to choose a training path to acquire the particular skills and knowledge that are unique to the job they perform in or for the systems integration industry."

With an objective to grow the industry by offering a comprehensive educational program, NSCA University will debut at the Systems Integration Expo, but the association has plans to offer training year-round. "Expo up to this point has been the central focus of NSCA education," Nelson said. "But moving forward, NSCA University will offer other avenues for learning. We'll be implementing regional offerings, online training, and courses provided through partnerships with selected manufacturers and third-party providers."

Developed by leading industry subject matter experts, the NSCA University curricula will encompass the best practices, skills and information needed for career paths as various as administrative support, sales, techs, installers, managers and executives. Consultants, architects, system operators, and other allied professionals will also benefit from NSCA training programs.

Participants in NSCA University programs can work toward a Certificate of Completion, which will be awarded after attaining 24 learning units (LUs) within a college. Beginning with courses offered at Expo 2006, the Certificate of Completion Program (CCP) will specify curriculum requirements that include 16 LUs of core courses for each college, with an additional eight LUs for electives.

As part of the new NSCA educational structure, LUs can also be used to fulfill continuing education requirements for EST certification renewal. NSCA C-SI and C-EST credentials may now be renewed by acquiring 12 or 24 LUs, respectively. As an added bonus, retroactive LUs for relevant courses taken since 2003 will be tracked and applied to continuing education requirements for credential renewal.

More opportunities to accumulate NSCA University LUs for EST certification credential renewal will arise with NSCA's partnerships with manufacturers, consulting firms, other associations and technical education providers who will offer pre-approved curricula. "We wanted the new curriculum and Learning Unit program to work harmoniously with training and certification provided by our esteemed education partners," Nelson explained. "Through collaboration with organizations such as Syn-Aud-Con, Enterprise Performance Consulting, and select manufacturers, we ensure that electronic systems professionals receive the most advanced training and obtain proper recognition for their achievements."

These changes to the NSCA University structure reinforce the association's ability to provide education on all levels. "There's a wonderful array of training at NSCA Expo that we have found beneficial," noted John Waddel, vice president of operations for Communications Specialists of Virginia, Inc. in Richmond, VA. "We've found wonderful programs in the management track with leadership training, project management training, in the sales track with estimating, and marketing, right on through to technical training with courses in audio balancing, gain structure and microphone selection. NSCA just has a huge array of training for every facet of our company, and it's all quality courses."

Citing the association's goal of providing professionals in the commercial electronic systems industry with the knowledge and resources to grow their business and be successful, NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson explained the goals of the new NSCA University program. "This provides a way for us to package and position training to the industry in an organized structure, and in so doing, it allows us to continually monitor the educational product offerings that we have," Wilson said. "There's a significant need in our industry to provide options for companies that don't have in-house training programs. As an industry association, we can provide a model for training from entry level all the way up through different positions within a company. In order to grow the electronic systems industry, we need to provide education for every portion of the business."

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