More than 130 professionals from across the valve industry, including manufacturers, end users, EPC firm personnel, distributors and students from the University of New Orleans came together at Harrah's New Orleans for VMA's first two-full day seminar, Nov. 6-7.
Dozens of the attendees sought out staff and presenters to personally thank them for putting on this educational event, which included nine lessons, a tabletop exhibition and the Valve Petting Zoo. In addition to courses on all the major valve and actuator types, two new lessons were added to the agenda: Solenoids and Positioners.
For those unfamiliar with the Valve Petting Zoo (which does NOT involve any live animals!), the best analogy would be “speed dating.” A large room contains nine tables (one for each lesson) and each table has about a dozen chairs, which are filled up by attendees. Products are displayed on each table and two-person team of two experts demonstrates how the products work. Attendees examine the products and ask questions, allowing them to better understand the material taught during the lecture part of the program. After 20 minutes, an announcement is made, and everyone moves to the next table. By the end of the afternoon, everyone has spent time with all nine of the product groups.
One attendee wrote: "Loved the petting zoo!! Getting up close and personal to the valves was great. Will definitely help in understanding in my line of work."
Another attendee thanked a presenter: "I appreciate Greg Johnson taking time to offer suggestions in my new career move from accounting to inside sales/service repair. I found the seminar to be very beneficial."
An enthusiastic response also came from a University of New Orleans student who was grateful for the opportunity provided by the scholarship he received--courtesy of VMA's educational foundation, the Friends of the Crawford Library. He told VMA staff that while he hadn't learned much in school yet about valves, actuators and controls, he felt sure the information presented at the seminar would make it easier to understand the subject when he had coursework on these topics.
Exploring Changes in 2014
Members of VMA’s Education & Training Committee and course presenters met after the event to review evaluations and discuss ways to further improve the learning experience. Although the Valves & Actuators 101 course was originally designed for those who are new to the industry, others with more experience continue to attend.
“It’s challenging trying to find one course that works for everyone, said Greg Johnson, committee chairman, “so we’re going to explore having break-out sessions that allow attendees to pick and choose which lessons they would like to take. This also gives us the opportunity to offer additional lessons that we might not otherwise have time for in a 2-day event.”
The committee will meet soon to work out a new framework for the 101 course, and details will be announced on VMA.org and in VALVE eNews as soon as they become available. Registration for the next Basics event—April 2-3 at the Hilton Kansas City Airport—will open in January 2014. Another Valve Basics Seminar & Exhibits will be held in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood, Oct. 30-31, 2014.
Basically, It Takes a Team
It takes a group of hard-working volunteers to put on the Valve Basics Seminar & Exhibits. Here are some of the VMA members who dedicated their time and expertise to make this event successful:
- EDUCATION & TRAINING COMMITTEE, all of whom served as presenters—Greg Johnson, Chairman (United Valve); Leon Brooks, Vice Chairman (Cameron); Ed Holtgraver, Actuator Lead (QTRCO Inc.); Bert Evans (Emerson Process Management); Jeff Kane (DFT Inc.); and Paul Souza (AUMA Actuators)
- GUEST PRESENTERS—Ernie Dingeldein (GE Oil & Gas/Consolidated); John Molloy (ASCO Numatics); and Bill Tatum (Westlock Controls)
- PETTING ZOO HELPERS—Steve Atherton (Metso Automation); Michael Christian (Westlock Controls); Carlos Davila (CRANE); Lido Flores (AUMA Actuators); Michael Fulford (Bernard Controls); Doug Laiche (Emerson); Matt Lovell (United Valve); Scott Richardson (Kinetrol); David Scott (Samson); and Mark Simmons (CWFC-Farris Engineering)