Educational Opportunities Abound at New VMA Knowledge Forum

From technical to manufacturing to human resources, attendees of the Valve Industry Knowledge Forum will benefit from the best of three different VMA meetings in one education-packed event open to the industry. VMA is holding its first-ever Valve Industry Knowledge Forum, April 11-12, 2018 at the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah, GA. The conference combines the former VMA Technical Seminar, Manufacturing Workshop and Human Resources Workshop into one event with three distinct tracks.

Each of the three tracks offers a range of sessions over the course of a day and a half (April 12 and 13). In addition, the event includes an optional tour day (April 11), tabletop exhibits (April 12), the flexibility for attendees to mix and match tracks, and shared events and meals to foster networking.

Attendees will also receive a certificate for 12 Professional Development Hours (and an additional three hours for those who attend the Technical Track breakout session). Most importantly, this joint event means a more meaningful dialogue between different segments of the valve manufacturing industry, an expansion of the attendee base and the ability for individuals to learn about various areas of the valve business.



technicalThe technical track was specifically designed to target experienced technical and engineering personnel working with valves and related products. In this track, attendees will hear from two keynote speakers – the first being Kevin Swift, chief economist for the American Chemical Industry who will present on Economic Trends and a View to the Future. Providing perspectives on energy and feedstock supply, Swift will examine in detail both basic and specialty chemicals and offer an industry outlook, while assessing the implications for capital spending.

The second keynote speaker for the technical track is Tony Smart, senior mechanical engineer at Shell Global Solutions International. With his advanced engineering and corporate background, Smart will deliver a presentation on the IOGP Vision and Goals and the Impact on the Industry. The IOGP (International Association of Oil & Gas Producers) is a worldwide group of major oil companies, whose Joint Industry Project has a goal to simplify and standardize procurement of equipment and services across oil companies. Smart’s keynote will address areas of this project that are relevant to the valve industry, while providing a detailed background about the IOGP.

The attending the jam-packed technical track will also hear from a variety of speakers on the topics of: hydrogen embrittlement in the oil and gas industry; end-user special applications; advances in welding and manufacturing technology for heavy-duty industrial applications; castings and how to minimize concerns; control valve diagnostics including online monitoring and analysis; a demonstration on bolt tensioning and gaskets; advances in nondestructive testing; a demonstration on early identification of dimensional issues with portable in-process precision 3D laser scanning; review of the IOGP specification S-562 for ball valves; ISA 96 valve automation standards; U.S. industry specification update; two panel discussions; and a breakout session workshop on Grade 91 steel.



manufacturingDeveloped for those who work or supervise the production and assembly process in their companies, the manufacturing track will kick off with a session from motivational and safety speaker Brad Livingston, who was involved in back-to-back explosions that were 100% preventable. A return VMA presenter, Livingston continues to impact attendees with his personal and emotional story in hopes that others will remember that safety should be every employees’ utmost priority, especially in the manufacturing industry.

The manufacturing track will offer a variety of presentations on topics relevant to the valve manufacturing environment, such as: additive manufacturing of valve components; the role of automation in the current economy; the internet of things; motivating employees to create a compelling customer experience; and a panel discussion with the speakers to answer additional questions about the topics discussed.



human resources

For those with human resources responsibilities, whether HR specialists or company leaders who wish to hear the latest thinking in HR topics and legal issues, the HR track will provide a thorough discussion on how valve manufacturing companies can improve the employee experience from recruiting to onboarding to mentoring and training.

Opening the human resources track will be Mary Ann Pacelli, workforce development program manager for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (an initiative of the National Institute for Standards and Technology). Pacelli brings her lengthy federal experience and manufacturing workforce know-how to the HR track to discuss how to cultivate a successful workforce development program through building pipelines, networks, partnerships, and talent strategies.

Louis Lessig, employment litigator and partner at the law firm of Brown & Connery, LLP, will be on hand to present two sessions relevant to legal issues in today’s workforce. His first session will discuss the top 10 employment cases of the past year, the outcomes and what human resources professionals can learn from such situations. Lessig will also host a fun and informative Jeopardy-style game covering FMLA, ADA and FLSA facts and insights. Attendees will also have a chance to “Stump the Lawyer” with their wildest and most challenging legal questions and issues.

Rounding out the HR track will be an assortment of speakers discussing topics such as: internal communication and employee engagement; transforming the candidate and onboarding experience to maximize success; PEOs (professional employer organizations) and how they can help your business; a members’ panel to discuss HR challenges, successes and hopes; and roundtable discussions where small groups will tackle pertinent HR topics and present their findings to all attendees.


Attendees who would like to explore the local industry around Savannah can opt to attend one of two exciting tours. Participants can choose to tour the Gulfstream Aerospace headquarters and their Gulfstream G650 manufacturing facility, where state-of-the-art computerized machining dovetails with an assembly process engineered for maximum efficiency. Alternately, attendees may select the Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems’ Savannah Machinery Works tour, where the world’s most advanced gas turbines are manufactured in over 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Tours are limited, and some restrictions apply—refer to the official program for more information.

Between professional development hours, shared meals and networking events, tabletop exhibits, two optional tours, and three distinct tracks jam-packed with informative and educational sessions by industry experts. It’s a unique event aimed at providing an overall educational experience for those who make and use valves, actuators and controls.

For more information about this exciting new event and to see details on all sessions and speakers, refer to the official Knowledge Forum program, available at There, you’ll find registration fees, hotel information, links to register online for both attendees and exhibitors, and more.

If you have questions about the Knowledge Forum, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., VMA Meetings Manager.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is VMA’s valve careers coordinator. For more information about VMA’s careers initiative, visit