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If there is one thing those involved in developing and running the Valve Basics program have come to understand, it’s that the term “basics” means different things to different people. VMA has taken that reality into consideration in designing a new format for the Valve Basics course.


For an employee just starting to work with valves and related products, the ideal basics course would answer questions such as: “What is a valve? What are the main types? How do these different types work? Where are they used? What are they made of?” Some of the advanced concepts covered in VMA’s program are beyond the scope of this group’s everyday jobs or may simply not be what they’re looking for at this point in their career.

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Those who can already answer the questions above, however, need something else from a basics course. They may be seeking to increase their understanding beyond valves to actuation, automation, controls, technology and other specialized topics. For this second group of people, they may not need to attend three days of education when they’re only interested in half of what’s covered.

Then there’s the third group of people—those who want the whole picture of the valve world in one intensive course.

Because of these different needs, VMA is introducing a new format at the next Valve Basics Seminar & Exhibits, Nov. 12-14 at the Houston Area Safety Council in Pasadena, TX. Attendees can choose to take the complete 3-day course (and VMA suspects many will do so), or they now have the option to take just one of the courses. Each is a day-and-a-half in length. They include:

  • Valves 101: Industrial Valves & Materials—Nov. 12 (full day) through Nov. 13 (a.m.)
  • Valves 201: Control Valves, Automation & Special Applications—Nov. 13 (p.m.) through Nov. 14 (full day)


Valves 101 and 201 provide entry-level industry knowledge coupled with real application examples and give valve professionals the opportunity to examine many different products used in industry. It’s suitable for all types of entry-level positions from sales, to engineering, service and maintenance, and some levels of management. VMA also has many attendees who already have a deep level of experience but seek a refresher on the fundamentals or a glimpse into new areas because their jobs have expanded into new arenas. The universal comment the association gets is that, no matter the level, those who attend always say they learned something new.


Valves 101: Industrial Valves & Materials

  • Introduction to the Industry

  • Linear Valves

  • Check Valves

  • Quarter-turn: Plug and Ball Valves

  • Quarter-turn: Butterfly Valves

  • Pressure-relief Valves

  • Materials

Valves 201: Control Valves, Automation & Special Applications

  • Fluid Powered Actuators

  • Electric Actuators

  • Solenoids

  • Control Valves

  • On/Off Panels for Fluid Powered Actuators

  • Electric Actuator Asset Management, Feedback & Monitoring

  • Severe Service Valves & Applications

Attendees also may run into senior-level engineering students from local colleges, who are invited to attend at no cost. Another common comment VMA receives comes from students close to graduating who say the lessons are particularly valuable because there are so many valve and other equipment subjects addressed that have never been taught in school.

The course is developed and overseen by the VMA Education & Training Committee, most of whom serve as presenters, along with other members of the association. These subject matter experts are dedicated volunteers whose aim is to provide attendees with a complete educational experience. Another frequent comment in the past is that the information is presented in an educational vs. proprietary manner.

Attendees travel from locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. They represent a variety of industries including oil and gas, chemicals/petrochemicals, water/wastewater, power generation, valve manufacturing and more.


Despite how much attendees appreciate the book learning, without the unique hands-on experience built into the program, the Valve Basics course would just be another seminar where attendees sit in chairs and try to stay awake. In too many educational environments, there’s a huge disconnect between what people see projected and what they understand.

This is where the Valve Petting Zoo is invaluable. This part of the program allows attendees to better understand the material taught during the lecture portion of the program. During these learning sessions, everyone can sit down with the experts at tables covered with product samples. Each table has a product type displayed, and the presenter helps attendees make the connection between what they heard and saw in the classroom and what they hold in their hands. Questions can be targeted as products are examined, resulting in elevated understanding.


Head to the Valve Basics homepage on ( for more information. Online registration opens in July 2019. Those with questions about the program should contact Abby Brown, education & training coordinator ( 

JUDY TIBBS is VMA’s director of education and editor-in-chief of VALVE Magazine. Reach her at