It is pretty well understood about the need for education in our industry, whether it is needed due to improvements in technology and installation methods or in codes and standards. The only constant we have is that our world is constantly evolving. Lately, the economy has become an important factor as well. Education not only helps us keep up-to-date with emerging technologies and the resultant changes in code enforcement, but it can also be a factor in maintaining employment or a vital aid in finding a new position. The IAEI has been one of the best resources for training and education in our industry. With our current economy, how does IAEI continue to provide the educational resources that are needed by those in our industry?
It has to start at the grass roots level by the individual chapters and the education committees of each chapter. The chapters are the vital link in the chain that brings training and educational programs by the International Education department out to the chapter or division levels. In turn, the chapter or division filters back information to the International Office the specific needs of our members. When a chapter education committee is active, they become a resource not only for the local members but also for other chapters within the same section and, even out to other sections and chapters. The local chapter or division is the IAEI voice of the members! They give direction to the International Education department to help meet our needs. To that end, local committees assist in the preparation, creation and dissemination of training and educational materials. They help to bring together a uniform message and continuity of learning that has relevance to our members.
Well established and active education committees are able to provide training and educational opportunities for their members. When those same education committee members begin sharing information with other sections, chapters and divisions, it becomes a way to share strategies and foster new ideas. Through the communication network of joint meetings, such as section meetings, committee members are able to help each other. In addition, they can share what works and what does not work, and assist each other in providing valuable education and also in keeping the chapter and committees active and vibrant. Ideas for presentations, ways to find speakers, the mechanics of setting up a continuing education session, or ideas for effective business meetings are all things that should not have to be reinvented each time a chapter, division, or section has a new education committee. Only through sustained and frequent communication with others can a chapter, division or section avoid the pitfalls of stagnation or the loss of knowledge. With the cutbacks in travel of many speakers due to the economy, many committees will be looking for new ways to provide the needed training and educational programs. When a good networking system is in place to share information, all of our sections, chapters, and divisions will have access to the ideas that work and to opportunities to enhance their own programs.
So, what does this actually mean to members of a committee? It means first, of course, that there must be a committee. The committee must have meetings to set up areas of responsibility, from finding meeting locations, or getting speakers for a presentation, to ensuring proper procedures are followed for providing continuing education units for a session. This is not a one person job. Committees should follow the Education Committee guidelines that can be found on the IAEI Web site at www.iaei.org/pdf/edu_manual/edchairguidelines.pdf. Minutes of each meeting and of each educational presentation should be taken and recorded. This information should be forwarded on to the other chapters in the section and to the International Education department for sharing with other sections, chapters and divisions. The IAEI cannot move forward without this information.
Does your chapter or division have an educational committee? Are you a part of it? Can you be the new blood that revitalizes your committee and section, chapter or division? Talk to your IAEI officers and find out how you can help. Find out what others are doing, and think of ways to incorporate new ideas into training and education and share the information with others. Again, training and education has to start at the grass roots level by the IAEI education committees. The committees are the vital link in the chain that brings training and educational programs to our members. Be a part of the change, be a part of the solution!
Compiled by Education Committee—
Lanny McMahill, Chairman, Southwestern Section
Robert McCullough, Eastern Section
Doug Geralde, Canadian Section
Christine Porter, Northwestern Section, Editor
Larry Chan, Southern Section
Alan Manche, Western Section