If you thought you were done with school once you graduated from college, there’s a good chance you were wrong. Education and training do not end when your career begins. In fact, the opportunities for continuing education and training are endless. They are also vital in today’s business environment.

Merriam-Webster defines education as “the action or process of educating or of being educated.” The procedure being referred to is always evolving in the thermal-processing industry. In today’s extremely competitive environment, knowledge is a key asset. That is why a plethora of courses are offered by a multitude of professional associations, companies and universities. Training is no different. A good employee is a well-trained employee, and there is no shortage of training classes available to offer assistance. While the options are seemingly endless, this article will highlight a select few of the education/training alternatives to be had throughout the industry.

Professional Associations

There are a number of associations available for members of the thermal-processing community. What do these various organizations have to offer? Most sponsor and/or promote a wide variety of activities, from meetings to conferences and exhibitions. Many also spend a great deal of time and resources meeting the needs of their members by offering comprehensive education and training. The opportunities are out there.

IHEA
The Industrial Heating Equipment Association (IHEA) offers both in-house training and online distance learning courses for the benefit of its members.

IHEA holds annual training seminars on safety standards, combustion technology and infrared process heating. IHEA, in partnership with the Department of Energy, also sponsors process heating assessment and survey tools (PHAST) seminars. All of these training sessions, conducted by experts in the field, are designed to bring the latest pertinent information to end-users.

Online distance-learning courses are offered annually by IHEA, in conjunction with the Electrotechnologies Application Center of Northampton Community College. “Fundamentals of Industrial Process Heating” and “Advanced Industrial Process Heating” are available in a flexible, web-based format. The instructor-led classes are intended for operators and users of all types of industrial heating equipment.

MTI
The Metal Treating Institute (MTI) is another professional organization doing its part to educate and train its members. The Florida-based organization offers specialized online courses in addition to its annual 10-month training program for young executives, the Young Executive Series (Y.E.S.).

MTI’s Online Academy was designed to meet the practical training needs of commercial heat treaters and manufacturers with in-house thermal processing. A wide variety of courses are offered with practical content. The academy satisfies training requirements for Nadcap and most other certification entities.

The Y.E.S. series is a multi-session program for managers of MTI-member companies. These sessions provide intensive training in the areas of team building, systems management and implementation. Participants must also complete courses on leadership training and cost accounting.

PRI
The Performance Review Institute (PRI) provides a full range of programs and services designed to improve manufacturing process and product quality. An outstanding source for training, PRI presents eQuaLearn, a website dedicated to professional development courses for industry professionals. EQuaLearn courses include Internal Auditing, Root Cause Corrective Action and Introduction to Pyrometry.

EQuaLearn also offers more specialized courses. For example, a course titled “Heat Treating for the Automotive Special Processor” is held later this month. This class is a two-day review and comprehensive discussion of SAE AMS 2750D and CQI-9. It is designed to help automotive special processors understand the requirements and ensure complete compliance.

In addition to courses, eQuaLearn produces a series of webinar events to provide instant access to education.

ASM International
ASM International is a well-known source for education and training. Its 2009 course calendar is littered with opportunities for professional development. “Advanced Heat Treating,” “Elements of Metallurgy,” “Practical Induction Heat Treating” and “Refractory Technology” are just a few courses that would benefit those in the industry.

ASM also hosts several conferences/expos throughout the year. In addition to its bi-annual Heat Treat Show, smaller seminars such as the upcoming Heat Treating of Light Alloys offer opportunities to increase your knowledge of specific topics.

TMS
The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) is another organization dedicated to encouraging lifelong education. It offers registration and certification, short courses, workshops and tutorials, meeting symposia and other education activities.

TMS and its five technical divisions sponsor technical and non-technical short courses, workshops and tutorials for materials professionals and students. TMS also supports the licensure of professional engineers with its Professional Engineering exam, which is used to determine those candidates who are competent for professional registration. In addition, TMS promotes engineering management certification through courses and related resources.

MPIF
The Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) assembles an annual schedule of short courses and seminars designed to educate and train members and non-members. Traditional subjects, such as "Basic PM," as well as topics of emerging interest are offered each year.

MPIF, as is the norm for the times, has introduced a new online learning center, where individualized powder metallurgy courses are delivered. Each MPIF e-learning course consists of one module on a specific topic area that is designed to be completed in approximately 30 minutes. Programs are designed take advantage of the web, with audio narration and interactive navigation capabilities.

Equipment Manufacturers

Professional associations and organizations are not the only place to go for educational opportunities. A number of equipment manufacturers do their part to inform and train prospective customers and users by hosting classes and seminars. It is important to note that many companies offer training and aftermarket support to its customers. Companies also host training seminars on specific products. Here are a few companies that provide valuable courses to the public.

SECO/WARWICK
Meadville, Pa.-based SECO/WARWICK offers several seminars each year designed to benefit equipment operators, supervisors, plant engineers, metallurgists and manufacturing personnel. Each seminar has been developed to help customers improve operating efficiencies, minimize waste and conserve energy through a review of the fundamental principles involved in heat transfer, heating systems, protective atmospheres, vacuum technology and process control.

In 2009, SECO/WARWICK has three seminars: "Furnaces and Atmospheres for Today’s Technology," "CAB Brazing" and "Aluminum Furnaces." All tutorials are planned to be educational and non-commercial.

Eclipse
Rockford, Ill.-based Eclipse offers a combustion workshop that combines classroom training, small-group exercises and equipment demonstrations to provide instruction in combustion fundamentals as well as the design, operation and application of industrial combustion equipment. The workshop is held two to three times per year.

Inductoheat
Madison Heights, Mich.-based Inductoheat presents a seminar intended to train for the operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of solid-state power supplies. The course covers the basics of induction, special maintenance training techniques, how to check for failed components, troubleshooting and much more. In addition, a short class on metallurgy is presented. This seminar is offered three times in 2009.

Ipsen
Cherry Valley, Ill.-based Ipsen introduces Ipsen-U, a three-day course that teaches several important thermal-processing issues, including: introduction to vacuum furnaces, terminology, subsystems and components, operation, maintenance and troubleshooting.

Varian
Lexington, Mass.-based Varian boasts a training program designed to provide comprehensive and thorough instruction on vacuum and leak-detection technologies. A variety of courses are scheduled throughout the year at Varian training facilities.

Conclusion

In the ever-evolving world of thermal processing, education and training will always be of utmost importance. Likewise, professional organizations and companies alike will continue to offer valuable learning tools for the benefit of the industry. Taking advantage of these services is up to the individual. Most likely, it’s a no-brainer.