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Q&A with Jim Clements, Extron Electronics

Jim Clements, head of education at Extron, explains the strong demand within the industry for education and training.


Jim Clements

Credit: Jim Clements

When the economy began to sputter, the AV industry–from associations, to manufacturers, to AV integrators and consultants–recognized the need for advanced training in order to stay competitive. And because in lean times it can be hard to send staff where the training is, vendors ramped up their efforts to make in-depth, useful education more accessible. Associations such as InfoComm even started recognizing more manufacturer training as a way of earning renewal units toward its various CTS accreditations. For its part, Extron Electronics just announced it's expanding its three-year-old program. The company's head of education explains.

PRO AV: How important is manufacturer training, and has that importance changed or grown over the past couple of years?

CLEMENTS: Right now, the demand for training has never been stronger. With the industry wrestling with issues like the transition to digital video, green building initiatives, and the convergence of AV and IT, industry professionals need education in order to be successful.

We're about service and support. It's what we do and what we are known for. That translates into a commitment to educate, train, and support our customers. Participating in Extron education courses and certification allows our customers to stay informed about new technologies, product features, and troubleshooting techniques.

PRO AV: You launched Extron's A/V Associate program a few years ago. How has the industry responded? What types of AV professionals are gaining AVA certification?

CLEMENTS: The number of consultants, resellers, educators, and industry professionals who have successfully completed the Audio/Video Associate (AVA) Certification has far exceeded our expectations. Completion of the AVA Certification demonstrates a solid foundation of industry knowledge and covers the fundamentals of A/V technology and, of course, Extron products.

PRO AV: What is Extron's relationship with InfoComm's CTS program or NSCA's C-EST certification? Can Extron AVA courses count toward association renewal units?

CLEMENTS: Absolutely. Successful completion of Extron's AVA Certification entitles the student to receive 10 renewal units from InfoComm and nine learning units from NSCA. In addition, members of BICSI [the association for information transport systems professionals] can earn 16 continuing education credits and CEDIA members four continuing education units. Anyone interested in enrolling should give us a call.

PRO AV: Given AV pros' busy schedules, how do they figure out what types of ongoing education offer them the most for their time?

CLEMENTS: The easiest way to get updates is by visiting our website. We have a dedicated training page where you can find the next Extron class in your area and obtain more information on training and certification programs. Extron has always tried to make educational opportunities accessible to our customers and 2010 is no different. In addition to a full schedule of courses being offered in either our Anaheim, Calif., or Raleigh, N.C., locations, we have also expanded the number of courses and learning opportunities in cities and locations throughout the United States and Canada. We offer a number of short-form videos, trade show highlights, and product installation demos right on our website.

PRO AV: Now Extron is expanding its certification program. Describe the changes and the impact you expect them to have on the industry.

CLEMENTS: With the introduction of TouchLink, it's only natural for us to expand our certification to include a track on control systems. Control systems certification begins with the Extron Control Associate program that covers Global Configurator and GUI Configurator software tools as well as MediaLink and TouchLink Control Systems. Later this year, the advanced Extron Control Specialist Certification track will be offered.

Given the popularity of TouchLink, we expect that the Extron Control Associate and Extron Control Specialist certifications will be very valuable for our customers who are looking to take configurable control to the next level.

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