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Getting Serious

I know that you love the work that you do. Its doubtful that you got into this business because someone twisted your arm. Your parents didnt pressure or badger you into a career that you hated. On the contrary, you probably got into this business because you really loved the gear, enjoyed selling it, and had fun managing projects. Or maybe youre a movie buff and loved being the person who everyone called to set up their cinematic experience at home.

Was the work that youre doing now just a hobby when you first started? If it was, then you are one of the lucky few in this world that managed to earn a buck doing something that used to be just for fun. And while its important to continue enjoying the work that we do, it is also time that we started getting more serious about our place in the world.

For some time now, our trade association, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) has been developing an educational platform to train newcomers and veterans alike in the best business and technology practices. For years, this program was centered on volunteer instructors who primarily taught lessons from the School of Hard Knocks, and had no formal curriculum to follow. While many of these instructors had great stories to tell and experience to share, the format of the educational tracks was not yet organized toward a formal career path in custom. CEDIAs board of directors recognized this and recently took it upon themselves to development what became known as CEDIA University.

CEDIA University, which is an educational program, not a bricks and mortar institution, will be unveiled September 7-11 at CEDIA EXPO 2005 in Indianapolis. It will demonstrate for the first time how members of this industry can follow five curricula that provide best practices, information, and skills for every employee in a residential electronic systems company.

Each curriculum path consists of core and elective seminar courseseach designed and developed to make companies in our industry more successful. These classes are designed as the new standard for industry education. They are created by training professionals using instructional design methodology, and they specifically support industry competencies outlined by CEDIA subject matter experts and can provide a pathway to CEDIA certification.

The program also enables CEDIA to establish an apprenticeship program and thus polish the image of our industry in the eyes of state governments and the building community. CEDIA president Ray Lepper hopes that eventually all of the pieces will come together to create a Fourth Trade in the building industry, called the Electronic Systems Contractor (see article on p. 24). Lepper would like outsidersbuilding industry professionals, government regulators, consumersto eventually believe that when you build a house, you need a plumber, an electrician, an HVAC installer, and an electronic systems contractor.

As Lepper explained, As recently as two years ago if you asked a dozen CEDIA members, What are you guys called? Theyd respond, Custom installer… Systems integrator… Electronic architect, etc. How could you ever get consumers, architects, or designers to even return your phone call if you can never say who you are twice the same way?

By creating a more structured education and career path, and by establishing this Fourth Trade, CEDIA is trying to help raise the standards and preserve the long-term health of the industry.