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Valve Basics: It’s a Zoo Out There!

David-Scott-zoo 330pxWhen VMA launched its Valve Basics course in 2009, it soon became clear the program would be in great demand. The first couple of events—which lasted one-day—were well-attended and received very positive evaluations. But it also became clear that attendees thought we were missing a critical factor—the opportunity to closely examine the many products being discussed during the seminar. As a result, VMA’s Education & Training Committee expanded the program to include what would be an important component of future 101 classes: the “Valve Petting Zoo.”

Committee chairman Greg Johnson of United Valve was instrumental in launching the Valve Ed program and responsible for cleverly naming this hands-on learning segment. Though many have laughed when they first heard about the “zoo,” it has captured the attention of the industry and grown into the most popular aspect of VMA’s 101 learning program.

So how does it work? Round tables, each displaying samples of a particular product type, are set up in a large space. We divide up the number of attendees by the number of product categories, and these small groups have a seat around one of the tables. They not only hear and see how the products function, but are able examine them up close and ask questions of a product expert manning that table. When 20 minutes have gone by, an announcement is made to move on to the next product, until each attendee has visited all the tables.

With the recent expansion of the program—and the name change from Valves & Actuators 101 to Valves, Actuators & Controls 101—we now have nine tables covering the following products:

  • Multi-turn Valves
  • Check Valves
  • Quarter-turn Valves
  • Pressure-relief Valves
  • Actuators—pneumatic and hydraulic
  • Actuators—electric
  • Control Valves & Systems
  • Solenoids and Limit Switches
  • Actuator Accessories, including Positioners

The next Valves, Actuators & Controls 101 program takes place April 2-3 at the Hilton Kansas City Airport in Kansas City, MO. This event also features tabletop exhibits by a variety of manufacturers and suppliers. To take the course, visit the zoo and receive a VMA Certificate of Completion awarding you 12 professional development hours, go to VMA.org.

For those unable to attend the April course in Kansas City, another Valve Basics Seminar & Exhibits will be held at Planet Hollywood in LasVegas, Oct. 30-31. Registration will open in June 2014.

Judy Tibbs is director of education for the Valve Manufacturers Association and editor in chief of VALVE Magazine. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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