April 21st 2009 - The Fieldbus Foundation has announced that STC Brielle and the Fieldbus Center at Lee College are the first educational institutions worldwide to offer fieldbus training courses certified under its Foundation Certified Training Program (FCTP). This program establishes uniform standards for fieldbus educational curriculum around the globe, and defines acceptable levels of learning for students of the technology.
The FCTP is intended to raise the visibility and prestige of institutions offering certified Foundation fieldbus training to a new and exclusive level. Educational facilities successfully completing a multi-stage certification process can issue certificates showing the Fieldbus Foundation accredits their courses. They also gain recognition from the foundation on its website at www.fieldbus.org.
The FCTP is a comprehensive initiative benefiting the entire industrial automation community-particularly in today's challenging economy and employment market. The program currently offers three levels of certification; additional certifications may be added in the future. The current certifications include:
1) Foundation Certified Professional, recognising engineers, engineering technologists, system integrators, technologists, Main Instrumentation Controls Contractors/Main Automation Contractors (MAC), Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) professionals, Contract Administrators/Estimators, Certified Fieldbus Instructors, Programmers, Startup and Commissioning Specialists, Designers and System Analysts;
2) Foundation Certified Support Specialist, recognising individuals such as Salespeople, End User Management, Estimators, Operations Staff, Quality Control Specialists and Reliability Analysts who are Foundation fieldbus generalists able to communicate intelligently about the technology, but do not have the depth of knowledge required for other certificates;
3) Foundation Certified Technical Specialist, recognising individuals such as Maintenance Technicians, Network Technicians, Vendor/Contract Service Specialists, Maintenance and Contract Maintenance Supervisors, Control Automation Instructors and In-house Trainers who have demonstrated competence to install, maintain, repair/replace and troubleshoot Foundation fieldbus systems.
Thanks to the FCTP, end users gain access to highly skilled employees possessing a strong knowledge of Foundation technology principles; a consistent understanding of fieldbus fundamentals, regardless of geographical location; and a proven ability to implement fieldbus-based control systems. Beginning automation students are able to identify colleges, universities and other facilities offering a certified Foundation educational curriculum. After graduating, they will be able to present official FCTP certificates to potential employers. Existing automation professionals completing certified courses can expand their job skills and employment value within their companies.
According to the Fieldbus Foundation's director - fieldbus products, Stephen Mitschke, the FCTP is an evolutionary extension of the foundation's original training site certification process. "Due to the growing Foundation technology market, there was a strong demand within process industry companies, including the control engineers, plant operators and instrumentation technicians they employ, for a uniform, global fieldbus training curriculum and standardised certification process," said Mitschke. "With the establishment of the FCTP, we have developed formalised procedures to meet different certification standards within the plant automation fieldbus. Regardless of where certified fieldbus training courses are conducted, students will encounter a consistent level of knowledge and curriculum requirements."
Located in Brielle, The Netherlands, close to the Rotterdam-Europoort industrial areas, STC Brielle has established a unique training center for process control and automation. The combination of complex simulation facilities and hands-on training gives students a chance to enhance their theoretical knowledge and gain user experience by working on real fieldbus equipment and configurations. Gertjan Siemons, industrial automation instructor for STC Brielle, commented, "Certification is important for STC because we are recognised by the foundation as a high quality training center. This gives our customers a guarantee that the content of our courses, the used materials and the knowledge of our trainers are up to date. For most of our customers, it is essential to be certified because of the value in their professional environment."
Lee College, located in Baytown, Texas, is a leading educational center for emerging technologies in the field of industrial automation. The facilities of Lee College include a multi-million dollar pilot plant and several state-of-the-art MicroPlants that allow students to build fieldbus segments, configure devices and develop control strategies. Fieldbus Center Director and Principal Investigator Chuck Carter said, "Having the Fieldbus Center, the instructor, and the curriculum certified by the Fieldbus Foundation is not just a great move for Lee College, but also for our client industries. It means we have demonstrated our capabilities to meet each and every student's training and development goals. Clients from the processing, pulp/paper, pharmaceutical, power, manufacturing, and related industries who take our courses are assured they will receive up to date, consistent, and fully applicable training."
For educational institutions, there are rigorous procedures for gaining certified training site status, and for certifying course instructors and curriculum. Certified training centers are required to maintain multiple hosts and devices onsite in order to demonstrate competence with fieldbus technology. They are also audited to ensure their course material adheres to set instructional standards covering fieldbus segment limits; device replacements; commands, icons, menus and screen designs of different software packages; and communication, scheduling and function block assignments enabling configuration.
In addition, certified instructors are audited to see if they have achieved specified Fieldbus Foundation training goals. Instructors must demonstrate expertise in areas such as Human-Machine Interface (HMI) tools, fieldbus troubleshooting, simple device configuration, and device deployment and functionality across a fieldbus network.