ETA Stays at the Cutting Edge of Fiber Optic Technology

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The fiber optics industry is an ever-evolving one, so ETA® International Fiber Optic Subject Matter Experts met recently to update the program competencies and exams. The major driving force behind the widespread use of fiber optics communication is the high and rapidly increasing demand for more telecommunication capacity and internet services, and requires certified professionals with validated skills to design, install and maintain the physical layer of fiber optic systems.

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ETA fiber optic SMEs (L to R): Johnson, Taylor, Glass, Weaver, Maher and Woodward.

Keeping ETA fiber optic certifications current with the latest technologies requires a diverse committee of subject matter experts that have access to the development of standards.

The growth experienced by the fiber optics industry has been enormous and there is still much work to be done to support the need for faster data rates, advanced cleaning techniques and more intelligent network architectures. The trend is expected to continue in the future, leading to a new generation of fiber optics professionals and ETA International intends to lead the way in certifying those installers and technicians.

“Keeping ETA fiber optic certifications current with the latest technologies used in the telecommunications, aerospace, avionics and other industries requires a diverse committee of subject matter experts that have access to the development of standards in these areas,” said Bill Woodward, P. E., FOD, Director of C5ISR Engineering Products with Geodesicx, Inc. and SAE Standards Chair for the AS-3 and AS-5 committees. “Digesting these standards, then translating them into knowledge and hands-on competencies, is a team effort.”

Leading the charge was Light Brigade Founder and CEO, Larry Johnson, who said the committee’s main objective was to address new technologies that have been implemented since the last revisions while anticipating future technologies.

“Updating content to reflect industry trends, including new standards and code changes, was important,” Johnson said. “An example was the incorporation of new OM5 technologies, which were developed for high speed Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) technologies and connectivity in data centers and enterprise networks, and added Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) technologies.”

The committee completed a full review of both the Fiber Optic Installer (FOI) and Fiber Optic Technician (FOT) programs, and took into consideration comments and suggestions submitted by various industry instructors and professionals. Both certification exams were brought up to date by incorporating new industry standards updates and new technologies, questions and answers reworded, graphics modernized and hands-on skills assessments revised.

It was also time to renovate the Fiber Optic Technician – Outside Plant (FOT-OSP) certification competencies, exam and hands-on skills and these updates will be ready to roll out in 2017 as well. Deploying Outside Plant (OSP) services is a big undertaking, requiring significant investment in time and resources. Service providers are under increasing pressure to accelerate their time to market and reduce OSP rollout costs.

The Fiber Optic Designer (FOD) certification competencies and exam were evaluated and are planned for completion sometime in 2018. The Fiber To The Antenna (FTTA) certification was ratified as current since it was just recently developed.

During the meeting, SMEs were privileged to test the patent-pending RMS-1 Rotating Adapter Video Inspection, a 3D fiber optic inspection tool designed by Ed Forrest, Jr., of Fiber Optic Precision Cleaning. A spot on the lens uses the contamination as a reference point as well as helps the technician understand the difference between a contaminate and an artifact.

Following industry best practices and incorporating standards updates, ETA Fiber Optics program includes nine accredited certifications, each with a hands-on component to validate both knowledge and hands-on skills to be successful in today’s industry. In order to offer ETA certifications with a hands-on component, schools and trainers must have a valid course approval for the program. ETA serves in its capacity as a third party to technical education, providing a way for school systems and training providers to validate their courses. Submit an ETA course approval application for fiber optics today.

ETA extends a very special thanks to all the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who have contributed their field knowledge and hands-on expertise to update the fiber optics certification program. The SMEs at the meeting included Johnson; Woodward; Dick Glass, CETma, ETA Founder and CEO Emeritus; ETA President Teresa Maher; ETA Business Development Director Mike Taylor, FOI, PVI; and David Weaver, CSS, ETA Research and Test Development Coordinator.

About ETA - Since 1978, ETA has issued over 150,000 professional certifications. Widely recognized and frequently used in worker job selection, hiring processes, pay increases, and advancements, ETA certifications are often required as companies bid on contracts. ETA’s certifications are personal and travel with the individual, regardless of employment or status change and measure competencies of persons, not products or vendors. All ETA certifications are accredited through the International Certification Accreditation Council (ICAC) and align with the ISO-17024 standard.

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Michele Altman
ETA International
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