Barbara E. Thompson
When The Light Brigade Inc. recently moved into a new facility in Kent, WA, it also added new resources to its fiber-optic training curriculum. The 5700-square-foot building allocates space to promote the company`s continued growth--that is, 25% is for classrooms, 40% for administrative offices and 35% for warehousing.
"We needed more space to accommodate an in-house training center, additional staff and a larger warehouse," says Larry Johnson, Light Brigade president and founder. "We`re also inaugurating a series of new courses--for example, on multimode fiber local area networks, singlemode fiber wide area networks and `teach the trainer.` And, we changed our course format last January from a three-day to a four-day session."
Testing the network live
The new building provides a high-technology environment for both staff and students, with its fiber-to-the-desk network, a new telephone system and all-new classroom furniture and fixtures.
"In-house training allows us to bring more equipment to the hands-on class," says Johnson. "For example, we have active fiber from our network and optical components, such as splitters and wavelength-division multiplexers. We also have panels and enclosures, so we can set up a scenario where students can test the network live."
With the change to a four-day course format and the additional classes scheduled for this year, The Light Brigade has had to increase its staff of full-time instructors. To maintain a good student-teacher ratio, each class has four to six instructors for 25 to 30 students.
"We have two levels of instructors: instructor and a newly created instructor-aide position," Johnson explains. "The aides, who have extensive outside-plant skills, specialize in hands-on training, putting materials together and helping the students in class."
The new course format for in-house training requires more equipment and materials as well. Before the move, the company updated all its course materials and purchased $100,000 of new equipment for the in-house center and on-the-road classes. The additional warehouse space in the new facility provides secure storage for The Light Brigade`s inventory of test equipment, components, course binders and literature.
"Last year, we did 78 classes throughout the United States and Canada, and this year we`re looking at a 50% growth in that number," says Johnson. "Fiber-optic training is definitely a growing industry and, as we manage our growth, we will continue to position our training so that we offer it with no affiliation to specific vendors."
For more information, call (800) 451-7128, or check out the company`s home page at http://www.lightbrigade.com.
If you are interested in registering for the 1996 Fiber Optics 1-2-3 Training Seminars, which are cosponsored by The Light Brigade and the PennWell Communications and Optoelectronics Group (publishers of Cabling News, Cabling Installation & Maintenance, and Lightwave), contact Kathleen McIntosh at tel: (603) 891-9203, fax: (603) 891-0587, or e-mail: kathmc@pennwell. com.