Q: I would like to know more about the EIA/TIA committees and meetings. Although my practical experience in cabling systems is limited, I believe that becoming more involved in the standards-making bodies would be an excellent way to gain invaluable knowledge and to make contact with expert technical resources.
A: Many large companies, such as BellSouth, have a standards department that monitors the company`s position and forms its strategies. I recommend that you first check to ensure that you are not stepping on any toes within BellSouth. Most organizations would not want one of their employees making a statement that does not fall in line with their strategic mission.
Contact Shazia Azhar at the TIA, tel: (703) 907-7700, for membership fee information and a meeting schedule.
I have been attending the TR41 committee, TR41.8 subcommittee and the meeting of its working groups since 1992. The meetings are scheduled quarterly--usually one week in March, June, September and December. What follows is my personal opinion based on four years of participation in the TIA and its committees:
End-users and installation contractors are the least-represented segment of the industry. Most members are professional engineers, some in several disciplines. Members are expected to be experts in their field and, for many members, standards work is their primary job.
As with many committees, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the members. Many members are present to protect their companies` interests--not to participate in the work effort.
Most of the work takes place in task groups in meetings or conference calls, in addition to the scheduled quarterly meetings, to discuss various homework assignments. Homework can be anything from round-robin testing of connecting hardware to comments on draft 14 of a TSB that the task group wants to present to the working group for eventual publication.
Always expect the unexpected at meetings. I`ve sat through half-day editing sessions working on a two-sentence paragraph, and I`ve chaired a meeting scheduled to last eight hours that finished in 28 minutes because no one had done his homework.
Participation can be expensive, and I`m not talking about the travel expenses and membership fees, which are the same for participants and observers. I refer to the expense of time commitment.