BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Ron Bernstein and Ken Sinclair
Ron Bernstein, LonMark International’s Executive Director
is a global membership organization created to promote and advance the
business of efficient and effective integration of open, multi-vendor
control systems utilizing ISO/IEC 14908-1 and related standards. The
organization is widely recognized for its LonMark Certified
Professional (LCP) program with over 800 certifications worldwide, and
LonMark Product Certification program with over 1000 certified
products. The LCP program typically required students attend a live,
onsite or web based class, which had restricted the reach of the
Recently LonMark International launched the LonMark Credentialing Institute for people, products and companies supporting the international ISO/IEC 14908-x family of control-networking standards and the greater building automation, streetlighting, and smart city markets.
Fueled by strong global demand for further education and certification, LonMark has announced a collection of “anytime, anywhere” educational courses that are self-paced and in multiple languages. Current offerings include the LonMark Refresher Class as preparation for the LCP exam, and the new Building Automation Program which focuses on the high level concepts of smart buildings, interoperability, specification, and design.
Additional courses on the horizon include smart grid and smart building convergence, streetlighting and advanced smart city applications, and building IoT solutions; all specifically designed to more easily and cost-effectively prepare for LonMark’s various credentials.
To learn more about the LonMark Credentialing Institute and how its new online offerings can benefit people, products and companies worldwide, see below Q&A with Executive Director for LonMark International, Ron Bernstein.
Why is LonMark now offering its credentialing programs online?
Bernstein: Whether a product, individual or system integrator, having a LonMark certification has long been a highly valued credential that helps accelerate market adoption, boost careers and provide the industry with seasoned and highly trained professionals proficient in the planning, development, installation, and support of integrated systems. Being a non-profit, independent organization, LonMark’s training and testing programs are not product or solution specific. The classes focus on concepts, technology, and the design of solutions based on the principles of open, interoperable and customer/user focused value, rather than on product features and vendor specific implementations. Unfortunately, not everyone wanting this coveted training and credential has been able to travel to LonMark training and testing centers.
In addition, being a worldwide organization, we recognize the challenge to offer programs applicable to multiple countries and multiple languages. We have support from our members and intend to create language and region specific programs. Currently the LCP program is available in English, German, and Spanish with Japanese in development.
With Internet access available virtually anywhere worldwide, anyone – or any company - wanting to get further education, or take and pass our certification programs, can do so, and at their own pace and without the time or cost of traveling to the testing centers. Developing the courses for online access, with no live instructor, also makes it much easier to partner with universities and trade schools to offer the programs to their students as well. We are in discussion with several institutions that want offer the added value of an industry recognized credential to better prepare students for the job market.
Sinclair: Which types of certifications are available online?
Bernstein: We have a proven track record of accelerating market adoption through the LonMark Certified Products program utilizing our online device testing toolset. This program was the foundation of the LonMark Interoperability Association, now LonMark International, founded in 1994.
Successful implementation of a multi-vendor control network requires devices from multiple manufacturers work together or “interoperate” without the need for costly gateways and controllers. These products are certified to interoperate regardless of manufacturer. The LonMark standards have proven to enable interoperability so successfully, that no “plug fests” have been needed. LonMark Task Groups develop the interoperability requirements of devices and set the requirements. If a product has been designed to the standards and certified, it WILL interoperate according to the device’s profile requirements. Integrators find this extremely valuable when installing and commissioning projects. Less time on the job site improves costs and value for all. So, simply specify that products shall be certified. That’s the core certification program for products offered by LonMark.
Being a LonMark Certified Professional (LCP) (or Certified Technician or Certified Building Automation Specialist) provides substantial competitive advantages as well. Individuals become valuable resources to their customers, colleagues and company. They also expand their brand awareness with premium visibility in the online directory, the use of LonMark logos on their business cards and collateral, invitations to speak at trade events and in webinars, etc. Project managers want to know that the people working on their jobs are qualified. We make it simple for them to specify the proficiency level and qualifications required. This program provides a high level of confidence that the people doing the work are educated and competent to do the job.
Last but not least, our Certified System Integrator (CSI) program provides an industry pool of seasoned, professional integration firms that employ a staff of trained LCPs and are proficient in the planning, development, installation, and support of integrated systems. This program is undergoing several changes and enhancements to make it more accessible and provide greater value to integration companies and to provide a stronger “alliance” of support for our members and their customers.
Sinclair: What courses are available and what do you have planned for the future?
Bernstein: With the launch of the LonMark Credentialing Institute, the first online programs are:
The Building Automation certification program includes the following training modules as:
This is designed as a multi-week course
complete with reference materials, resources, and the availability of a
class binder with all of the lecture material included. After each
module there is an assessment quiz to help anchor the concepts
presented. Students who complete this course receive their credential
and certificate as a LonMark Building Automation Professional.
The LonMark Refresher Class is available for those already familiar with LonWorks and are preparing for the LCP test. This is a one day class with 9 modules covering the complete certification test elements. The LonWorks Installation Handbook is the primary reference guide and reading assignments follow each module. The online class is currently offered in English, and the handbook and test in English, German, and Spanish. We intend to have the course translated into multiple languages in the coming year.
The LonMark Certified Professional exam is a two hour, 120 multiple-choice question test developed by member experts. The new platform streamlines the process for taking the test. Students used to have to go to a testing center. Now the test can be administered from any location, at any time, with access from any computer with a standard browser. LonMark has invested significant development time and energy into launching this new platform, all based upon requests worldwide for better accessibility.
We also offer a complete bundled program including:
This offering is the most cost-effective and complete program available and targets new people entering this industry or those that have never been formally educated but are familiar with the concepts. We anticipate this full program will become the benchmark in the industry.
How do others know we’ve received a certificate?
Bernstein: We have an
online database of certified professionals, certified products, and
certified companies that highlight all of the valuable resources for
the industry. They are accessible at www.lonmark.org/certified
Are the courses available in languages besides English?
the building automation and refresher classes are available in English
and the LonMark Certified Professional test is available in English,
German and Spanish with Japanese in development. We anticipate having
the online refresher class available in German and Spanish soon.
Sinclair: How can educational institutions work with LonMark to offer these courses in a traditional classroom environment?
Bernstein: LonMark is able to license all of the material for the courses to any institution interested in preparing students for the job market. With the added advantage of an industry recognized credential, we believe students will see greater value than just a trade certificate. LonMark also has a job placement service partner that will help match job seekers with employers. Any institution interested in offering these classes can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are able to provide a Train-the-Trainer program to help instructors get started.
Sinclair: Where can people learn more about the training and testing programs and register?
Bernstein: More information is on our website including a FAQ, costs, and registration links at www.lonmark.org/training. Online registration requires requesting a user id and password from email@example.com. Once you have access, you can register and take any class online, any time you wish. The training and testing platform is hosted on a separate secure server at https://test.lonmark.org.
Sinclair: Anything else you’d like to share the new online courses?
Bernstein: LonMark has several other online education programs in development and we are seeking instructors and course content developers willing to help better educate the industry. We don’t want to limit the course offering to just technical content or even just LonWorks.
Many people are familiar with our long tradition of offering free educational programs at trade shows and conferences. The sad news is that so many great programs are seen by so few people. We intend to record and offer these programs through the LonMark Credentialing Institute for those unable to attend in person. We have a sampling of these seminars now on our website at www.lonmark.org/presentations. Soon we will transition these and others to the new platform and build specific courses to enable greater access.
We’re looking forward to expanding the global awareness of LonMark International and our vision to provide a broad range of educational programs through these online programs.
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