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Rockleigh, NJ 07647
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Crestron Electronics, Inc.

Crestron offers the only complete end-to-end solution with a complete line of hardware and software. Crestron not only connects and controls devices; we integrate and automate all the building systems to provide a connected experience. We deliver integrated solutions for audio, video, IP, lighting and climate control making wiring and installations easier and promoting system integrity.
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Introducing Students to Crestron Technologies: A New Approach
Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2023
Introducing Students to Crestron Technologies: A New Approach

Educating the next generation of technology pros

Dec. 12, 2023 - In 2019, Crestron’s Pro Community Global Director Rich Sasson relocated to Belgium from the US, and what struck him immediately was the preponderance of KNX technologies in a vast number of European projects. When he asked about it, he learned something that would generate a training program back in the States, namely, that there was a concerted effort to teach the standard to workers before they entered the integration industry.

“KNX is taught at high schools and trade schools,” Sasson explains. “This means people learn it at a young age and continue to use it when they graduate and start their careers.”

Sasson found himself stateside as the pandemic took hold and wound up managing Crestron’s training department. He — and others — began to see the opportunity to help address a workforce development issue that had been problematic even before the virus hit.

“They say timing is everything, and that’s certainly true here,” says Sasson.

Lincoln Tech Enters the Picture

In 2021, Sasson received a call from Peter Bellone, an Electrical and Electronic Systems Technology (EEST) course instructor on the Union, NJ campus of Lincoln Technical Institute® trade school, who was looking to update their in-house Crestron gear. Since Crestron was handling all its training virtually at the time, Sasson arranged for a donation.

The students at Lincoln Tech® trade school had begun to return to in-person classes, and Sasson and Bellone saw an opportunity. “We worked with the folks at Lincon Technical Institute to provide the equipment and incorporate the Crestron Technician Certification program into their EEST coursework,” says Sasson.

“We saw a need for the next generation of AV professionals to enter the market,” Sasson adds. “This became especially important as the demand for hybrid workspaces took off. All these factors inspired me to look at other options and programs to partner with to reach that next generation of AV professionals.”

Expanding the Program to Other Schools

While the idea wasn’t necessarily new — that is, giving a tradesperson core training before they ever work on a job site — it has been somewhat novel for the integration industry. “This is an approach other industries have used for years,” says Sasson. “As our industry continues to expand, we’ll need professionals who want to have a successful career in this field — not just those who happen to fall into it.”

“The goal for the first round is for each student to achieve Crestron Technician Certification,” says Sasson, and that program has begun to expand to other schools to meet the growing demand for trained technicians. “Beyond Lincoln Tech, we’re offering the training track to The Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts, Warren High School in Downey, California, Salt Lake City Community College, The Loop Lab, Pace University, and the Ideal Institute of Technology.”

The relevant trade associations also figure into this expansion. “AVIXA, CEDIA, and NSCA have had programs in place to help educate the industry for years,” notes Sasson. “We’re working closely with them to expand our audience.”

Industry Partners

“Our friends Diana Lettkeman at Dish Network and Sean Glumace at 2CPR Group have been very insightful as to what we need from the regulation and process perspectives of incorporating the curriculum into these schools,” says Crestron’s Rich Sasson. “We’ve also gotten a lot of help from Chris Hope at The Loop Lab (a Boston-based nonprofit).”

“Other companies in the industry are interested in helping build the next generation of integration education as well,” he adds.

Those partners include:

Jonathan Seller, AVIXA

Tommy Tabor, CEDIA

Mandy Beckner, Consultant

Kristen Garner, Kramer

Justin Slane, Microsoft

Mariana Pinho, Office Pro Inc

John Garmendi, Sony

Building the Curriculum

Of course, the meat of the program is the curriculum itself. “The good news is the content was already available,” says Sasson. “The training team — which is now under the direction of Chris Sgroe — has been working with the various schools to educate their instructors and get them certified to teach the course.”

And, as with many other educational programs in the post-pandemic world, the training leans on a hybrid learning model. “Most of the course work is available online, and it’s self-paced,” explains Sasson. “Some of the courses are instructor-led online courses, and some are hands-on, in-person courses.”

According to Sasson, there are other ways that Crestron supports this outreach: “We’ve donated classroom systems to Lincoln Technical Institute Union Campus and the Sheffield Institute of Audio Research. We provide hands-on training courses to Warren High School. We’re working closely with Pace University — they’ve launched a minor in AV and are hoping to have a major available in a few years.”

And when Sasson’s asked about his goals for the future, his plans are aspirational — but definitely achievable. “We want to educate and excite the next generation of integration professionals.

“Our goal is to develop an educational community that includes middle and high schools, trade schools, colleges and universities, and to reach out to military veterans and professionals looking to change careers,” he says.

“This goes well beyond educating the current generation of professionals.”

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