Learning the Ropes at Architectural Glass Boot Camp

I joined the National Glass Association just a few weeks ago as the assistant editor for Glass Magazine and sister publication Window & Door. But I’ve already had a small taste of what this industry is all about by attending an Architectural Glass Boot Camp, presented by the Architectural Glass Institute and C.R. Laurence Co., on Thursday, Jan. 26. As a former educator, I was excited that my first industry event was focused on education.

The event was one of a series of boot camps hosted by AGI at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia. The boot camps offer individuals across the industry—glaziers, architects, reps and building managers—the opportunity to learn about new innovations and best practices in architectural glazing.

This particular event was a collaboration between CRL and the AGI, and focused on glass railings. The AIA/CES-approved session qualifed for 3 Health, Safety and Wellness learning units. Representatives from CRL began the boot camp with an hour-long technical presentation. Following the session, we stepped into FTI’s 20,000-square-foot glazier learning space for two hours of hands-on learning.

Boot camp attendees were first given a chance to participate in a demonstration of glass railing installation conducted by students and trainers in FTI’s glazing apprenticeship program. The demonstration included each step of a railing installation, from measuring to drilling to installing the glass panel. Demonstrators talked through each step and answered questions along the way. The initial demonstration wrapped up with a pane of glass installed into the base shoe using wedge shims and CRL’s Taper-Loc dry-glaze system. Participants then stayed for another hour working through each detail of an installation, the focus always on education and proper training. 

After the demonstration, I caught up with the other boot camp participants and found that everyone had a specific takeaway.  Some focused on the demonstration. “It was a good experience because coming from a different trades background it was very educational to see these components assembled in person,” says Rob Ritter, project manager, Advanced Glass & Metal. “It gives me a better understanding of how [the products] are used and therefore can enhance my productivity in estimating projects using them in the future.”

Ron Pulone, a contract glazier of 30 years, was attracted by the technical information offered in the informational session. Now with Keystone Aluminum & Glass, he says he plans to bring his glazing experience with him as he transitions into engineering. He has attended other FTI boot camps, and reminisced about his own apprentice program, which was housed in one classroom. FTI has certainly expanded beyond that.

The boot camp offered a look at what some in the building industry are doing to face one of its most major challenges: educating a new workforce. Touring the facility, it was clear how it was constructed to serve the learning needs of FTI’s own apprentice and journeyman students, which supply the area’s construction industry. The largely open space includes stations to complete guided practice in everything from welding to blue-print-making to creating and testing mockups. Students who complete mockups can also practice attaching them to a real-world, three-story building structure that is located just yards away. My favorite part of our comprehensive tour was the chance to attempt a simulated weld on a machine that allows instructors to evaluate a virtual real-time readout (My score? 67/100). 

Take a virtual tour of the training and the FTI facility in our photo gallery.

 

Norah Dick is assistant editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at ndick@glass.org. 

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