Cedia Installer Boot Camp: The Last 10 Feet

Although I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, I was a high-school A/V geek. Some kids go out for track or baseball, others for student theater. But I, along with my (still) best friend Burt, found my haven in a small interior office full of rolling TV carts and overhead projectors. Following our 2 years of dedicated service, Burt and I were singled out at our graduation ceremony to jointly receive - no kidding here - the Murray Berhang Memorial Audio/Visual Award. I still don't know who Murray was or what he did to deserve such distinction, but I'm still grateful that someone had set up a scholarship fund attached to the award. It amounted to a whopping $26 - which Burt and I dutifully spent on beer and munchies on graduation night. The framed award certificate now hangs in my office at Sound & Vision.

Which is, I guess, my roundabout way of saying that we get what we ask for in this life - and if I've always enjoyed being around TVs and sound equipment, I'm fortunate to have made a career of it. I was reminded of that recently when CEDIA - the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association - invited me to return to its Indianapolis training center for one of its newest courses, the Electronics Systems Technician Advanced Residential Boot Camp.

As you might recall, Making the Grade (October 2006) recounted my first trip to the CEDIA EST Basic Residential Boot Camp. That was a crash course in the mechanics of home theater installation - reading project documents, running cables, mounting speakers, and generally avoiding little mistakes that can lead to big trouble later.

Advanced Boot Camp takes installers "the last 10 feet," which includes (among other things) hooking up A/V components, calibrating HDTVs, and measuring and optimizing room acoustics. As such, it's the ultimate feast for an A/V enthusiast - even a smartass like me who thinks he already knows everything - and a critical link for install technicians. You can do a terrific job on the stuff behind the walls, but if the room itself doesn't look and sound great in the end, what have you got?

As we introduced ourselves on the first morning, I was struck by how many of the guys had been drawn to CEDIA by their own passion for audio/video and their intent to start a custom-installation business. With eight students, this was a small Boot Camp (15 to 20 is typical), but it was still easy to find excited career-forgers.