There's a brand new non-profit on the block, but the model for this organization is anything but. Officially launched recently to promote the application of structured cabling through education, certification, and training, the Structured Cabling Association (SCA), based in Escondido, Calif., is the brainchild of several of the same founders of the highly successful Fiber Optic Association (FOA) started more than a decade ago. Jim Hayes, one of the founders of FOA as well as the new endeavor, SCA, says it became obvious over the last several years that it was time for a similar program for the structured cabling industry.

Joining Hayes on the board of directors for the SCA are several other well-known industry veterans, including Jim's wife Karen Hayes, Tom Collins of Gateway Community College in Cincinnati, and Patrick Baker of the Sage Group.

According to Hayes, the organization's charter is to promote practical training and affordable certification to schools, encouraging them to teach cabling in conjunction with their networking and computer courses. The SCA is not a member organization. Instead, it will offer approved certifications, which cost only $25 each, through affiliated schools and online support to the cabling industry at no charge for admission.

The SCA will not have a required curriculum, only standards for training. Schools can create their own or purchase them from other training organizations. The certification will be based on Data Voice and Video Cabling, written by Jim Hayes and former EC&M Editorial Consultant Paul Rosenberg. Accompanied by an Instructor's Guide and Laboratory Manual, the textbook is published by Delmar/Thomson Learning, Clifton Park, N.Y. Other materials will be drawn from appropriate standards and codes. Exams will be developed by the a board of advisors intimately familiar with structured cabling standards and practices. This group of experts will determine the criteria for the SCA CCT (Certified Cabling Technician) designation.

The goal of SCA-approved training is to teach the basic technology and practice of structured cabling to prepare students for successful transition from classroom to the field. The SCA CCT is designed to be a measure of competence for structured cabling installers. Since most networks today incorporate UTP copper, fiber optics and wireless technologies, the SCA CCT must cover all three, says Hayes. The focus is on installation, not network design, which he says is the responsibility of architects and professional engineers.

Hayes says the SCA is already picking up momentum, hitting the streets with a couple dozen approved schools and garnering the support of several industry experts and cabling manufacturers. “They all recognize that this is what the industry needs,” Hayes says. “The credibility is already there so it's not going to be like the FOA, which was a slow buildup. I think the turn on's going to be pretty fast.”