ASTM Training Modules: Anytime, Anywhere

Cicely Enright

ASTM International's self-guided, computer-based training modules for construction materials and petroleum technicians boost performance and certification exam preparation.

Gain a professional edge - for your staff or yourself - with self-guided, computer-based online training modules on concrete and petroleum from ASTM International.

Start with thorough content developed and updated with technical expert supervision; add a comprehensive mix of materials in video, checklist, text and quiz form; and blend with the convenience of access anytime, from anywhere, through one access point. The final product? A formula for success in both construction materials technician training programs (including concrete strength testing, field testing and aggregate testing) and petroleum lab technician training (both video and complete modules, with more coming soon).

Construction Materials Technician Training

The training in concrete strength and field testing, developed under the direct supervision of a licensed professional civil engineer, promotes technician proficiency and preparation for certification exams offered by the American Concrete Institute, the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies or state agencies such as departments of transportation. The recently added aggregate testing training joins the concrete courses with the same approach and format.

The concrete field testing training is a useful tool, according to John Halverson, laboratory manager at the Materials Division of Calportland, Los Angeles, Calif., who uses the modules with students in their training classes. The pass rate among the more than 500 Southern California concrete industry employees working toward ACI level one certification is higher than the national average, he adds, and he credits the training as contributing to that success. "It's easy for them on lunch break or whenever to look at the information," Halverson says.

The construction materials training modules include:

  • Complete texts of the ASTM International standards;
  • Slide presentations covering essential content from the standards;
  • Hands-on video demonstrations by experts;
  • Step-by-step outlines of the procedures;
  • Glossaries of essential terms; and
  • Self-guided review quizzes with automatic grading.

The module quizzes enable students to gain even more from the technician training, according to Rod Elderton, chairman of the certification committee of the ACI Southern California Chapter, Santee, Calif., with the questions reinforcing students' comprehension of the standards. Elderton adds that it's helpful for students to have the videos for ongoing viewing and reference as well.

A sample training module can be found online for C231, Test Method for Air Content of Freshly Mixed Concrete by the Pressure Method, which takes the user through the standard and its application. Beginning with the introduction, the materials explain the effect of air bubbles on concrete's durability and strength. With the stage set, the training provides presentations on:

  • Equipment, calibration and the aggregate correction factor;
  • Specimen preparation and test procedure; and
  • Calculations.

The training also has video demonstrations of:

  • Air content/pressure;
  • Meter calibration; and
  • Aggregate correction factor.

An outline of C231, a glossary and a quiz, plus a help document, are also included.

Petroleum Training

More than 40 videos demonstrating ASTM International petroleum tests form the core of the petroleum laboratory technician training. The tests detail procedures for flash point and viscosity, sulfur and ash, and oxygenates and lubricity, among others.

The videos can increase comprehension of procedures, according to Amy Meacock, quality, HSE and compliance manager – Americas, for Intertek Commodities, a worldwide group of testing laboratories. "A lab employee will read a method and gain some understanding, but to be able to read the method and then immediately watch a video that demonstrates exactly what was read is extremely useful," Meacock says. She adds that the videos will help training to be consistent in all Intertek locations and free up training time for any specific site considerations, such as testing a particular product.

Chris McCullough, vice president of support services for Inspectorate, Houston, Texas, a firm specializing in testing, inspection and certification, notes that the company is in the process of incorporating the videos into its training program and is looking forward to realizing their potential. He gives an example from D445, Test Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (and Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity). Section 11.2 says that suction or pressure needs to be used to adjust the test sample head level in the instrument to a specific point; for the analyst unfamiliar with some of the terminology, performing the test for the first time could be a challenge. "If, however, an analyst was reading the standard as he was watching an ASTM video of how this is actually performed, then it makes perfect sense, and the analyst is able to comprehend what the standard is stating," McCullough says. Additional benefits include the anytime/anywhere availability, and that it will improve the consistency and comprehensiveness of the training.

Additional content is being developed that will provide checklists, presentations on essential content from the petroleum testing standards, outlines and quizzes. Meacock feels that ASTM International's review and maintenance will be a benefit. "With ASTM maintaining the checklists and quizzes and keeping them in line with the current version of the standard, this is a tremendous help," she says.

Coming Soon

ASTM will soon debut aggregate base testing, cement testing and self-consolidating concrete testing modules, and is also considering the addition of similar modules for such areas as environmental assessment as well as what modules might be of use in college and university courses.

A performance management system will soon be rolled out to provide the capability for customers to set up learning plans and track learning progress as well as run reports. The system will enhance the existing learning management system - the ASTM Learning Center - which already provides a single access and tracking point for course subscribers.

For more information about all available ASTM International training courses, click here, or contact ASTM Sales (phone: 877-909-ASTM).

The Concrete Field, Concrete Strength and Aggregate Testing Training Courses

Concrete Field Testing

Concrete field testing bundles modules for seven standards associated with sampling and testing fresh concrete in the field as well as three educational modules on ready-mixed concrete and concrete technology. The standards include:

  • C31/C31M, Practice for Making and Curing Concrete Test Specimens in the Field;
  • C138/C138M, Test Method for Density (Unit Weight), Yield and Air Content (Gravimetric) of Concrete;
  • C143/C143M, Test Method for Slump of Hydraulic Cement Concrete;
  • C172/C172M, Practice for Sampling Freshly Mixed Concrete;
  • C173/C173M, Test Method for Air Content of Freshly Mixed Concrete by the Volumetric Method;
  • C231/C231M, Test Method for Air Content of Freshly Mixed Concrete by the Pressure Method; and
  • C1064/C1064M, Test Method for Temperature of Freshly Mixed Hydraulic Cement Concrete.

Concrete Strength Testing

Concrete strength testing covers laboratory strength checks and has educational modules on general concrete technology. The following standards are part of the module:

  • C1231/C1231M, Practice for Use of Unbonded Caps in Determination of Compressive Strength of Hardened Concrete Cylinders;
  • C39/C39M, Test Method for Compressive Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens;
  • C78/C78M, Test Method for Flexural Strength of Concrete (Using Simple Beam with Third Point Loading); and
  • C617/C617M, Practice for Capping Cylindrical Concrete Specimens.

Aggregate Testing Training

Aggregate testing modules address eight standards used for aggregate testing consistent with the standards in the American Concrete Institute's level one aggregate testing technician. It also demonstrates procedures for calibrating various pieces of testing equipment. The standards are:

  • C40/C40M, Test Method for Organic Impurities in Fine Aggregates for Concrete;
  • C117, Test Method for Materials Finer than 75-?m (No. 200) Sieve in Mineral Aggregates by Washing;
  • C127, Test Method for Density, Relative Density (Specific Gravity) and Absorption of Coarse Aggregate;
  • C128, Test Method for Density, Relative Density (Specific Gravity) and Absorption of Fine Aggregate;
  • C136, Test Method for Sieve Analysis of Fine and Coarse Aggregates
  • C566, Test Method for Total Evaporable Moisture Content of Aggregate by Drying;
  • C702/C702M, Practice for Reducing Samples of Aggregate to Testing Size; and
  • D75/D75M, Practice for Sampling Aggregates.

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