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At Your Fingertips

Put a computer mouse in the hand of anyone under the age of 17 or so, and it feels as familiar as a crayon; they can’t remember a time its use wasn’t second-nature. After more than a dozen years with my hand hovering over a trackball for hours at the office, I’m feeling pretty conditioned to its use, too, and a whole mindset of convenience and autonomy has grown up for me and millions of others in front of the computer screen.

So it’s no wonder the convenience and autonomy of online learning has made the Internet a great tool for educators, from colleges and universities to any organization that offers continuing education to professionals. ASTM International is one of those organizations, with its Technical and Professional Training Program. The TPT Program was established in the late 1980s to provide classes in which users of ASTM standards could receive training on the application of those standards by the technical experts who helped develop them. I remember, throughout the ’90s, watching the growth of the TPT program as I proofread the monthly ASTM Calendar section of this magazine; it seemed every month there were more and more classes scheduled around the world on the proper use of standards for textiles, plastics, petroleum, and more.

The TPT section of the ASTM Calendar isn’t nearly so hefty these days, but that is no reflection of the vitality of this program. Today, increasingly, TPT classes don’t need times, dates or locations. In this month’s issue of SN, Scott Murphy, director of ASTM Educational Services, explains why, in his article “ASTM International University.” For several years, his program had successfully sought to make attendance at its courses more convenient by offering them “on-site,” that is, to employees at their own facilities. Now, they’ve gone to the next step, by beginning to offer many courses right in your computer, over the Internet. Of course, there is no intention of eliminating access to standards training in-person; popular courses will continue to be offered around the world, and employers can always request that a TPT class be brought to their site, with a real, live human at the head of the class. But for those of you who have grown, like me, accustomed to the convenience and autonomy of education and other services at your fingertips, this new addition to the TPT program may be just the thing to encourage greater familiarity with the standards you use every day.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

Copyright 2003, ASTM