Ask and ye shall receive - ASPE's Technical Symposium.

The one request I receive from readers that is extremely difficult to answer is where they can take a short course on plumbing engineering design. These short courses just don't seem to exist. I know what is really being requested: “I know the profession, I just want to know more about certain design aspects.” The problem is that everyone who asks me this question has a different design aspect that they are interested in. Some want more on venting, others on the ins and outs of drainage, still others on specialty areas such as grease interceptors, fountains or backflow.

Well, I can finally answer the question of where you can take a short course. The last weekend in October (Oct. 28-30), ASPE will hold its Technical Symposium in Chicago at the Crown Plaza O'Hare. You will have the opportunity to take a variety of courses over two and a half days.

ASPE holds its Technical Symposium every two years. Unlike the annual convention, there is no show, plus the training seminars are not short one- or two-hour programs. Each seminar is three and a half hours in length. Rather than a cursory overview of the topic, each program delves, in depth, into the subject matter.

This year, ASPE has done everything right. The symposium is centrally located in Chicago. I don't think there is an easier city to fly into in the United States. I don't say that because I live in the area, I say it from experience in that I can get to most places on a direct flight from O'Hare.

Plus, since it is a hub, the airfares are normally inexpensive. The hotel only costs $119 per night with a free shuttle from the airport. You can't stay in a top-rate hotel for this low a cost in the city of Chicago. While it is not downtown, a short El (train) ride for $1.75 puts you in the heart of the Loop.

The symposium has also been expanded so that plumbing contractors can attend. Contractors can receive the member discount price if they are members of PHCC, MCAA, ASSE, IAPMO or ICC. Of course, members of ASPE automatically receive the discount price.

The cost for two and a half days of training is only $350. Yes, you read that right. The low price for the entire symposium also includes a free lunch on Friday and Saturday. I receive brochures daily for one-day seminars that are twice that price and without a lunch.

The Education

There are five tracks of educational programs. The first track is plumbing engineering basics. The seminars that are offered address hot water design, water pipe sizing, drainage design, venting design, storm drainage design and fuel gas piping systems; a complete overview of design requirements for plumbing systems.

The other four tracks include green building and LEEDs, specialty plumbing systems, advance plumbing systems, and fire protection. One of the hottest areas in construction is green building. The LEEDs point system is one method of establishing the level of green building design. In the green building track, the seminars focus on various aspects of green building design for plumbing systems - storm water reuse, commissioning of plumbing systems and radiant heating.

In the specialty area, the Technical Symposium has classes on food handling establishments, fountain design, stadiums and drinking fountains. Advanced programs include high-rise design, pharmaceutical facilities, high purity water and medical gas.

The fire protection section is very interesting. The program starts with the chemistry and physics of fire. This program will provide insight into fire movement during a building or structure fire. It will include information relating to protecting pipe penetrations and shaft enclosures of piping systems. The program is followed by a trip to Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook, Ill. The tour of UL includes a visit to all of the fire test laboratories.

The remaining programs in the fire protection track include fire pumps, various fire suppression systems and CPVC fire sprinkler systems. The CPVC program will be especially insightful if you are either involved in or considering the residential sprinkler business.

State Credit

ASPE has managed to secure continuing education credits for most state licenses. If your state requires continuing education to maintain your license, you can contact ASPE to see if they have already obtained approval. If they do not yet have approval for a given state, they are submitting approval requests for each inquiry.

For many licenses, all of the continuing education can be obtained during the Technical Symposium. Plus, the course will be of a high caliber that will provide valuable insight into the details of our profession.

An additional bonus available during the symposium is a tour of the Sloan Valve plant. The Sloan plant is about two miles from the hotel. Sloan has arranged to provide a shuttle service from the hotel to the plant on Thursday afternoon. I have had the luxury of taking many plant tours, including Viega, Gerber, Kohler, Wirsbo, Vanguard, Chicago Faucet, Wolverine Brass and Tyler Pipe. All of these tours have been very educational to me. I have also taken the very tour that Sloan will be offering. It is a great tour, and I would encourage you to plan on arriving early on Thursday.

The ASPE Technical Symposium is geared up to be the greatest symposium ever. You have asked for an economical short course in every aspect of plumbing design. Well, here it is!

To register or get detailed information, visit the ASPE Web site at I will be there, and I hope to see you, too. Stop by and say hello sometime during the symposium.