FenestrationMasters Gives Manufacturers an Edge

Rich Walker
September 8, 2010
COLUMN : Industry Watch | Operations

A large portion of our discussions about the industry in the recent past have had an economic component to them, as the recession has made budgets tighter and staffs thinner. Belt-tightening has caused a big slowdown in home starts and in construction projects which has lowered the demand for building products. This downturn has been difficult for manufacturers, but at the same time been good for the customer, as companies are now going to extra lengths to compete for business in order to stand out from competitors.

So the question becomes, how do you add value to your company in a down economy? This is a time when budgets and staff are reduced, but there is still a need to attract customers now as well as to put companies in a position to pick up speed more quickly once the economy more fully recovers. One way to accomplish this is through additional education and certification for staff members. Ensuring that employees are well-trained and knowledgeable helps companies to differentiate themselves as well as provide increased value to the customer.

AAMA FenestrationMasters, a new nationwide certification program for professionals in the window, door, skylight, curtain wall, storefront and sloped glazing industries, seeks to improve the level of knowledge of the various aspects of the fenestration industry. First debuted at the GlassBuild America show held in September, FenestrationMasters offers its requisite coursework online through the National Glass Association’s MyWindowClass.com platform. The online format allows individuals to complete the required coursework at their own pace and convenience, simply through access to any computer with an internet connection.

The FenestrationMasters program is intended for technical managers at manufacturing companies, manufacturers’ sales and customer service personnel, distributors, dealers and installers. Architects, engineers, and other professionals in the building industry who have interaction with fenestration elements of buildings can also benefit from the curriculum. The AAMA Certified Professional Program-trained and certified individuals that will soon begin graduating as FenestrationMasters can become more knowledgeable about fenestration products and their application. This broader knowledge base can prove to be a genuine help to product buyers from professional specifiers to contractors to homeowners.

To obtain certification, individuals must complete a set of required courses covering a wide range of subjects, including performance standards, product and material types and code requirements–most of which are based upon consensus-based AAMA standards–and then successfully pass the FenestrationMasters certification exam. The coursework consists of required core curriculum, as well as additional courses chosen from an array of electives.

The core curriculum is divided into three levels:

  • Level 1 covers window selection (window types and design considerations), the requirements of the North American Fenestration Standard (currently AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/IS2/A440-08) and glass types and selection. The intent of this curriculum is not to train people to actually perform the tests required with the referenced standards, rather it is to make them understand what testing is done, why it’s done and what it means in terms of product performance.
  • Level 2 addresses coatings and finishes, basic installation methods and flashing and field testing.
  • Level 3 encompasses code requirements, AAMA certification, energy efficiency and thermal performance.

The list of elective courses currently available include sunrooms, sloped glazing, green/sustainable building, aluminum curtain wall design, aluminum storefront and entrance systems, sealants and adhesives, fenestration anchorage, acoustical ratings, impact resistance and tornado-resistant windows. The courses range from 30 minutes to two hours in duration.

Additional elective courses will be offered on skylights and daylighting, window and door hardware, blast hazard mitigation, profile material considerations and energy.

Our goal in launching FenestrationMasters is to help companies differentiate their business and increase their credibility by offering customers access to employees who are thoroughly educated on fenestration products, performance issues, standards, configurations, code requirements and applications.

The program has been designed to contain information helpful for new employees and veterans alike, and can be a useful resource to help companies get new employees up to speed quickly–a need we look forward to as rehiring ramps up to align with the economic recovery and to take advantage of new federal tax incentives.


Rich Walker is president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, 847/303-5664, rwalker@aamanet.org.