InfoComm 2016 was a momentous occasion for newcomer to the AV design industry Tim Pile, CTS®. Three weeks into his new job as audio-video engineering designer with Wichita, Kansas-based Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A. (PEC), Pile was headed to Las Vegas for a convention he’d previously never even heard of. His mission was to take the AVIXA AV Design 1: Environment class to gain a deeper knowledge of AV and learn more about the industry.

Tim Pile, CTS | AVIXA Tim Pile, CTS

Pile's AV immersion began as a teenager helping his pastor father run sound at church, and then later as a media producer at several other churches and for the Wichita Wingnuts baseball team. When his brother, a project manager in the Mechanical Division at PEC, heard about an AV design position in the Electrical Engineering Department, he hooked him up with PEC Electrical Engineer Marc Jones, CTS-D.

"I had literally two days to learn about AV systems such as Crestron and Extron, words I'd never even heard before," recalls Pile. "I went online and started doing research and watching videos, and kept coming across InfoComm. I remember thinking 'this InfoComm seems really cool'."

At his interview, he was asked if he’d heard of InfoComm and was relieved that he was able to sound at least somewhat knowledgeable. "When they offered me the job, I was told I'd be going to the conference in Vegas in three weeks!"

His new company signed him up to take the three-day AV Design: Environment class at InfoComm. "I hadn't realized that this was actually a prep class for CTS-D. I was one of the only people in that class that didn't already have their CTS. But I was able to draw on my knowledge and experience with the church and the baseball team and found that I understood most of what was being taught. I felt like I was in the right place," says Pile.

This didn't go unnoticed by class instructor Chuck Espinosa, CTS-D, CTS-I, "I was pretty surprised, considering a few weeks earlier, I didn't even know that the association existed, and I told Chuck, thank you, but I don’t think so. But he kept on at me and it started to build my confidence, so I thought 'Maybe I can do this'."

Pile had set himself a nine-month goal of studying and taking his CTS, hoping that he could work his way up to it and show his new employer that he was worthy of a long-term position in the company. "And there I was at the show, telling my new manager I'm going to take the CTS," he says. "There was a moment of hesitation, considering the cost, but Mark said OK."

Of course, the rest is history. Pile passed his CTS, wrote his name on the CTS wall at InfoComm 2016 amid great fanfare, and was able to prove not only to himself, but to his seniors that he was the right guy for the job.

"That was really important to me. Because I took a creative route into this career. I didn't go to engineering school and I don't have an engineering degree, and I wanted my new employer to feel like they took a chance on the right person. Getting my CTS really validated that," says Pile.

Back home after the glittering lights of Vegas, Pile found he was immediately using the knowledge he’d acquired at InfoComm on local projects, using AV math and making AutoCAD drawings for the first time. And now, reflecting on the past few months, he is more assured than ever that he is where he should be.

"Every other job I’ve had has been just a job. Now I feel like I have arrived. This is my career. I love working at PEC, it's an awesome work environment and I absolutely love this industry. I know I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life."