Visible Emissions Training Program improved for 2017-18

Men take part in a PSFEI Smoke School field test as smoke rises from the stack of a pickup truck

Smoke School attendees participate in the field test portion of the training during the Spring 2017 program held at University Park.

Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute (PSFEI) has announced schedule information for its 2017-18 Visible Emissions Training Program. Casually known as “Smoke School,” the program is designed for individuals who want to become certified in areas of air pollution prevention, technology, regulation, measurement and science.

Hinting at a long list of improvements the team has made to the program, PSFEI Director John Hajduk said, “Our breadth and depth across all technical disciplines, along with experience and expertise running educational programs nationally set the stage to optimize and grow a successful program such as Smoke School.” 

Echoing Hajduk, William Lash, PSFEI’s educational program manager, added, “With our team of highly skilled and experienced instructors, a PSFEI-led program is a natural fit,” Lash continued. “PSFEI assists our clients with increasing boiler efficiency and making purchasing decisions on new high efficiency equipment. We have the expertise to reduce the opacity from the smoke stack, so we can go well beyond the testing to actually assist customers with correcting their air quality problems.”

Over the past year, the project team has made a number of improvements to the Smoke School program, including a redesign of the smoke generator to reduce the need to burn toluene, development of a data management system to ensure proper records management, and alteration of course materials to provide certification for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Methods 22 and 203 A, B, C, as well as Method 9, which was previously the sole certification offered by the program. To cater to its many Commonwealth customers, PSFEI also made the decision to provide discounted rates to all state and federal customers.

Also, new for 2017-18 is the addition of a new training location. To accommodate customers in industrialized areas of Pennsylvania, the institute will hold its first ever smoke school program on the Penn State Erie, The Behrend College campus. “In past years, customers in the Northwest region interested in attending our Smoke School program needed to travel to Penn State Greater Allegheny,” said Lash. “By adding a program in Erie, we hope to be able to reach a larger audience and make the certification more accessible to those who need it.”

2017-18 Smoke School schedule:

Penn State Behrend, 4701 College Dr., Erie, Pennsylvania

• Oct. 24-25, 2017

• April 24-25, 2018

• Oct. 23-24, 2018

Penn State Greater Allegheny, 4000 University Dr., McKeesport, Pennsylvania

• Oct. 3-4, 2017

• April 3-4, 2018

Penn State Lehigh Valley, 2809 East Saucon Valley Rd., Center Valley, Pennsylvania

• Oct. 10-11, 2017

• April 10-11, 2018

Penn State University Park, The Penn State Conference Center Hotel, Innovation Blvd., State College, Pennsylvania

• Oct. 17-18, 2017

• April 17-18, 2018

Smoke School presents technical information on opacity, but does not require formal education in sciences, engineering or technology. Program participants are trained to visually read the opacity of industrial plumes and conduct tests in accordance with EPA Method 9, 22 and 203 A, B, C. Participants who complete the training and pass the field test receive certification as an individual who has become familiar with Title V (Title 5) regulations and enforcement practices. For more information about Smoke School, visit

The Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute provides facilities engineering services, education programs and energy management to Pennsylvania state agencies, the federal government and nonprofit organizations. The organization aims to advance its customers’ facilities engineering objectives through applied research, education and innovation.