In this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, host Russel Treat is joined by Matt Ligon, President of the American School of Gas Measurement Technology (ASGMT), to discuss the school, its offerings, and how you can get involved.
Listen to the episode now to learn more about the benefits of being involved with the school and attending, as well as the content taught during the American School.
American School of Gas Measurement Technology (ASGMT) Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms:
- American School of Gas Measurement Technology is the largest gas measurement school in the United States that is devoted to natural gas measurement, pressure regulation, flow control, and other measurement related arenas.
- Matt Ligon is the current President of ASGMT. Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.
- Gulf Coast Measurement Society
- The Gulf Coast Gas Measurement Society(GCGMS) was formed in Houston, Texas and has been supporting gas measurement and professionals in the Gulf Coast region since 1963. The purpose of the Society is the advancement of gas measurement for the mutual benefit of the members, industry, and the Society.
- CEU Program, Continuing Education Units, are awarded by many education and training providers to signify successful completion of non-credit programs and courses intended to improve the knowledge and skills of working adults.
- PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) is responsible for providing pipeline safety oversight through regulatory rule-making, NTSB recommendations, and other important functions to protect people and the environment through the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials.
- LMF – Liquid Measurement Fundamentals
- GMF – Gas Measurement Fundamentals
American School of Gas Measurement Technology (ASGMT) Full Episode Transcript:
Russel Treat: Welcome to “The Pipeliners Podcast” episode 293, sponsored by Enersys Corporation, providers of POEMS, the Pipeline Operations Excellence Management System, compliance and operations software for the pipeline control center to address control room management, SCADA, and audit readiness.
Find out more about POEMS at EnersysCorp.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, Bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations.
Now, your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to The Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time. To show that appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode. This week our winner is Josh Ferguson with Boardwalk Pipelines.
Congratulations, Josh. Your YETI is on its way. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around until the end of the episode.
This week we’re going to speak to Matt Ligon, president of the American School of Gas Measurement Technology. We’re going to talk about the school, its offerings, and I’ll tell the listeners that I’ve been involved with the American School of Gas Measurement for nearly 20 years.
It’s a passion of mine. It’s where I started in the business. It’s where I learned oil and gas, starting with custody transfer measurement. I hope you enjoy this episode. It certainly means a lot to me.
Matt, welcome to The Pipeliners Podcast.
Matt Ligon: Thank you, Russel. I appreciate it. It’s an honor.
Russel: It’s an honor for me, too. I think this is going to be fun. We get to talk about something we’re both quite passionate about. That’s the American School of Gas Measurement Technology.
Maybe the best way to start is to do some introductions, if you don’t mind. Tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and how you got involved with ASGMT.
Matt: Yeah, Russel. I’ve been in the ASGMT 26 years. That’s a long time, for sure. I first started out in the industry with Daniel Measurement Control. I was an outside salesman and got involved with the Gulf Coast Measurement Society, which actually started the school. We’ll talk about that in a little bit.
An outside salesman and I had gone to the exhibits. The individual that got me involved in that told me that you’ll meet a lot of good friends and have personal relationships with your clients. He was right after 26 years.
Russel: Yeah, no kidding. I’m going to do the same thing. I don’t know if a lot of listeners know this about my background, but I spent some time in the military. I got out of the military. I worked in cryogenics. Then, very soon after that, I started doing a lot of things in software in a lot of different areas.
I found myself in ’92 working for a company called BMP Energy Systems out of Calgary in Canada and started going to all the measurement schools. I fell in love with the measurement business. I’m like, “OK. These are my people.” It was just one of those things.
That’s how I started to get involved. I got involved with the Gulf Coast Gas Measurement Society. I was president of that. Through that, I got on to the American School committee. That was probably 2005 timeframe, so I guess I’ve been involved with the American School for, what is that, 18 years now.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
Matt: It does. It really does.
Russel: Measurement is my first love. Measurement is an interesting thing, I think, because it’s very technical. There’s a lot to know. You learn some fundamentals in engineering school, but you don’t learn measurement in engineering school. You learn measurement from measurement people.
That’s where American School comes from.
Matt: I agree with you. One thing about the school is not only do we have the exhibits and we have classes and things like that, but they do a lot of hands-on work at the school. Learning it from a hands-on perspective of being in the field, and also the training session. You learn a lot more that way.
Russel: Yeah, when I first got into the measurement business, the nature of my job is I was traveling. I was in a business development role. I was going to all the measurement schools. Every measurement school I went to, I went and I listened to fundamentals from different instructors. I would go to the hands-on classes.
Over the course of about five years, I probably spent…Oh my gosh, I have no idea, but probably six weeks in measurement classes through the schools. That’s how I learned measurement.
That’s one of the things that’s really unique about, not just the American School, but the others, is not only do they teach the fundamentals, but they also teach it as advanced as you want to learn it.
The other cool thing about what we do is not only do you have the ability to go to these classes and learn, but most of these instructors, they’re hanging around in their company exhibit booths. You can go take those guys. They love to talk about measurement.
Matt: Yeah, and most of the instructors that we have have been on the standards committees that have written the measurement standards that we have today. You can meet the individual that’s written that.
Russel: Yeah, and ask them, “OK, I know what this says, but why does it say that? What do I need to know about that?”
It’s interesting, when I was first navigating the business and I was asking questions, particularly about chart integration and different things. You had problems with a chart. I guess I’m dating myself. I’m talking about chart integration.
When I was asking that, they would be, “Oh, you need to go talk to this guy.” If they didn’t know, they knew who did know. That’s the deal. I guess that answers the question about what is the American School. It’s really a place where people come to learn everything there is to know about measurement.
Matt: You’re correct.
Russel: How did the American School come to be?
Matt: The Gulf Coast Gas Measurement Society that was in Houston and started in 1963, I believe…
Russel: I think that’s right.
Matt: It evolved in that and the school grew, and so we formed into the American School of Gas Measurement Technology, which it is today.
The Gulf Coast Gas Measurement Society and many of its affiliates throughout the United States are still associated with the American School. They are present in the school itself.
It’s, like you said, you were the president of the Gulf Coast Gas Measurement Society. I was, as well. We’ve been a part of that for a long time.
It’s been a great institution. That’s where it got its start. It grew from there.
Russel: There’s one gentleman I know you used to work with, Lloyd was fun. He was really instrumental in starting it. I think one of the reasons he started the Gulf Coast Gas Measurement Society was as a way to get people in front of knowledgeable people and learn, once a month, about various aspects of measurement.
Out of that group, they said, “You know what? We need to start a school.” Now, the school’s much bigger than the Society.
Matt: That’s correct. I had the privilege of knowing Lloyd personally and Daniel. He and an office about three offices down from me. I would go down there and ask him any question about measurement and also just be privileged to be part of that.
Like I said, when I didn’t understand something, as far as the standards or anything that Lloyd had done, he’d sit down with you and spend that quality time with you.
We’ve kind of done that in the new programs that we have available at the school, as well.
Russel: Before we talk about the content, the things we teach, I’d like to talk a little bit about how the school is organized and how it operates. You’re president of the board.
Russel: You are this year’s president of the board and I am this year’s general chairman. I think what a lot of people don’t realize about the measurement school is it’s all volunteers.
There’s about 65 people between the board and the committee that work throughout the course of the year to put together the school and offer over 150 lecture classes, over 50 hands-on classes. Then, we’ve got what you’re getting ready to talk about, the two specialized tracks that we do.
Matt: What’s really neat about it is that…We talked about it earlier. You build a personal relationship. It’s not only exhibitors and manufacturers in the industry. We are all mixed with the end users, as well. We get really personal and close. It really helps.
Russel: I think one of the things that’s unique about measurement in particular is because we’re doing custody transfer between parties and we’re all trying to follow the same standards. In the normal course of business we interact with one another across company lines in a way that you might not in other disciplines.
You go out. One day, I’m witnessing your meter site. The next day, you’re witnessing mine. That’s just part of it.
Matt: That’s what I always enjoyed about the industry. In sales, for being on my side of it, and manufacturing, it’s solutions to the problems that our end users have. You meet with them and be able to take the technologies to them and present to them. Then, be able to help them out with the things that they deal with on a daily basis in the field.
From taking it out of the ground, to going into process, all the way to pipeline distribution, and then in residential.
Russel: I would also say that one of the other things about the school, in particular, and the way it’s organized, because it’s all volunteers, it’s a bit of a leadership laboratory. You can do as much or as little as you want. You can do it for as long or as short a period of time that you want.
There’s people that have been involved with this school…We were talking about this at the board meeting just yesterday, about a couple of the guys that have been involved with the school for over 50 years. It’s just amazing.
Matt: It is. It really is.
Russel: They’ve forgotten more about measurement than I’ll probably ever know.
Matt: That’s true.
Russel: You can come on and just work on one of the committees, like registration, or the marketing committee, or the programs committee and do a small job over the course of the year. You can be vice chairman or a chairman role on one of the subcommittees, all the way to eventually being on the board, if that’s something you feel like you want to do and you put in the time, and so forth.
It’s all volunteers. I’ve learned a lot about leadership, and management, and all of that because it’s different running a bunch of volunteers than running a bunch of employees. I’ll put it that way.
Matt: That’s true.
Russel: What do we teach?
Matt: We teach…The American School of Natural Gas Measurement Technology, right? We’ve introduced liquid over the last couple of years to it, as well. We’ve got liquid classes that are involved with our gas classes now.
One of the main things that we’ve done over the last several years is LMF and GMF. What that is is a specialized class over a two day period where students can sign up. We start off with the fundamentals. We move through many, many aspects of natural gas and measurement, and also with liquid. They get accredited for that.
We have a CEU program that they can get accredited for, but also it just gives you fundamentals all the way through. Shows you all the different equipment that are used and new technologies that go with natural gas and with liquid.
At the end of that class, you take a test. It gives you an understanding of what you’ve learned over the two days that we have.
Russel: This is a relatively new thing for the school. The GMF…I guess we’ve been doing the GMF now for, maybe, five or six years. Not a real long time. The LMF for a couple. I should clarify that the LMF is natural gas liquids. We’re not doing crude oil and refined products and such. That’s a different beast.
It’s really running somebody through everything you need to know about the fundamentals of measurement. It’s kind of…I call it skipping a stone across a really deep lake, but at least you get across the lake.
Matt: That’s a good analogy. That’s correct.
Russel: I think with what we do, it’s very important to understand how the meter interacts with the EFM, interact with the sampler, and interact with my final numbers. Understanding how that all goes together. That’s what you’re accomplishing in these fundamental classes.
We’re also offering those online, so you don’t actually have to travel to Houston to attend those classes. That was a relatively big lift when we started doing that a few years ago.
Matt: We were forced to do that with a little thing called COVID that came through, but we have adjusted to that. We can hold so many in a classroom. After the classroom is full there, then they can sign up virtually online, as well.
Russel: I should say, too, that in terms of the lectures, there’s a lot of lecture classes on fundamentals. There’s lecture classes on standards and standard changes that are occurring.
We also cover a lot of things that are ancillary, like DC electrical, and SCADA communications, and EFM data collection, and things that are important parts of measurement but not necessarily measurement curriculum, per se.
Matt: That’s correct.
Russel: We really do try to run the gamut so that people that are coming year after year, there’s always something new that’s out there that they’re trying to learn about.
Matt: That’s a great point because we do have a new products class that introduces new technology to the industry, as well. Then, we have a panel class where it’s based like a panel class. You can come in and ask questions.
We try to offer everything, the new technology along with the day to day that they usually use in measurement.
Russel: You talked about the hands on, which is a big part of what we do. We make a lot of effort. The vendors, in particular, have a lot of special rules around that. One of those is limited seating. For those who want to do the hands on, if they sign up for the school and come, they’ve got to show up early in the morning and get tickets for that day’s hands on.
Those things tend to fill up really, really fast.
Matt: Yeah. We really want to do that and limit it because we really want you to put your hands on the equipment. We don’t want it to be something that you don’t get anything out of. It really does well.
Russel: Absolutely. I also want to talk about how the school’s organized. Our school starts September 11th this year. That’s a Monday. It starts with the exhibit hall opening and our welcome.
Matt: Yeah, the early bird.
Russel: The early bird, the welcome.
Generally, that’s attended by people on the committee and the vendors. It’s the close network. It’s not limited to that, but that tends to be who attends.
Then, the school officially opens on Tuesday morning. We have a welcome session. We bring in a keynote speaker. This year’s keynote is Tristan Brown. Tristan is Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration. For those folks that listen to The Pipeliners Podcast, they all know who that is and what that is.
He’s going to be talking about the importance of a regulator and also will be talking about the new gas leak detection and repair rule that’s coming down. That’s going to be a big deal for a lot of operators. It’s got a lot of implications. It’s something that we, as measurement people, are going to need to be looking for.
I think it’s going to impact a lot of things about how we do our business.
Matt: I think that’s great. I always encourage the students and the people that come to the school to make sure that they attend the general assembly because our keynote speakers really bring a lot. This one this year will too.
Russel: After that, it’s dive into classes, all you can stand.
Then, of course, the exhibit hall. We’ll have probably close to 175 exhibitors of all kinds of measurement equipment, metering equipment, sampling equipment, analytical equipment. The entire gamut of stuff, if you will.
Matt: We have, also, the other side of the building, which has exhibitors in it, as well. Make sure you go through the whole exhibit.
Russel: Yeah, exactly.
What would you want to wrap this up and tell people about the school? What would you want people to take away from this conversation?
Matt: If in engineering, or natural gas, or liquid measurement, I really encourage you to attend the school. Like Russel and I have emphasized, it’s just a great three or four day event that you can come to and see all the latest technology that’s in your industry.
Again, to network with the people, not only end users, but the manufacturers there, as well, and get the training that you need.
Russel: I would absolutely concur with that. I think that there’s also people and things like leak detection. Anybody who’s working in operations, or hydrology, or any of those kinds of specialized disciplines around pipelines and facilities, there’s a lot of really excellent content.
There’s a big difference between process measurement and custody transfer. We tend to focus on custody transfer and standards so that, ultimately, we all land on the same number.
Even for all those other disciplines, I think it’s very helpful for them to understand if you’re relying on measurement to do your job, and that includes people like production accountants and revenue accountants and so forth, really handy to understand what it actually takes to do good measurement.
Matt: That’s right. Even if you data collect, analyze, or anything, right? To come down and look at the equipment that you’re actually getting that information from.
Russel: I couldn’t agree more. The way I’d leave it is if you’re interested in measurement, you could come to the American Measurement School.
Matt: I agree. I appreciate the opportunity to sit here with you and talk about the American School of Gas Measurement Technology. It’s been such an impact on my life and for many years. I know, as well, in yours.
Russel: Yeah, I’ve made lifelong friends in this industry. It’s a big deal to give back to something you care about.
Matt: Yeah. When you enjoy what you’re doing…Like Russel said, everybody in there’s like family.
Russel: Yeah, no doubt.
Thanks, Matt. I appreciate your time.
Matt: Back to you. I appreciate the invite.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of The Pipeliners Podcast and our conversation with Matt. Just a reminder, before you go you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Simply visit PipelinePodcastNetwork.com/Win and enter yourself in the drawing.
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If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let me know either on the Contact Us page at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com, or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thank you for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords