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TOMCAT U in Gatlinburg

TOMCAT U in Gatlinburg
The 2017 TOMCAT U Hoist & Rigging Workshop was held from March 13th – 17th at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  A total of 59 students from across the United States, as well as Mexico, Barbados and the Bahamas, were in attendance. The areas covered were Truss, Rigging, Automation, Rope Access and Hoists. 
Instructors for this year’s TOMCAT U were leading industry professionals with decades of experience.  Will Todd (TOMCAT) provided valuable insight for the truss part of the workshop. Bill Sapsis (Sapsis Rigging) shared his deep knowledge of rigging and how to safely rig in a wide range of situations.  Dave Carmack (Columbus McKinnon) thoroughly covered the ins and outs of hoists. Ben Gasper and Jim Shumway (Tait Towers) led the informative and entertaining training on automation.  Nick Fleming and Brian Leister (Rope Access Orlando) didn’t leave anyone hanging when they dove into the thick of rope access.
In the sphere of automation, Ben and Jim focused on Automated Performer Flying. This was the first year when a specific area of automation was singled out, allowing the specialists from Tait Towers to go more in depth and make it very entertaining for students.  The thrilling live demonstration on the truss grid was definitely one of the highlights of the week.
For the second year in a row, we included an introduction to rope access by the experts from Rope Access Orlando that lasted half a day. Nick and Brian gave students the opportunity to try something new that either added to their current experience or reinforced what they already knew.  A third part is planned for next year’s rope access workshop, where a full Rope Access Certification Course would be offered.
Dave drew on his experience at Columbus McKinnon to provide two full days of information on hoists and students were given extensive hands-on training. At the end of the class, attendees were given the opportunity to take the CM RTC Exam. 
A favorite part of TOMCAT U every year is Factory Night, where students are taken on an extended tour of the TOMCAT factory and had the opportunity to try their hand at welding. Almost every student tested their welding skills, with some wanting to try more than once.
A big thank you goes to Danny Davis and Pro Video Audio Productions, who provided the onsite truss grid for TOMCAT U.  A full onsite grid afforded us the opportunity to give more demonstrations and provide extensive hands-on training. It was used for the Automation, Fall Arrest and Rope Access parts of the workshop. At the end of the week, students were given a last hands-on training exercise when they had the opportunity to strike the grid.
We would like to give a heart felt thanks to our sponsors Siskin Steel, Ashley Sling, Fabrite, Colortec, Airgas and Summit Machine Works.  A special thanks also goes out to our industry partners Pro Video Audio Productions, Tait Towers, Sapsis Rigging, Columbus McKinnon and Rope Access Orlando. 
A final thank you goes out to all of the great people who attended this year’s TOMCAT U and made it such a special workshop for all involved. 
We look forward to continuing the TOMCAT U tradition next year and will communicate these dates soon.
The First
Rigging & Trussing
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