Teaching quite a few Intro to Tech courses over the years, it seems appropriate to write about it a little. What’s interesting about this course is the way different instructors perceive the course.
One of my students posted a question about it on one of the Internet forums and got a variety of responses from instructors and students. One instructor approaches the Intro to Tech course as a very basic course. He states he introduces his students to the different technical gear available, gives them an opportunity to try the gear, and completes the basic in water skills required by standards. While this fully meets the agency standards for the course, it’s not what I really see the course as being. However, I do see the potential for there being an increase in the number of divers that sign up for a course like this because it meets the requirements for taking the HOG regulator service technician course (more on this later).
I take a different approach to the Intro to Tech course. I see it as more of a technical fundamentals course than and introductory course. While I do spend time with my students looking over the different gear options available, that’s a very small portion of the course. Most of our classroom time is spent talking about proper gas management, dissimilar cylinder volume matching, Respiratory Minute Volume (RMV) calculation, dive planning, and emergency procedures. Once we get in the water, in addition to the standard skills required like propulsion techniques, out of air drills, mask removal, and surface marker deployment, we also get the information required to calculate RMV, work on establishing muscle memory, task load in midwater, and more. I incorporate the skills I’d like to see my students come into an Advanced Nitrox/Decompression Procedures (AN/DP) course or Cavern course with so we can focus on more advanced skills during the two to three days spent in those courses. I also shoot a lot of video during the course so my students not only get the benefit of feedback on how they are doing on the skills, they also get to see what they are doing. It’s one thing to be told you keep fanning your free hand, but a different thing to see yourself constantly doing it on video. Video really makes it hit home.
So the point of this is to not blow off a course because of what you may have heard about it or may think of it. Many of the agencies, especially the technical diving agencies, allow their instructors to add more content to their courses. Ask around and interview different instructors. Ask for specific information about the skills that are done during the course. What may not seem like a good course from one instructor may be a great course from another instructor.
Oh, and as for the HOG regulator service technician course. There is a prerequisite for some type of technical diving certification to get into this course and the Intro to Tech course does meet that requirement. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information.