WOW! What a week this has been. The country has gone to the polls and elected a new president, the stock market is up, and TestOut just celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Back in 1991, Noel Vallejo was working for a major IT company. One afternoon he was called down to HR and informed that he was one of a large number of employees who were soon to be ex-employees. He went home with no idea what to do. His twin daughters were too young to know what was going on, but his wife cried with worry about how they were going to make it.
The next morning Vallejo got out of bed, got dressed and put on a tie. His wife asked where he was going. He responded with boldness, “I’m going to work.” Vallejo then sat down at a table and began trying to figure out what he could do to earn a living. “I had no idea what to do,” he said. “I just knew I had to do something.”
Well that something has been around now for 25 years.
The one thing Vallejo did know about was IT certifications. In a do-or-die move reminiscent of Cortés sinking his ships, he took his savings and went for it, starting United Education Centers (UEC), a marketing consulting company focused on helping computer training companies market and sell their IT certification training programs. And it worked! Pretty soon he was sponsoring national and international industry conferences.
Throughout the early ’90s, the market for certification training rapidly expanded. In a farsighted move, Vallejo realized that many networking professionals were unable to attend physical training centers. In order to reach these professionals with quality training at a reasonable price, UEC developed and released the industry’s first video training series dedicated to helping professionals prepare for Novell’s Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) exams.
The series was titled, “So You Wanna Be a CNE?!.” Released in early 1994, it became an instant hit. Filled with comprehensive training manuals and test prep software, the video series put UEC in the forefront of the IT distance training industry.
Surrounding himself with a highly skilled and dedicated team of instructional designers, software engineers, writers and graphic artists, Vallejo kept on leading the industry in new and exciting directions. In 1996, UEC began offering computer-based training (CBT) via a video training series. It soon became apparent that, to truly understand the material, IT students would greatly benefit from “hands on” training. So, UEC started integrating simulation technology and hands-on labs into its courseware.
In 1998, to better align itself with its most successful product line, the company changed its name to TestOut Corporation. It also began breaking away from its Novell training focus with the release of its first training for Microsoft certification programs — the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE).
In 1999 and 2000, the company further expanded its product line to better serve the networking professional by adding training for CompTIA’s A+ and Network+, and Cisco’s Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) certifications. Also in 1999, TestOut began releasing its simulations as a separate hands-on training product named “LabSim.” Today, LabSim has become a robust and thorough simulation product that gives the users a very realistic experience using today’s technologies.
TestOut’s mission is, “To make a difference in a person’s life, through education, using breakthrough technology.” The company has certainly done that. Over the past 25 years, more than 1.1 million students around the world have utilized TestOut courseware to help them earn IT certifications.
It’s been a very successful 25 years. Happy birthday to TestOut and a hat-tip to the man brave enough to get out of bed and risk it all in 1991!
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Like TestOut, Calvin turned 25. Unlike TestOut, this did not occur in 2016.