STLE Learning Pathways

Paul Hetherington | TLT President's Report December 2020

Check out this great resource for key knowledge in the field.

The STLE Learning Pathways gives you easy access to key information to help build your lubrication and tribology knowledge. It is filtered by relevant key subject areas (Priority Groups), and then further divided into Basic, Intermediate and Advanced competency levels.

Of all the committees, projects, activities and initiatives that I have been involved with during my 30 years of service to STLE, I think the one I am most proud of was the project that led to the development of the STLE Learning Pathways.

Let’s be clear, though, right up front—I was most definitely not responsible for the development and success of the Learning Pathways. That distinction actually goes to a large number of volunteers who worked countless hours to help with various aspects of the project. The list unfortunately is just too long to include here, but on the initial project I do want to recognize the support of the Education Committee and key folks like STLE Past President Greg Croce and former Education Committee Chair Tom Schiff. And most of all, and really the key reason that it ever got completed, was the incredible Herculean effort by former STLE staff member Alicia Skulemowski.

So, what is this thing called the Learning Pathways? Well, it all started with a need from our members to have easier access to key information that would help them build their lubrication and tribology knowledge in order to properly work toward and prepare for challenging one of the STLE certification exams.

From the very beginning, though, the project team was quite clear that the goal was not to identify materials that would allow someone to directly prep for one of the exams. Rather, the idea was to help members and non-members become technically competent in the appropriate key subject areas. In one sense there is only a subtle difference between the two, but it really did keep us focused on the bigger picture of what was required.

Of the four STLE certifications (CLS, OMA I, OMA II, CMFS) we decided to first focus on materials that were more aligned with a lubrication specialist and an oil analyst in the field. The next step was to identify the 50 or so key subject areas that people need to learn about (bearings, additives, gears, hydraulics, base oil, viscosity, etc.).

Following that, we dug up and identified various technical materials that might be relevant. This included items such as all TLT articles from at least the last decade, published books and their key chapters, Webinars and existing online STLE courses. Now it was time to call for the massive volunteer help. Each and every one of these various references was reviewed by at least two volunteers where they were asked to identify the following:

Was the reference material appropriate for either a lubrication specialist or an oil analyst?
Which of the key subject areas was the reference best applicable to?
What level was the material (basic, intermediate or advanced)?

We then broke up the 50 key subject areas and the identified appropriate references into one of five priorities. Very simply, it was clear that any future lubrication specialist first needs to become generally technically competent in base oils and viscosity before learning about wire rope lubrication as an example. Of course, though, the path you choose is strictly up to you.

All of this information is available at through the Professional Development tab for free (and lots of it is) or for purchase (Webinars, technical books, etc.). By the way, another benefit of being a member is that you have access to some of the chapters in the published book references.

So, the next time you are looking for additional information on a specific subject or looking to put yourself on a pathway of learning to challenge one of our certifications, take a look at the information available on the STLE Learning Pathways.

If you would like to volunteer to help make the Learning Pathways better, just call STLE headquarters or send an email to and make sure this doesn’t stay empty.

Paul Hetherington is manager technical services for Petro-Canada Lubricants in Peachland, British Columbia, Canada. You can reach him at