Christine Gregoire, former governor of Washington State, once said “Education is the foundation upon which we build our future.” This message certainly holds true in many disciplines, including the use of new technologies. Modern analytical instrumentation is rarely intuitive. You can’t step in front of a new Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES), or Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) analyzer and manipulate it with the ease of a smart phone. It takes training, years of experience and a strong educational background to fully grasp the nuances of these sophisticated techniques and to produce reliable data from them. This reality shifted somewhat with the introduction of handheld EDXRF analyzers starting in the 1990’s. Handheld (HH) XRF revolutionized the analytical instrumentation world first by taking the instrument from the lab to the field. By miniaturizing the XRF components, and designing the system for battery power, operators are no longer restricted to sending samples to a remote laboratory. Second, the elemental data provided by HH XRF instruments is immediate, taking only a few seconds to a few minutes. Previously the waiting time to receive analytical information could range from hours to days, to even weeks if the operation was very distant from the lab service provider. Last, HH XRF provides a new level of “sample density” unobtainable before. This means that like a digital camera, there is virtually no limit to the number of analytical “snapshots” (i.e. sample analyses) that can be performed. Where once there was a cutoff point to the number of samples a user could physically and financially afford to send to a lab, now there is almost limitless access to sample data. Is education now rendered ineffectual? Is education now rendered ineffectual with the development of point-and-shoot analytical tools? Absolutely not. HH XRF — especially in complex, ever-changing mining matrices and applications — still requires the appropriate education and training of its users. There are limitations to this technology and it is possible for the uninitiated to expose themselves and/or their companies to risk. Whether it’s for correct use of the instrument, proper application of safety features, or accurate interpretation of data, the operator must be educated in the technology. Some instrument manufacturers are taking this instructive process seriously, providing HH XRF short courses for various top geology and geochemistry programs around the world in an attempt to establish an early basis of operational knowledge. Usually these classes are attended by third or fourth-year undergraduates, and graduate (Master and PhD) students. They include subject matter covering theory of operation, radiation safety, and real-world mining and exploration applications for HH XRF. Both the prestigious Colorado School of Mines and Harvard University recently offered this type of class. Canadian colleges already scheduled to offer these XRF education classes from the experts include Lakehead University, University of Manitoba, and Simon Fraser University. I can’t stress enough that education is the key to successful operation of modern HH XRF analytical instrumentation. Although the devices are becoming easier to use, there is a substantial amount of knowledge required to extract reliable and meaningful data, just like any other sophisticated analytical instrument. To find out if these classes are offered at your university or to request a guest lecturer class on handheld XRF technology be held at your school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.