Investing In The Future of HVAC – Part 1
As we all know too well, finding qualified HVAC technicians is getting tougher and tougher all the time. Finding the solution in your own backyard is next to impossible, as many HVAC companies have experienced firsthand. Typically, that would have been the end of the conversation, except that it wasn’t in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area. RightTek HVAC Training, in partnership with the local Johnstone Supply store, decided the status quo of not meeting the needs of this growing industry with qualified technicians was not acceptable. The puzzle needed to be solved and after canvasing the local HVAC industry for their specific needs, a plan was developed to meet this critical need.
The game plan had to be straightforward and simple for it to work. RightTek HVAC Training decided to take the Community College educational model and combine it with a rigorous hands-on “Boot Camp-style” training program to produce a knowledgeable technician, ready to work. The class location is at the local Johnstone Supply store. To make it as real-life as possible, a working classroom was created that included actual heating and cooling units in order to reinforce every application taught. Lectures are presented with an emphasis placed on taking what is learned behind the desk and within minutes, students are performing the task on the live units. Continuous repetition and reinforcement of skill sets taught is the norm throughout the course from day one.
To make the class reasonable in cost and practical for those committing the time and resources, the class is designed around a 6-week format. To promote quality learning and individual student focus, the number of students is limited to no more than 12 students per class. With 2 to 3 senior instructors present in every classroom, students are continually engaged and challenged, with no questions left unanswered. To help reinforce industry practices and company culture, our students spend 3 days a week working and learning in the classroom, followed by 2 days a week in the field with a sponsoring HVAC company. The time spent in the field proves to be invaluable with sound workmanship and soft skills being reinforced in a real-world environment.
Constructing the live classroom started with a vision of creating the ultimate training environment, which is divided 50/50 for sit-down lectures and hands-on training. The working lab is furnished with all the equipment and tools one would expect to find on a well-stocked service truck. To provide a sense of ownership, each student is presented with a new tool bag containing all the basic hand tools to springboard their new careers during and after the training is completed.
Week One kicked off with a sold-out class, having a mix of both local and out-of-state students. To quickly acclimate the new students to the world of heating and A/C, the first week was based on a total immersion effort of knowing and understanding the refrigeration cycle, both from a lecture (classroom) and hands-on (lab) approach. Displaying the refrigeration cycle on a PowerPoint slideshow and then tracing-out all the actual components, hand-over-hand on the units within the classroom was the norm. Each time a review occurred; additional information was added to deepen their knowledge and included the physics of the subcooling and superheat process, all the inner workings of how each component functions and operates, as well as other system characteristics that all aspiring technicians should fully understand. Other first week material included classroom and safety protocols to maintain a safe work environment, familiarization of electrical theory, meter use and system components, EPA 608 Certification test preparation and proper refrigerant handling practices to include manifold gage/hose usage.
NEXT MONTH’S ISSUE
In the next article, we will meet some of the students and invite you into their world to learn about why they chose a career in heating and air conditioning. We will showcase the class progression throughout the six-week course schedule. We look forward to sharing with you the stories of how this innovative program is changing lives and helping contractors to fulfill an ever-increasing need.
(This article is Part One of a Six-Part Series)
RightTek HVAC Training LLC was founded by Anthony Maynor and Bill Timberlake to promote “Real-World” HVAC Training to those who really want to excel in the trade. Anthony spent over 25 years in the field as a successful Trane Dealer and teaching various HVAC licensing preparatory classes throughout North Carolina. Bill spent many years as a senior instructor teaching HVAC courses at a large community college after a 24-year military career as a mechanical engineer. The widespread knowledge base that RightTek brings to the classroom is second to none with a spread of hands-on and classroom experience seldom seen in this industry. Visit righttekhvac.com for further information or to contact them.
BECOME AN ACCA MEMBER