Honorable Mention: This Instructor Keeps His Students on Track

For close to 30 years, John Parks has been a service technician and contractor, and he still works in the field.
FRESNO, CA — Steering a good hvacr student to an eager potential employer has never been a scientific art. But there are those who are trying to make it so.

One of those is John Parks of Fresno (CA) City College, an honorable mention honoree in The News’ “Best Hvacr Instructor” contest. He has added the development of a computer-based attendance/skill tracking system to his many responsibilities.

“When fully deployed, it should be a powerful tool,” he said. “It will provide detailed information to prospective employers, as well as allowing students to easily monitor their progress.”

Such technology would need a student’s permission to have his or her name added to the database. But more than likely the kind of students a contractor is looking for would welcome this way of getting their names out. (Even the attendance tracking takes on importance for measuring a future employee’s reliability.)

But, Parks himself knows what contractors want. For close to 30 years he has been a service technician and contractor, and he still works in the field.

Fresno City College offers a two-year Associate of Science degree program in air conditioning, a two-year certificate program in air conditioning, and an eight-month (two-semester) instruction program, as well as continuing education and evening classes.

Some students also fulfill coursework requirements for a union apprenticeship program.

There is also coursework for NATE certification exams. The college is a NATE testing organization. Parks has NATE certification in a/c, heat pumps, and gas furnaces. He is also a certificate member of RSES.

Parks teaches three courses per semester with an average class size of 25 to 28 students. There is an emphasis on work-experience programs “to provide students with an opportunity to work in the industry, concurrent with their second semester,” he said.

Parks noted the college is in discussion with the Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA) to offer 320 training hours for selected employees of its member contractors.

Parks is also a skilled procurer of capital goods. Given a fiscal year supply and equipment repair budget of about $6,000, he knows he has to go out and find other funding sources. During the past five years, he has secured funding for capital improvements, tools, and equipment in excess of $175,000.

Publication date: 09/10/2001

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