Honorable Mention: Texas Instructor Emphasizes Hands-on Training
That’s just one reason why McClure is an honorable mention winner in The News’ “Best Hvacr Instructor” contest.
“Our class size is going up a bit,” he said. “People are learning that we are out here. Our area never had this program until two years ago.”
McClure splits time between the school and his business, McClure Refrigeration, in nearby Iowa Park. That’s a full load for an instructor who is a firm believer in hands-on training. He teaches three courses per semester: refrigeration principles, electricity principles, and a/c control principles. Average class size is 12 students.
When McClure started the program, he had some definite visions — and definite obstacles.
“I walked into the program with no lab tools or equipment other than some refrigeration trainers retired by the Air Force,” he said. “I went to work and put together tool lists, equipment lists, classroom materials, and purchased what my budget would allow for the first year.”
THE HANDS-ON WAYSince McClure is in the field every day doing work for his residential-light commercial service company, he makes sure that his students have plenty of equipment to work on.
“I am always bringing in equipment from the field and testing it,” he said. “I believe in more hands-on training and less theory. My teaching philosophy is to keep it real world as much as I can.
“I don’t want to bog my students down with theory. I want them to get out in the field. Last year we installed two 10-ton rooftop units at the college. Students have also installed ice machines, split systems and ductwork, built a chilled water system, etc.”
McClure said that his experience in the field gives him the practical knowledge needed to teach hvacr courses. “I know what people need to learn to become technicians and installers,” he said.
“I decided the summer that I hired into this field that I would learn how to install equipment — that is why my students get to do it. For example, if I have a class that needs practice brazing and running copper, we will unhook equipment and reinstall it.”
LOOKING FOR YOUNG STUDENTSMcClure acknowledged that there isn’t much motivation salary-wise for young people in his area to enter hvacr training.
“The problem is that the starting pay around here is about $7.50 an hour,” he said.
“Most of my guys are older, changing careers. There are only a handful of guys fresh out of high school. The ratio should be just the opposite.
“Many people don’t even know they can make a career out of hvacr,” he said. “And guidance counselors don’t even have a clue about our business.”
Maybe this award-winning hvacr instructor can help to educate them.
Publication date: 09/10/2001