Go-Getter From Pittsburgh Challenges His Students

On this Hoshizaki refrigeration unit, Flaherty's students installed an electronics board.

PITTSBURGH, PA — Steven J. Flaherty never seems to slow down. He has done a great deal for his school and his students throughout his 21-year teaching career at Triangle Tech, Pittsburgh, PA. Because of his dedication, he has achieved runner-up status in The News’ second annual “Best Hvacr Instructor” contest.

Flaherty teaches five courses per term at Triangle Tech. The school’s program covers a wide range of subjects, including a 16-month Associate’s in hvacr; welding; drafting — mechanical, architectural, and CADD; carpentry; machine shop technology; maintenance electricity; business school; an evening school diploma program in hvacr; and corporate customized training.

His challenge to his students is, “Every day you have to learn something new.” And Flaherty is similarly doing and learning new things on a regular basis.

His recent accomplishments include starting a student chapter of RSES, of which he is advisor. Flaherty has been a member of RSES since 1979, and Marilyn Roth, CM, Region 2 director of the association, is on the school’s advisory committee.

He recently did three “Service Tips” presentations at the trade show of the Empire Keystone Association (EKA), which covers New York and Pennsylvania. He talked about “Three-Phase Voltage Imbalance,” “Checking for Non-Condensables in a Refrigeration System,” and “Systems With Water-Cooled Condensers.”

A graduate of Triangle Tech, Flaherty began his career at HAY Service and Installation Co., where he worked for over two years. The company handled commercial refrigeration and boilers for supermarkets and restaurants. An instructor at the school called and convinced him to try teaching, and he’s been there ever since.

Flaherty is now a master-level instructor with 62 modules completed through the University of Georgia’s Competency Based Education Training (CBET) program. Recently, Flaherty passed the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) Commercial Refrigeration exam.

He has obtained a number of equipment donations over the years from such companies as Scotsman, Hoshizaki, and Crystal Tip. Most recently he obtained new donations from Sears (refrigerator/freezers and freezers, 11 units total) and from Armstrong (air conditioning units, heat pumps, and furnaces, 17 to 20 units total, including a rooftop unit). The students were scheduled to install the rooftop unit themselves, and they have installed other equipment at the school as well.

Flaherty tries once a month to get a speaker at the school. A representative from Scotsman visits each year. Speakers have included Joe Marchese of Arctic-Air Refrigeration and Gary Comwell of United Refrigeration.

His evening-class students go to Pittsburgh chapter meetings of RSES; a number of them have become members.

Major manufacturers recruit students from the school, including Carrier Transicold, Copeland, and Piedmont. Students can buy tools and parts with a student discount at such wholesale-distributors as Johnstone Supply, United Refrigeration, and R.E. Michel Co.

Flaherty has taught several of the instructors at the school. He said that instructors there are long term; once they start, they normally stay with the school.

He has automotive air certification. He is a member of the Pittsburgh Public Schools advisory committee. He attended a Carrier Transicold seminar, where he received a patch certifying him in factory-trained service. He received a certificate in faculty development from the Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators.

Through the help of Automatrix, students have put together four ddc boards, which Flaherty estimates are worth $10,000 each.

He has taken his students on field trips to such locations as Ross Park Mall, Mellon Arena, Super K-Mart, Pittsburgh Zoo, Giant Eagle Supermarket, Shop and Save Supermarket, P.J. Foods, Carrier Transicold, Thermo King, Duquesne Light Nuclear Power Plant, Port Authority Transit System, and others.

His students have assembled multiple trainers for the hvacr program, including electrical and pneumatic. He was able to get videos donated on specialized training, along with CD-ROMs. Flaherty has also taken his students out on field service work, such as troubleshooting and repairing ice machines for St. Sebastian’s School and Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind.

As Ed Petrunak, one his students, noted, “Mr. Flaherty is thorough with both the technical information and how to deal with people. He answers everybody’s questions and has a great attitude. He really knows his stuff.”

Publication date: 09

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