Instructor Larry Ball supervises a student brazing copper at Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center.
LAS VEGAS - Larry Ball of Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center (SNVTC), an honorable mention honoree in the Best Instructor competition sponsored by The NEWS
and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, knows his way around the industry. Prior to being hired by SNVTC 15 years ago, he worked as a repair technician for 12 years and was a supervisor for eight of those years.
Now Ball spends his days imparting his considerable wisdom to students who usually have no idea how an air conditioning system works.
“The students come to me with an open mind. They want to learn about air conditioning and are eager to learn. It is great to have the student be able to start with no knowledge of air conditioning and then be able to wire and troubleshoot a system within a few months,” he said.
Ball teaches three courses per term at SNVTC, which is a four-year comprehensive vocational high school. The three-year “Introduction to Air Conditioning” class involves a two-credit junior class and a three-credit senior class. Juniors completing the class receive their EPA 608 certification, while seniors are required to take the ICE certification as an exit exam.
During the second semester of their senior year, students work for $9 per hour, five days a week for a local HVACR company. This helps them gain real-world experience and may also lead to a job offer after graduation. Getting a job, in itself, can be a challenge, because most of the students graduating from the program are 17, or just turning 18.
“Obtaining auto insurance is expensive for the air conditioning company and the young technician, and some students do not have a driver’s license, nor can they get one,” said Ball.
Recruiting students into the HVAC program is a high priority for Ball, and he takes part in SNVTC’s open house nights, as well as attends job fairs at grade schools. Student ambassadors from SNVTC are also sent out to talk about their HVAC classes at junior high schools, and a video and accompanying brochures are presented to students.
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