Linn State Technical College’s HVACR program was the first in the nation to align itself with PAHRA’s standards. Now, five months after receiving accreditation, Linn State is recognizing the benefits of following PAHRA, and the college is helping other educational programs go through the PAHRA process.
Matthews says that the college was looking into the program even before the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) officially introduced it.
Linn State’s HVACR program already had accreditation through the school system, and approximately three years ago the college was accredited through HVAC Excellence. The college went through the HVAC Excellence accreditation in order to have an outside organization approve the program.
Matthews says that after one year of earning accreditation through HVAC Excellence, PAHRA was made available. He also says that the program decided to go after PAHRA because of its affiliation with ARI.
The entire PAHRA process took about one year to complete. The program had to first submit an application for PAHRA. Next, Matthews had to complete a self-study, which compiled numerous details about the program. This includes details about the instructors, the facilities, the students, and the curriculum. Matthews says that the self-study even asked for the program’s strengths and weaknesses.
Once the self-study was turned in, a site visit was scheduled for Linn State. A PAHRA team leader came to the college and walked through the program to validate that the information in the self-study was correct. After two days of inspection, the site visit was completed. Soon after, Matthews learned that the program had earned PAHRA accreditation.
There are three separate PAHRA accreditations that a program can earn: Residential Air-Conditioning & Heating, Light Commercial Air-Conditioning & Heating, and Commercial Refrigeration. Linn State received PAHRA accreditation in all three sections.
Matthews also says that the work towards accreditation was made simpler with the help of the college administration. He says that once the college knew how important PAHRA was, the administration backed the efforts needed to succeed.
Matthews says that the administration played an important role in adopting PAHRA because “if one person tried to do it, it would be overwhelming.”
Now that Linn State has been accredited in all three sections, the college wants to make sure that other HVACR programs succeed.
Recently, Matthews and his HVACR department held a workshop for other instructors interested in working towards PAHRA. Instructors had the opportunity to ask questions and learn what Linn State did to succeed.
Matthews says that the instructors present at the workshop expressed two major issues in PAHRA accreditation: time and money.
Matthews reinforced the idea that every program must have the backing of its administration. He says that once you have the administration on your side, the money needed to complete PAHRA should be made available.
As for the time factor, Matthews is letting instructors use Linn State as a model. The instructor has made a copy of its PAHRA self-study available to other programs so that they can see what needs to be included and what PAHRA is looking for.
Matthews also says that he would like to see more programs adopt PAHRA because of the rewards that come out of the process.
“Anytime you’re doing anything like this, you learn about your program,” says Matthews. “You learn if your program is doing what it’s suppose to be doing.”
Publication date: 06/24/2002