Dennis G. Soukup took over the reins of the HVAC program at the Community College of Southern Nevada (CCSN) in spring 2003. Since then, enrollment at the Henderson, Nev., school has increased 35 percent, and the Industry Competency Exams (ICE) commercial exam has been established as the final exam for a two-year degree course that now shows a 90 percent success rate.

Soukup earned honorable mention status in the Best Instructor competition sponsored by The NEWS and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

Click on "Quick Stats" for a brief rundown on Soukup.

Soukup began his career with an HVAC education, and now he is giving back in kind. Soukup said, "Thirty-two years ago, I returned from service in Vietnam to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. Seeing the tremendous opportunities in the HVACR field, I enrolled in adult education night classes to start a new career. By 1981, I had earned my contractor's license and opened my own business, Sunrise Refrigeration. I began teaching at the Community College of Southern Nevada as a part-time adjunct instructor."

Since becoming department chairman of the Community College HVACR program he has sought and received more than $250,000 in Perkins Federal Grants and $60,000 in technology funding for the rebuilding of the HVAC laboratories and new instrumentation and trainer modules at the college.

One of Soukup's accomplishments of which he is most proud is the organization of a SkillsUSA team. "The team finished sixth in the country in its first year of competition, 2005; third in 2006, and has its eyes on the top award for the 2007 summer competition," said Soukup.

Erick Sheldon, a former student who nominated Soukup for the award, said, "He is a frequent guest speaker at area middle schools, high schools, and trade organizations to educate the public about the community college's air conditioning technology program, emphasizing the value of education in furthering one's career opportunities and improving the community as a whole."

Sheldon also said that Soukup encourages professionalism in the industry. "He applies his broad professional and social influence to assist students in job placement during their education as well as upon graduation."

Certainly, the kind of instructor that the HVAC industry is proud to showcase as one of the best instructors in the country.

Publication date: 11/13/2006