It was all part of an educational process in a curriculum still in its infancy at the Westampton location, one of two BCIT campuses. “This is only our second year at this branch at BCIT,” said instructor Jeff Babbitt, who changed professions after running a successful mechanical contracting business that grossed over $11 million. “The other campus [Medford, N.J.] has had a program for approximately 15 years.”
Babbitt said the level of interest in the HVAC program has been “incredible,” adding, “several of the students have changed their career major choices this year to enter our program and there is much talk this year about more transfers from existing majors into ours.
“My students are very excited about the amount of knowledge they are gaining. There is a definite demand in the local market for HVAC technicians in all areas.”
The courses offered in the HVAC curriculum include gas heat, oil heat, heat pumps, air conditioning, sheet metal, refrigeration, troubleshooting, electrical wiring, codes, piping, and venting. Students learn residential and commercial service and installation.
“Our school has a very active school-to-work department and does an excellent job with placement for all of our career major programs,” said Babbitt. “My son now has his own HVAC company and we place the students with him directly. Our students also manufacture ductwork in our shop for local contractors and make a little extra money.”
Babbitt said there are 30 students enrolled in the curriculum and the school recently started night classes for its adult education program. “The adult education program teaches basic HVAC theory, installation, and service,” he said. “This is going three evenings per week for four hours per evening. Next year we will be starting a four-hour per week advanced troubleshooting course and an all day Saturday course installing a high-pressure air-handling system with a boiler, VAVs, reheat, DDC control system, and ductwork.”
There are currently 18 students in the adult education program.
One student visiting NAOHSM, Tyler Stokes, spoke highly of Babbitt. “He changed our lives in more than one way,” he said. “All of the other teachers look up to him and try to make their classes as good. But we know that can’t happen - we are the only shop that has him as a teacher.”
For more information, visit www.bcit.cc.