Suffolk County Community College HVAC students learn the refrigeration cycle from instructor Eugene Silberstein (center, kneeling).

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. - This has been a big year for Eugene Silberstein, HVACR Instructor and coordinator at the Suffolk County Community College. Plans are being completed for the department’s new building - nearly all to itself - and groundbreaking is expected to take place early next year at the college’s Brentwood campus.

However, it’s Silberstein’s dedication to students that landed him as a runner up in the Best Instructor contest co-sponsored byThe NEWSand the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. It’s the third year in a row that the teacher has brought home the honor.

“We’re breaking ground on a brand new facility, and this is major,” he toldThe NEWS. “The new building will be called the Workforce Development Training Center, and there is going to be another program utilizing one of our labs for mechatronics” (robotics and other manufacturing technologies). “The coordinator of that program will be working with me,” Silberstein continued. Approximately 99 percent of the 18,000-square-foot building will be dedicated to HVAC. It is expected to open for the fall of 2009.

The program has come a long way since it started in 2003, housed in one room of a campus building.

HVAC students and Silberstein (center) put skills to work.


The department regularly checks the pulse of area businesses. Results are discussed in committee and can impact the direction of the department’s training.

For example, the department’s advisory committee recently discussed what HVACR contracting companies are looking for.

They agreed contracting companies are more concerned with soft skills - attitude, attendance, appearance, and loyalty - a bit more than technical skills. Although the technical skills are important, they agreed, it’s clear that these skills are more easily taught than “personal hygiene/appearance” skills.

On the technical side, it seems new technicians are lacking in electrical knowledge. “Controls seem to be one of the weakest aspects of the industry,” the group stated. New technologies that need to be focused on include electronic/digital controls, smart systems, green technologies, and system efficiency.

Suffolk County Community College HVAC students (from left) Eric Centeno, Ivan Csibi, Sean Sallee, Victor Sanchez, Jose Pazmino, Daniel Bardales, Joe Rossi, Richard Morano, Robert Miller, Derek Philcox, Samuel Arzonu, and John Goicochea surround their three-time Best Instructor winner Silberstein (center).


Job experience through an internship program is already working for the department. Job placement assistance currently isn’t formalized, but the department’s intention is to make sure students are placed in positions where they can continue to learn and thrive. Industry outreach is key to that goal.

Silberstein’s course of study includes both hands-on and text-book training, but it also includes offsite tours and events, to show the students real-world applications where they can meet with other industry professionals, observe the operation of commercial systems, and perform tasks that they simply could not experience on campus.

Students spent three nights at Cool Power, an air conditioning company in Hauppauge, N.Y. They worked in the sheet metal shop learning to lay out, cut, and fabricate duct sections. At Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass. (home of the New England Patriots), students were able to inspect the turf-conditioning radiant heating system installed under the playing field.

“Professor Silberstein is more that just an educator,” said mechanic Dan Suriel. “He’s a mentor who is always there when you have questions. He’s a father figure who you try to make proud. Professor Silberstein’s passion for the HVACR industry is second to none.”



INSTRUCTOR:Eugene Silberstein

COLLEGE OR SCHOOL:Suffolk County Community College

LOCATION:Brentwood, N.Y.


EXAMS:NATE, EPA certification, ICE

Publication date:11/05/2007