“We supply a well-rounded education program here,” said educational director Tom Goodwin. “Having as good a program as we do causes us to have more demand than we can accommodate. We just do not have enough seats for the number of training candidates who come to us by way of the contractors.” The Servicefitter Contractor’s Association and the Union work hard to create a facility that is state-of-the-art and, thereby, a very highly coveted opportunity.
Imagine that, a training school that turns down future technicians. Space is not the only issue. “Not just anyone is accepted into the strenuous, three-year curriculum. The entry bar is set pretty high,” said Goodwin. “Our goal is to provide the right combination of skills and innovative experience-based training. We teach communication and supervision while, at the same time, ensure that future technicians can diagnose, repair, retrofit, install, and service that complicated equipment that the 300 signed contractors provide to the New York and Long Island marketplaces.”
The goal of this program, as set by the Joint Labor Management Trustee Committee, is to graduate knowledgeable and loyal service technicians who are career-minded and devoted to the highest of quality service and total customer satisfaction. In order to meet that goal, the STTC not only trains future service technicians during the day, but also provides industry-specific journeyman training in the evening. Goodwin feels that the only way to continue to lead this industry is to produce the best-trained workforce that we can.
“It is our competitive edge,” said Jerome Morreale of Matco Service Corp. Morreale has been associated with the training center since its inception in the late 1980s. Prior to that time, “all of the contractors did their own thing. Servicefitters were educated through trade schools or whatever training was available,” said Morreale, “but now we have a great school, something to be very proud of as an industry.”
CURRICULUMGoodwin continues to stress: “The industry demands the best mechanics. The STTC, its instructors, and the Joint Labor Management Trustee Committee have pledged to meet that demand. As the industry evolves, so will our curriculum and our graduates.”
In the first year of the three-year curriculum, classes include “Introduction to Refrigeration Cycle,” parts 1 and 2; plus “Basic AC/R Electricity & Introduction to Controls,” parts 1 and 2. The courses for the second year consist of “Operation & Essential Elements of Control Systems” and “Introduction to Copper Connections for HVACR Service Technicians.” Courses for the final year are “Heating Systems,” “Introduction to Solid State Electronics & Controls,” “Advanced Refrigeration Systems,” and “Integrated Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Systems: Evaluation & Diagnostics.”
Each term consists of 13 weeks. During the first two years of a student’s training, they come to school during the day as part of their regular workweek. The third year the student comes for classes in the evening after work.
“We just graduated 34 technicians,” said Goodwin, noting that 63 percent passed the UA Star HVAC Mastery exam, developed jointly by the UA and Ferris State University (Big Rapids, Mich.)
The exam consists of 199 questions. The breakdown is: 18 mechanical, 30 electrical, 37 controls, 39 a/c and refrigeration, 19 heating, 5 steam, 9 ventilation, 12 piping, 4 lifting equipment, 8 safety, 15 math, and 3 customer service.
The cost is $128 per examination, and qualified UA members will earn 32 college credits upon passing the exam. Certificates and patches are provided to those who achieve a passing grade of 158 or more correct answers. The credits are applied to an associate degree in HVACR or Construction Supervision. The remaining 30-35 credits to complete the degree can be obtained elsewhere to complete the associate degree requirements.
“Every piece of equipment we have in our HVACR shop has been donated by contractors or other UA schools,” said Goodwin, who has seen the program grow since stepping into his administrative position five years ago. “We had 75 students at that time. We now have over 160 students. We are happy with our growth.”
OTHER OFFERINGSAlso offered at the training site are advanced education courses. Here, a journeyman can enroll in upgrade classes, such as “Advanced Copper Connection,” “Low Ambient Controls,” “Hot Gas Bypass, Liquid Injections, and Heat Reclaim Valves.”
For Jerome Morreale of Matco Service Corp., the training center has been a long-time coming. The contractor from Carle Place, N.Y., has been pushing for such a training site for more years than he’d like to admit.
“We started the school from basically nothing,” said Morreale, one of the four employer trustees. “We have a lot of union contractors, but we never had training schools. Whatever education a person got, he got it through trade schools or elsewhere. Each contractor did his own thing. There was never a formal program, where contractors could send a student to a formal program.”
Persistence paid off, as the site opened in the early 1990s.
“We now have a good school,” said Morreale. “We are already now on the fourth round of computers. We’d like to make more progress. They feel it’s something to be proud of. We may just have to expand somehow.”