Instructors stop by The NEWS’ table during an evening reception.

LANSDOWNE, Va. - In late March, instructors from around the country gathered at the annual HVACR & Mechanical Instructor Workshop at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Va. At the three-day annual event, which was hosted by the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), they shared their experiences and brushed up on industry knowledge and skills.

Topics covered in sessions included new quality assurance programs, flexible duct installation, jobsite safety, vacuum pumps, refrigerant pipe sizing, psychrometrics, biofuels, VFD drives, belt maintenance, recruitment, and more. One of the most popular sessions was a session that featured live-fire oil and gas burners presented by Carlin Combustion.

On the afternoon of the first day, all of the instructors gathered for an instructor exchange session. At the session, participants were encouraged to become members of the Council of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Educators (CARE) so they could share their ideas and lesson materials with other educators. Members of CARE share files and ideas on the CARE website,, which is password-protected. According to Kevin Couch, an instructor at R.G. Drage Career Center and CARE member, “The website is about instructors just trying to share to make their lives easier.”


A panel session was held on the second day of the workshop to encourage collaboration between industry and education. It included panelists representing contracting, manufacturing, and training organizations. The goal was to encourage an exchange between industry members describing what they are looking for in future employees, and for instructors to share what they in turn need from the industry. “Industry and education have to be involved together,” said Warren Lupson, AHRI’s director of education.

Panelists listed off a variety of qualities they desire in entry-level employees, including NATE certification, willingness to take a drug test, current driver’s license, and a good driving record. Other desired qualities include punctuality, the ability to work independently as well as part of a team, an aptitude for math, comfort with heights, affinity for technology, and an interest in lifelong learning.


The leadership of CARE was reorganized during the conference. Joel Owen, after serving for two years as president, was named as past president to serve for another two years on the board. Harold Nelson, who had been serving as CARE secretary, was elected as president. In addition, Suzie Sands, Kevin Couch, Mark DeBoe, and Mark Peila continue to serve on the board.

On the final day of the event, all of the participants convened for an early morning wrap-up session. Tim Lawrence from Skills USA was the main presenter, and he began by simply saying “thank you” to the gathered educators. “What you do makes a tremendous difference,” he said. Lawrence also urged instructors to have their students participate in the SkillsUSA HVAC competitions.

Awards were also presented to a few attendees, including a NEWS presentation to recognize Jeff Sweda of Hazleton Area Career Center as the 2010 Instructor of the Year.

Additionally, Owen presented the CARE presidential award to AHRI’s Lupson.

Publication date:05/23/2011