Boyd King
Boyd King of Oklahoma State University - Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Okla., has been named the runner-up in the 2011 Best Instructor contest.

According to Boyd King, his roots run deep at the Oklahoma State University — Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Okla., where he works as an instructor. “I’m the third brother that’s graduated from this program,” he said. “The oldest graduated in 1983, the middle brother graduated in 1986, and I graduated in 1996.”

Because of his family’s roots, as well as the work experience that helped him return to OSU-IT, King is a great fit with both the school and his students. According to former student Joe Bates, “Mr. King lives and breathes HVACR. He really knows how to connect with students, and he will do anything he can to help a student.” And that helps to explain why The NEWS is honoring King as runner-up in the 2011 Best Instructor Contest.

Getting Started

After King graduated from OSU-IT, he worked for a couple of years in the field as an ACR service technician. Then he was presented with the opportunity to come back and do facility maintenance on the Okmulgee campus. After nine years of working as facility engineer, King transitioned to being an instructor. “I’ve been teaching for the last four and a half years,” he said.

The transition from maintenance to employment isn’t unheard of in his program. “This has happened three times here on our campus,” King said. “The gentleman that taught commercial refrigeration for almost 30 years had done building maintenance here.” Additionally, the program just hired another of the college’s facility engineers as a teacher.

“It’s a good fit,” King said. “One of the advantages of hiring somebody off the campus is that they’re familiar with students and their needs. Mentoring students, being able to relate to students, and help them inside and outside the classroom — that’s the largest part of being an instructor.”

In particular, King noted that he is able to relate to the young students who come from small towns. “It’s a lot easier to communicate on their level,” he said.

Program Basics

King is proud that OSU-IT’s air conditioning program was founded in 1947, and currently boasts 125 students. First and foremost, he said, are the fundamentals. “I really enjoy teaching the core,” he said. “The thing that stands out the most in my class is the fundamentals — the refrigeration circuit, welding, brazing, and thermodynamics.”

Each class is set up to be 30 percent theory and 70 percent lab work. For the labs, King said, students are given a specific task. “We try to work those lab jobs just like service calls,” he said. Labs cover everything from controls and BMS to chillers and commercial refrigeration. “We estimate that they see 10 years of troubleshooting in 15 weeks of the electrical controls class,” he said. “We try to put pressure on them like the pressure on technicians out in the field.”

OSU-IT operates on a trimester schedule, so students take six full semesters to complete the program. Included in the curriculum is a 15-week internship, which takes place during the third and fourth semesters. “We set it up so they’re out for the full summer,” King explained, adding, “We have a very good intern base as far as internship possibilities. We’ve had well over 100 places that guys have gone out and interned.”

Job Placement

King is also dedicated to enabling his students to find jobs. When they first enroll in the program, students are required to take a personality assessment test. Basically, King explained, the profile developed from the test shows whether the student is an introvert or an extrovert.

“Then I start pulling out all of these possibilities they’re going to see in our industry, like residential, commercial, controls, or air conditioning. Each one of those different parts of our industry requires a different personality,” he said.

“What I try to do early in education here is think about how their personality is going to play a role in the industry. I tell them, ‘Guys, you need to try to find an internship that’s going to fit your personality. If you like working with people, jump on residential air conditioning and get some sales in there. If you’re introverted and meticulous, look at commercial air conditioning. Go into the mechanical room where you maybe have to work by yourself for three to four weeks.’ ”

Overall, King said, “Attendance and personality are the two biggest needs that our contractors have.”

Making an Impact

According to King, all the work he puts in it is worth it when he sees “a light bulb go off in somebody’s head.” He added, “It’s very rewarding to be able to make an impact on somebody’s life.”

Current student Jesse Talon Turner said, “I consider Mr. King to be a great teacher as well as a friend. … He pushed me out of my comfort zone, which helped me develop confidence in what I am learning and even security in who I am. I have been able to go to Mr. King and talk to him about personal issues that I need advice on or direction. I know that Mr. King is dedicated to making a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Former student Joe Bates said that King “spends lots of extra time helping students understand what he’s teaching.” He continued, “I could read out of the book all night and day and not be able to really understand what it is that I’m reading until I go to Mr. King’s class and listen to him speak about it. When we’re in class listening for two hours it’s never boring. He keeps our attention going. And any time we need help with another class, even though he’s not teaching it, he will help us on it and help us understand better than the other teachers can.”

King said that part of what inspires him goes back to the teachers he had who went the extra step for him. When he was put into an environment that was hands-on, he excelled. “I learned that I could learn,” he said. “I’ve seen such a change in me, so when I see the students that come in and don’t think that they can succeed, I know there’s a chance for them.”

Publication date: 11/14/2011