HVACR industry trade shows are a wealth of information for all members of the trade, from manufacturers to suppliers to contractors. Shows are also a great way for newcomers to the trade – such as vocational students – to learn the equipment they will be working on in the future and the tools they will need to repair, replace, and even design HVACR systems. With so much new technology within their grasp, these students expect to see and touch a lot of gadgets when given the opportunity at an industry show.

At the recent 31st annual ABCO Expo in New York City, hosted by ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions, seven students from three New York City-area vocational trade schools talked about what they liked to touch and feel at the show and how they felt about their futures in the HVACR field. Matthew Deveau, Christopher LeDuc, and Keith Bill are all students in the HVACR program at Suffolk County Community College. Trisha Maneiro, Tyrone James, and Lakim Alston attend Apex Technical School. Yaakov Yenowitz is a student at Lincoln Technical Institute.

Deveau said he is more interested in checking out the tools available for diagnosing and troubleshooting equipment problems. “We learn a lot about the basic equipment in class, and right now we are focusing on diagnostics,” he said. “I’m interested in checking out the infrared cameras and digital gauge sets.” Deveau added that some of the manufacturers he planned to visit included Mitsubishi, Luxaire, and Honeywell.

Fellow classmate LeDuc said he was also interested in tools like vacuum pumps and gauges, but added, “The industry is changing and refrigerant charging is becoming more critical. I want to learn more about refrigerant recovery, especially how to cool down refrigerant on a hot day during recovery.

“This is a great show. I’ve been networking since I walked in the door.”

Bill said he wanted to “take everything in” at the ABCO Expo. He is especially interested in heat pumps, furnaces, and central air conditioning units.

Maniero and her classmates were first-time visitors to the ABCO Expo, and like most newcomers; they were impressed with everything they saw. “I like to look at everything and want to visit with manufacturers like Emerson,” she said. “There are things to see here that we aren’t taught about in school. I want to learn more about condensers. and I think I can here.”

James said he wants to understand how an HVAC system works and the best tools to use on the equipment. “I plan to visit with manufacturers like Klein and Yellow Jacket,” he said. Alston, who likes to work with his hands, wants to learn everything he can while at the show.

Yenowitz, who is interested in a career as a commercial refrigeration tech, plans on learning as much as he can about new products and installation techniques. “I’m specifically looking for information on electrical compressors — and also some demonstrations on brazing techniques,” he said.

The Appeal of HVACR

The votech students would not have attended the show if they didn’t have a vested interest in HVACR careers.

“This is a trade with a lot of old systems,” said Deveau. “There is a need for people who understand the new systems and how much more efficient they are. For example, heat pump technology is really cool because of the use of refrigerants and because heat pumps are becoming more energy efficient.”

LeDuc has been around HVACR his whole life, growing up with a father who worked in the business. He likes the trade for two main reasons — understanding how systems work and seeing the science that goes into the equipment. “It’s all about technology for me,” he said. “I want to be able to talk with people about the newest technology.” He also added that he wants to use this new technology to design systems “that the average person can afford.”

“This is a new age,” he added. “Understanding the system and designing it for peak efficiency is very important.”

Bill, a hands-on person, likes the exclusivity of being a service tech. “I think only a select few people are good enough to be HVACR techs,” he said. “You need to know a little bit about everything, including plumbing, electrical, and design.”

Maneiro is looking to own her own commercial HVAC, refrigeration, and electrical repair business. She has a background in electrical work and has tried several other professions. She feels it is time to make a big splash in the typically male-dominated HVACR field. “It’s going to become Trisha’s field now,” she said.

James is a cabinet maker by trade, and after being laid off from a job in the construction industry, a friend of his recommended looking into HVACR training. “I want to see how far this training will take me,” he said. “I like HVACR because of its theory and practice. I want to own my own service business someday.”

Alston is also a newcomer to HVACR and came into the field without any prior knowledge of the trade. “This is all totally new to me,” he said. “It’s a whole new world for me. I know this, the New York City area, is a good market for HVACR.”

Yenowitz is a former Starbucks manager who said he is more of a hands-on person and saw how interesting the HVACR trade was by being so close to it all of the time. “I would always see service techs in the store, working on our equipment,” he said. “I like Starbucks, but I would prefer to fix their equipment.”

All of the students said they have had positive experiences in their training, citing their ability to do a lot of hands-on work with equipment and the knowledge that is shared with their instructors. Deveau, LeDuc, and Bill all have Eugene Silberstein as their instructor, a former second place finisher in The NEWS’ Best HVACR Instructor annual contest.

“Professor Silberstein helps me step-by-step through the process,” said LeDuc. “He said we should never be afraid to ask any questions. I know that, even if I am in the field working on something, I can call him for answers.”

And it was no surprise that Silberstein walked the ABCO Expo with his students, learning about new technologies as they learned about them.

Publication date: 12/12/2011