While many schools have shuttered their vocational programs, a new school is starting up in Indiana that is proud to offer career and technical education in HVACR. York’s Quality Education & Training Center LLC, which was founded in 2008 by Bill Kingery and Aaron York Sr., began offering regular classes in 2010.

Kingery, the school’s president, has over 30 years of experience in postsecondary education. Over the course of his career, he has seen many schools drop their heating and air conditioning programs out of a desire to appear more collegiate. “That’s not my vision,” Kingery said. “I want to be a technical school and I’m proud to be a technical school.”

As fellow founder and the school’s chairman of the board, York shares this vision. At 77, he has over 60 years of experience in HVAC and wants to pass his enthusiasm and passion for the trade along to the next generation. “More than anything else, this is an opportunity to put what Bill and I have into the youth of America and give them an opportunity,” York said.

Getting Started

According to Kingery, “We have two businesses within one school, offering both short-term contract training and long-term education.” The center has already trained one local contractor’s technicians, and it is currently providing night classes for adult education students. The goal is to begin offering its long-term education program in January 2012. This program will last around a year and provide graduates with a solid foundation in HVACR and a diploma.

The main campus of the school is located at 201 South Rural Street in Indianapolis, but no classes are currently offered there. Instead, the school is using satellite campuses in the city at the Area 31 Career Center. Students can enroll either through the career center or through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Initially, courses are being offered only at night to adult education students.

“Next year in September we will probably offer classes during the day because we’ll focus on students graduating from high school,” Kingery explained.

Entrance Requirements

What sets the new school apart from the pack are its entrance requirements. In order to enroll in the long-term education program, applicants are required to pass a drug test, have a driver’s license, possess a high school diploma or GED, and pass a 13-week introductory course. Additionally, applicants must pass a standardized aptitude test for HVAC.

“Our school is going to be exceptional because of our entrance requirements,” Kingery said. “The reason why we demand all these requirements is because our employers do.” He added that the school will accept someone without a driver’s license but they must submit a written plan for how they’re going to obtain one by the time they graduate.

Instead of charging an application fee, Kingery expects applicants to show their commitment to the program by getting a drug test. “What happens is they pay for the drug test and get a photo ID card [after passing it]. On the fourth day of school, we will start charging tuition, and we will credit their tuition the cost of the drug test. Ultimately we’ll pay for the test, but only if you pass and come to the school.”

Kingery believes his is the only school with a drug test requirement. “I believe with all my heart that by requiring a drug test, you’ll avoid 95 percent of the problems,” he said.

Kingery also explained that he wants to prevent student attrition by requiring a prerequisite course. “The only way you can get into our school is to first go through that [13-week introductory] program through Area 31 or IUPUI. And then once you’ve completed and passed that program that is one of the criteria to become eligible to be my student. You can’t come off the street to be my student,” he said. “My belief is if you’re required to go through that course first before you’re my student, I’ll have the highest retention in the country.” He added that the intro course only costs $350.

“The advantage is once a person completes that program, if they do decide they want to further their education, all of the modules they have passed will transfer to my school,” Kingery said.

Solid Foundation

“We really want employers to seek out our graduates, and we really believe with our requirements and rigor that will be the case,” Kingery said. The school will take attendance every day and expect students to dress professionally.

York’s Quality Education & Training Center has been accredited through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). “My accredited training sponsor is the American School of Technology located in Columbus, Ohio. They have been teaching HVACR for approximately 20 years,” Kingery explained. “We’re sister schools. They oversee and make sure that I follow the NCCER guidelines under their umbrella.”

The school is based on NCCER’s four-year, non-union apprenticeship program. According to Kingery, NCCER’s curriculum is competency based, so it requires written and hands-on testing.

York noted that their version of the program is accelerated. He said, “We will put into [the students] the same amount of knowledge in one year that they [traditionally] get in four to five years. They won’t have as much hands-on training, but they will have the knowledge.”

At present, the school has hired one full-time instructor, David Spence. Spence has nearly 40 years of experience in heating and air conditioning, and he is teaching the night classes. Kingery intends to hire more instructors in the not-too-distant future.

Additionally, Kingery will teach classes on soft skills. “One of the things we want to do is teach ethics and professionalism, on top of heating and air conditioning,” Kingery said. “That’s something I’m very passionate about.”

Not to be left out, York will serve as a guest lecturer. According to Kingery, York is the “motivator — he’s the guy that provides students with the enthusiasm and feeling of self worth.”

Future Goals

While Kingery wants to grow the school, he doesn’t want to produce more graduates than the local market can absorb. He hopes to expand the school to other areas, including Fort Wayne and Evansville.

“You can saturate a market, but by offering it in other towns, then you’re able to still keep placement rates high because of demand for graduates,” he said.

Kingery anticipates that he will start his long-term program next year with 15 to 20 students, but envisions enrolling 150 students in the Indianapolis school in the future.

“I think HVACR is a very respectable and honorable industry, and a person can make a good living in it,” Kingery continued. “I believe in it with all my heart.”

York stated that the new school’s ultimate goal is to turn out superior students “who have no problem getting a job and a decent wage” after graduating.

Publication date: 12/19/2011