Don Crawshaw works with a student
Don Crawshaw, HVAC department chair, Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Springs, Colo., is the runner-up in The NEWS’ 2012 Best Instructor contest.
Don Crawshaw believes that if a student is driven to succeed, he can accomplish anything. As the HVAC department chair at Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Springs, Colo., Crawshaw, 51, is the motivating force behind a fleet of young learners destined to follow in his footsteps as leaders of the industry’s next generation.

Career Building

Crawshaw grew up in southeastern Kansas and attended Independence High School before enrolling at Independence Community College, where he earned an associate’s degree in technical theater. After graduating, he took a job with Lee’s Cooling and Heating in Independence, Kan., to pay the bills. After a decade of service, he accepted a position with Source Refrigeration in Salt Lake City, Utah, and eventually relocated to Colorado Springs.

Throughout his 30-plus-year career, he was often appointed to train his peers on the refrigeration cycle, electricity troubleshooting, and much more.

Looking to give back to the industry that has blessed him with so much, he turned to teaching and accepted a job with Intellitec College in Colorado Springs. After three years of classroom instruction, he landed a position as HVAC department chair at Pikes Peak Community College.

“I consider myself an active teacher. I’m always moving and trying to liven up the classroom; not a day goes by where we aren’t laughing at something,” said Crawshaw. “While we do use books, they’re only a small part of our curriculum. We try to get as much hands-on work as possible, and I’m always looking to get a new set of hands on a different piece of equipment. Attempting to do it themselves and then fixing their own mistakes — this is how students really learn.”

Notable Knowledge

Crawshaw is especially knowledgeable in the areas of refrigeration theory, commercial refrigeration, and electrical troubleshooting. To help streamline the troubleshooting process, he designed a hands-on trainer that utilizes a basic HVAC wiring diagram across several series circuits. Each circuit is color coded, allowing students to trace their steps as they learn wiring procedures, voltage codes, and more.

“This way, students can see exactly what happens when a fan switch is closed, or there is a call for heating or cooling,” said Crawshaw. “The trainer alerts students when a connection is dysfunctional, allowing them to backtrack and fix the issue.”

Crawshaw said he recognizes the rigors of technician work, and how important it is to be multifaceted.

“Eight years from now, around 65 percent of people in the HVAC industry will be new to the trade. We’ve got a huge amount of people to train in a short amount of time, and we need to make sure that we’re training them properly,” he said. “Top technicians are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and tackle projects of all shapes and sizes. These are the types of workers we are building here at Pikes Peak.”

Well Respected

In June, Crawshaw received the acclaimed Certified Master HVACR Educator (CMHE) honor from HVAC Excellence. He is one of 53 CMHE accredited instructors nationwide.

Crawshaw’s direct supervisor, Jim Kynor, associate dean of manufacturing, industry, and career and technical education, Division of Communications, Humanities, and Technical Studies, Pikes Peak Community College, said Don is a very resourceful instructor.

“Whether the issue is procedural, bureaucratic, or budgetary, Don ensures that he meets the needs of his training programs and students,” said Kynor. “He holds his students to very high standards and seeks to instill a strong work ethic and pride in the HVAC profession.”

Kynor said he considers Crawshaw to be one of the college’s best instructors. “He is not afraid to dream big and is very resourceful in securing equipment and other resources when funding is limited,” he said. “His tenacity has helped to grow the HVACR training program beyond even his expectations.”

Student Joshua Thomas said Crawshaw has helped boost his confidence. “If we make a mistake, he helps us fix it and gives us pointers on how we can do a better job,” said Thomas. “He lets us know that it is OK to make mistakes, relates the material better than anyone else, and gives us the best possible chance to succeed.”

Publication date: 11/12/2012