FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC) Educational Foundation has announced its second annual HVAC Apprentice Contest, scheduled for Oct. 8-9 in New Orleans.

The HVAC Apprentice Contest features 12 top HVAC apprentices in a hands-on competition comprised of six events: (1) brazing, where contestants assemble a refrigeration circuit with components following a drawing; (2) refrigerant recovery and identification; (3) a written knowledge test; (4) taking readings on a working package unit; (5) electrical troubleshooting; and (6) basic electrical skills and wiring.

“The contest really set the bar for what we should know,” said 2013 winner Tyler Plueger, a technician with Downey Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Southern California, “and, while it was a bit of an eye opener in some areas, it also helped confirm some things I already knew.”

In the end, Plueger considers the contest’s practical application key to his success. “Hands-on is where you really learn most of your stuff,” he said of his preparation as an apprentice. “If I had just read the book, there’s no way I could have won,” he noted. “It’s like being in a lab, doing recovery and troubleshooting … that was the biggest factor in helping me in this competition.”

While Plueger is enjoying bragging rights, the tool package he received as the contest winner is the more practical part of his victory. “Especially in the HVAC industry, where things change so quickly with the technology, having those up-to-date tools makes my job so much easier,” he said. Plueger estimates that the tool package he took home — which included power tools, diagnostic equipment, and some small hand tools — is worth $1,500 to $2,000.

For more information and a contest application for this year’s HVAC Apprentice Contest, click here.

Publication date: 4/21/2014

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