EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. — More than 550 current and future HVACR students submitted 250-word essays to enter hilmor’s annual Retool Your Future contest, which awards winners a prize package consisting of a $5,000 scholarship, an HVACR starter kit, and a hilmor merchandising Green Wall donated to their school.

After an exhaustive review by a panel of judges, hilmor is pleased to announce the 2017 Retool Your Future contest winners:

Bradley Braziel is adept at learning. Armed with two master’s degrees, his focus has been on teaching history at the secondary and university levels. Now, the 50-year-old Braziel drives more than 450 miles every week to Southwest Arkansas State in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to learn the HVACR trade. He will graduate in December of this year. He plans to work in residential HVACR and commercial refrigeration. Braziel is married and has one son.

Kassie Garland is an apprentice for Robinson Realty Solutions in Collinsville, Illinois. She will graduate from Vatterott College in Fairview Heights, Illinois, in November 2017 and hopes to continue working on residential installations as well as with commercial systems. Garland, 35, is the only female in her class, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA, and has found her fellow students and instructors to be very encouraging and accepting. She is a former paraprofessional special education teacher. A grandmother, Garland is married with three children and two stepchildren.

Timothy Kauffman will earn his associate degree in HVACR from Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, Virginia, after completing an apprenticeship program in the spring of 2018. Upon graduation, the 44-year-old plans to enter the HVACR workforce or continue his education in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in HVACR engineering technology. The hardworking Kauffman works 56 hours a week with a local municipal fire department while taking 12 credit hours per semester. Kauffman has twin 11-year-old boys with his wife of 22 years.

Ningkang (Ryan) Jiang will complete a refrigeration foundation program from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, British Columbia, in June of this year. Despite his family’s expectation that he pursue a career in medicine, law, or teaching, Jiang has found his calling in the HVACR industry. After obtaining his education, the 24-year-old wants to specialize in commercial refrigeration at institutions such as hospitals and data centers.

Mark Sanders will graduate in May 2018 from Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tennessee. His transition to the HVACR industry came about after his job of 17 years was relocated, and the plant where he worked was closed. His long-term goal is to start his own HVACR company. Heating and cooling runs in the family; his father was an HVACR technician. Sanders, 46, is married and has two daughters.

Nate Whiteford is carrying on the family tradition by entering into the HVACR industry; his father and three brothers are already HVACR technicians. Whiteford, a straight-A student, is enrolled at North Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. His three part-time jobs in the industry complement his coursework and are preparing him for a successful HVACR career.

“It’s important to build a pipeline of talent for skilled trades like HVACR,” said Andrea Halpin, senior marketing manager, hilmor. “We’re pleased to support these students as they begin their new careers.”

In addition to the scholarship and prize package, winners got the opportunity to learn more about the industry by attending the 2017 AHR Expo.

For more information, visit hilmor.com.

Publication date: 3/6/2017

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