The new Building Automation Systems Certificate program at College of DuPage will prepare students for a growing field that merges traditional HVACR knowledge with computer and IT skills.

Recently approved by the Illinois Community College Board, the program is aimed at students who want entry-level positions as building controls technicians and current building stationary operating engineers who want to upgrade their skills and credentials.

“In a vast majority of commercial buildings, whether they are medium or industrial sized, the building’s systems — including HVAC, lights, elevators, and alarms — are now controlled and monitored by computers,” said Jim Janich, professor of HVACR. “Building automation is the fastest-growing area of the HVACR industry and makes up the core of the ‘green building’ trend. The perfect worker is someone who knows both the mechanical and computer systems, and a lot of companies are desperate to hire these people. But too few employees currently have both skills sets,” he said.

To prepare for this program, Janich wrote letters to manufacturers of digital control systems worldwide to discuss equipment needs and curriculum. Automated Logic Corp., located in DuPage County, replied and eventually donated $50,000 in hardware and software as well as expertise in curriculum development.

The new certificate consists of 37 credits and includes six new courses: Heating Principles, Building Automation Systems Object-Oriented Programming (both I and II), Building Commissioning, Building Automation Systems Solutions, and Building Automation Systems Integration with Open Protocols. Janich and Bob Clark, assistant professor of HVACR, also worked on the curriculum with the Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center.

Faculty, staff, and students worked together to install the controls that will be used in the automation systems lab. John Kronenburger, associate dean of technology at College of DuPage, said the controls are integrated with the systems in the HVACR lab, creating a cohesive “central plant” learning environment that encompasses the many facets of the HVACR industry.

“The Building Automation Systems Certificate is a unique program that marries building mechanicals with IT,” he said. “The program is training people for jobs that are just being created, as companies are starting to hire in-house employees to run these systems.” 

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Publication date: 3/20/2017

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