LAS VEGAS — HVAC Excellence welcomed a crowd of nearly 800 for the 13th annual National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas. The conference provides a forum for HVACR instructors to obtain specialized training to keep their programs current and become more effective instructors.

Does it feel like technological advances in the HVACR industry are being made faster than ever? The reason for this feeling is simple: They are. This alarmingly rapid rate of change requires educators to change as well. They must constantly reevaluate what and how they teach to ensure that the training remains aligned with what the industry requires from successful field technicians.

Equally important, HVACR instructors need to adapt to the learning styles of Generation Z to successfully recruit and train them. That is why HVAC Excellence hosts this annual event.

During their keynote presentation, Richard Benkowski and Laura Ceja, both representing the United Association (UA), affirmed that the industry must embrace change to effectively recruit, engage, and train the next generation of HVACR technicians. To illustrate how quickly changes are occurring, they compared the timeframes during which various technologies and platforms reached 50 million users. While it took the airplane 68 years, and the automobile 62 years to reach the 50-million-user level, it took desktop computing only 14 years, the cell phone only 12 years, Facebook only 3 years, and “Pokemon Go” only 19 days. The introduction of new technologies requires that all must adapt or face the very real possibility of becoming obsolete.

One very real challenge facing the industry is that HVACR instructors must now teach technologies that they themselves never encountered when they were in the field. Additionally, to be an effective instructor, they need a solid understanding of the physics and theories on which the HVACR industry is based.

To assist instructors in meeting the challenges associated with incorporating emerging technologies and teaching techniques in their classrooms — while maintaining confidence when teaching the basics — more than 70 lecture and hands-on breakout sessions were offered.

One key area of interest to many in attendance was inverter-driven technologies. Ductless mini split systems and variable-capacity systems comprise one of the fastest growing segments in the HVACR industry. To help attendees traverse these technologies, and incorporate them into their classrooms, Daikin, Fujitsu, and Mitsubishi hosted several sessions. Those who attended all three of the Fujitsu sessions or the full-day Daikin event received a number of training resources, otherwise unavailable.

As if the sessions were not enough to keep busy, attendees were able to meet with organizations that were showcasing the latest in training resources during the HVACR exposition. The exposition provided an opportunity to learn about equipment, tools, test instruments, educational trainers, curricula, assessments, chemicals, and much more from industry-leading companies. Taking place at center stage was an instructor’s contest that enabled attendees to showcase their knowledge and skills.

Taking gold in the competition was Seth LaRiviere, a service trainer from Macdonald-Miller and Co., located in Kent, Washington. In total, nearly $40,000 in prizes were given away, providing those who participated in the contest and/or walked the exhibit hall access to some free resources to assist them with the training they offer.

To identify areas where attendees need professional development, HVAC Excellence offered its HVAC Excellence Educator Credentialing Exams — a series of written exams designed specifically for HVACR instructors. The discipline-specific exams identify if an instructor possesses mastery of specific fundamental content areas they will be teaching, or if they need additional training in that area. Passing a standardized teacher certification exam is a basic requirement for employment in most states. Similarly, states and schools needed a standardized measurement of a job applicant’s knowledge and readiness to be an HVACR instructor, regardless of institution or location.

Because HVACR educational programs must adapt to remain relevant, some HVACR training institutions opt to obtain industry-recognized, programmatic accreditation through an independent third party that validates the training they offer. Since everyone is the benefactor or victim of the training they receive, the accreditation process verifies that HVACR educational programs have the equipment, tools, resources, and administrative support to successfully prepare students for entry-level positions in this ever-changing industry.

In front of a national audience of their peers, Dr. James Crisp of HVAC Excellence recognized the accomplishments of the 22 schools granted HVAC Excellence accreditation within the past year. These schools have voluntarily decided to undergo a process to identify their HVACR programs as ones that meet or exceed nationally established standards.

The next conference will be held March 23-25, 2020 at the South Point Hotel.

Publication date: 4/22/2019

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