Pictured are the Wenatchee Valley College students that took part in this year's AHR Expo. Left to right, back row: Adam Vickery, Andrey Berezhnoy, Travis McNall, Ed Hall, Spencer Winstanley, and Troy Motzkus. Left to right, front row: Allan Page, Mark Cooper, Carl Brunette, Raul Sanchez, David Shapovalov, and instructor Greg Jourdan.

ATLANTA, GA — The focal point of each yearly AHR Expo is the number of manufacturers who turn up to show the latest products set to hit the market. But there are also other activities and events that are going on within the expo that many visitors are usually not aware of.

The expo is not only a place to sell and buy the newest products, but it is also an event that hosts a number of educational opportunities. While contractors by the thousands showed up in Atlanta this year, the same was true for many hvacr students. Though there may not have been thousands of them, a great many individuals from hvacr programs from around the country turned out to see what the industry has in store and to take part in several educational sessions.

Coming From Near and Far

Greg Jourdan, hvacr program director and instructor at Wenatchee Valley College, in Wenatchee, WA, came down to Atlanta for the expo and brought along 11 of his students as well.

This isn’t the first time Jourdan has done this; he and several of his students have attended the past five AHR Expos, including the Dallas, TX, Chicago, IL, and Philadelphia, PA shows.

This year, Jourdan and his students traveled over 2,500 miles to get to the conference. This included driving 130 miles over two mountain passes from Wenatchee to Seattle, flying to Chicago, and then connecting on to a flight to Atlanta.

The traveling was not the only aspect of the trip that was difficult. Jourdan’s students raise money each year to attend wherever the conference will be held. Jourdan says his students have participated in a number of fundraising efforts. For example, the students repaired window air conditioners and refrigerators for senior citizens. They also took part in a copper salvage, sold Christmas gift boxes, and held car washes.

The work, according to Jourdan, needs to start at least six to nine months before the conference in order to raise enough money to attend. And he also says that it is well worth it.

“It inspires students to stick with the industry,” said Jourdan about attending the conference. “I find that most of the students who go stay with what they are doing.”

He says that the expo opens students up to a number of possibilities. It also makes them aware of how large the hvacr market is.

For example, Jourdan says it is an eye-opening experience for his students to see manufacturers and companies from all over the world.

“They get to see a global market,” said Jourdan.

The students also get to see more educational opportunities. Colleges and universities also have booths at the expo. Jourdan says one of his students was able to stop by the Ferris State University booth. Ferris, in Big Rapids, MI, has a four-year hvacr program and offers a bachelor’s degree upon completion. Jourdan says that his student is now seriously considering furthering his education and transferring his credits to Ferris when he finishes his education at Wenatchee Valley College.

Educational Seminars

Jourdan’s students not only browsed the booths, but took part in several educational sessions presented by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and many other participating sponsor organizations. These educational sessions included topics on basic refrigeration, residential mechanical ventilation, fundamentals of load calculations, and much more.

Jourdan’s class attended the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute’s (ARI) educational meeting. The institute brought in a few guest speakers to make the hvacr students aware of their options in the industry and to encourage them to keep going.

Jourdan says the ARI meeting was also beneficial to his students because they were able to see that they were not limited to being service technicians when they graduate and go out into the field.

Leslie Sandler, director of education for ARI, spoke to the students and encouraged them to stay in the industry. She told them about the benefits and advantages they will have upon entering the field. This includes good job security and high pay.

Wes Taylor, a member of the Industry Competency Exam (ICE) committee, also spoke with the students and made them aware of their options. He told the students that they are not limited to being service technicians or engineers. Taylor explained that there are opportunities in wholesaling and other branches of the industry. He encouraged the students, no matter what path they take, to continue obtaining a technical background and keep advancing in the field.

Jourdan says that the response of his students was positive and upbeat.

“All of the students now recognize the benefit of finishing their education and then finding full-time employment in the business,” he said.

This report provides information for contractors living in the Norhtwest/Upper Midwest region of the United States. This includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. If you have information from this region, please contact James J. Siegel at 248-244-1731; 248-362-0317 (fax); or siegelj@bnp.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 04/02/2001

Web date: 06/18/2001