LAS VEGAS, NV — The Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) gave its members an update on current training and certification initiatives at the organization’s 17th annual Education Conference.

Don House, HVACR service and residential director for the United Association (UA), spoke to attendees about the new UA S.T.A.R. certification program. Donald Dietiker, training coordinator for Local 250 in Los Angeles, CA, provided insight about the training program currently being used in Southern California.


Dietiker provided background on Local 250 and the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Training Center (ARC) of Southern California. He explained that the two have been working together “to train and produce the most competent workforce.”

Dietiker explained that the program has provided service technicians to the California area for the last 50 years, but recently, the local industry has seen a decline in technicians.

“We wanted to recapture the work and recover the people,” said Dietiker. “We were losing market share in L.A., and decided we had to have a collective effort.”

Local 250 and the ARC developed the Mechanical Equipment Serviceman (MES) training. This training is separate from the traditional apprenticeship and journeyman training, and is geared specifically to increase market share. Topics covered in MES training include compressors, zone controls, variable-frequency drives, and air and water balance. The training also focuses on non-technical topics, such as safety and customer relations. Dietiker said that the program includes classroom instruction, interactive television, and Web-based training.

More information on MES can be found at (website).


House then spoke about the UA S.T.A.R. certification. The certification is still in its early stages, but according to House, there has been a great deal of interest among union contractors and technicians.

“We want to ensure that we have qualified employees,” House said about the certification. “Now that we’ve set the bar, we believe this will enhance the skill levels.”

UA S.T.A.R. was developed by the UA and Ferris State University and tests on several areas, including mechanical systems, electrical systems, controls, A/C and refrigeration, heating, steam systems, plumbing, and ventilation.

Individuals can only take the exam after they have completed their apprenticeship. When they pass the UA S.T.A.R. certification, they receive a service patch and will be allowed to use the UA S.T.A.R. emblem in advertising.

The UA and MSCA would like to get the UA S.T.A.R. symbol out to the public and educate them about the certification.

Those who pass the exam will earn 30 college credits through Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, MI. These credits can be used towards an associate’s degree in HVACR or construction supervision. The technician must then earn 18 credits of general education in order to receive the degree. House said these credits could eventually be transferred and used towards a bachelor’s degree through Ferris State.

“It’s great that we are finally tying into the academic world,” he said.

For more information, visit (website).

Publication date: 11/11/2002