Rob Featherstone (center) instructs two students on the proper operation of an air conditioning unit.
ROYAL OAK, Mich. — Although the new secondary HVACR program does not officially get under way until fall of 2003, students at the Oakland Technical Center – Southeast Campus are already getting an education in the fundamentals of heating and air conditioning. The new program has been in development for the last year and a half, and large strides have been made, including a number of donations from several major manufacturers.

Rob Featherstone, the instructor for the upcoming course, has been busy teaching students electrical concepts, but since receiving a number of heating and air conditioning units for the new program, Featherstone decided to branch off and begin instructing students on some basic principles of HVAC, including installation.

According to Featherstone, some of the current students are showing a great deal of interest in the trade. One student in particular has said that he wants to take the EPA exam and start pursuing a career in HVACR.

Future Technicians

Featherstone’s students should be proud of the progress they have made so far. First, some of the donated equipment has been temporarily hooked up, and the students have started to learn how to wire the units and some basic principles of servicing.

But their real accomplishment came when teaming up with the construction trade department at the campus. While the construction students built a small house inside the school, Featherstone’s students helped to install the air conditioning and heating system, including all the ductwork and the thermostat wiring.

Featherstone said that a few students have expressed interest in learning more about HVAC after they graduate. One student in particular is looking into HVAC courses at Oakland Community College (OCC) in order to further his education.

Featherstone started setting up an articulation agreement with OCC for the students he will get next year. Students who are able to complete certain portions of the HVAC program at the Oakland Technical Center will receive college credits, which can be transferred over to OCC.

And there is a chance that Featherstone will have a good number of students to recruit for the HVAC program. According to Bonnie Crowson, dean for the Royal Oak campus, the morning and afternoon classes within the construction cluster are close to being filled up.

The students who enter the construction cluster will then spend a week within the separate portions of the construction trades, including electrical, building construction, and HVAC.

More Donations

So far the new program has all that it needs to make sure that students get the education and hands-on learning necessary to become successful in the HVAC trade. But a few more manufacturers have continued to donate equipment for Featherstone’s program.

Testo Inc. provided Featherstone with a wide variety of testing tools free of charge. Tools supplied include a CO monitor, test equipment case, manometer, pressure meter, velocity stick, gas detectors, infrared thermometers, and several other items.

ECR International, which provided a large donation several months ago, made another donation at the end of April. The manufacturer provided several different tonnages of horizontal, cased, and uncased coils. ECR International also provided a 2-1/2-ton condensing unit, a 4-ton condensing unit, and a 5-ton condensing unit.

Effical International, a company located in nearby Lake Orion, Mich., donated four barometric dampers and two motorized dampers for use in the classroom. Finally, Commercial/Industrial Heating Systems, located in nearby Madison Heights, Mich., came through with a 20-inch radiant tube heater with troubleshooting manuals.

Featherstone is hoping to obtain a couple of rooftop units and refrigeration units in order to give his students a more well-rounded HVAC education. But Featherstone said he is more than satisfied with the support he has received from the industry, and he is eagerly looking forward to the upcoming school year.

Publication date: 06/23/2003