TORONTO - Visitors to this year's CMX show in Toronto experienced a new and interesting sight: a group of enthusiastic high school and college students testing their technical skills under the watchful eyes of industry veterans. The students were taking part in the third annual Skills Canada-Ontario Heating Systems Technician Competition.

Normally, the competition is held alongside a range of other skilled trades competitions in a province-wide event held in May. For the past several years the event has been held in Waterloo, Ontario. This year, with Skills Canada's permission, the event was moved to the CMX show, so that the industry could get an up-close view of the proceedings.

Ten high school students participated in the "Secondary School Skills Challenge for Heating Systems Technician." This event was designed to encourage growth in and expand the knowledge of the skills in the heating system technician (primarily the gas technician) work role among high school students.

The challenge provided students with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and job knowledge in equipment operation, troubleshooting, service, maintenance, and the repair of gas (and other fuels) heating equipment. The event allowed participants to showcase their proficiency in three areas: 1) practical skills (service and maintenance); 2) theoretical skills (troubleshooting, service, and maintenance); and 3) interview skills (students were required to go through a mock job interview).

Three high schools were represented at this year's event: Bramalea Secondary School, Elmira District Secondary School, and Sherwood Secondary School. The participants were Jose Coreas, Shawn Dunn, Wade Goodwin, Craig Kuchma, Milton Murray, Steve Saunders, Chad Vincent, Kyle Wilson, Kendall Woeschka, and Mike Xao. This year's challenge winner was Steve Saunders of Bramalea Secondary School. In recognition of his achievement, Saunders was awarded a digital camera.

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors of Canada (HRAC) congratulated and thanked all of the participants and their teachers, who "inspired these students to take such an interest in the HVACR industry": Randy Dyck, Elmira District Secondary School; Tom Vovk, Bramalea Secondary School; and Paul Woods, Sherwood Secondary School. HRAC also thanked the sponsors of this event, including Climate Care Co-operative, Union Gas, and Enbridge Gas Distribution.

Skills Canada-Ontario also ran the "Post-Secondary Technological Skills Competition." Sponsored by Lennox Inc., this more advanced competition was limited to students currently enrolled in a post-secondary program and individuals with one to five years of industry experience. Contestants provide proof of a valid Gas Technician 3 Certificate (G3) and one year of G3 related work experience or provide proof of a valid Gas Technician 2 Certificate.

The competition included various elements to test technician skills, including: a system connection and combustion check; a service and maintenance test; an electrical and mechanical troubleshooting module; testing of electrical circuits (using a computer program); and a simulated job interview.

This year's participants were: Gold Medal winner John Watson, Algonquin College; Silver Medal winner Jeff Graham, Conestoga College; and Bronze Medal winners Ryan Cureston, Algonquin College, Ian Fleming, Great Lakes Training Centre, Mark Kuchma, Conestoga College, and Andrew Rousseau, Great Lakes Training Centre.

HRAC thanked the HRAC National Capital Region Chapter for covering the transportation costs incurred by the participants from Algonquin College.

Finally, HRAC thanked its team of volunteers: committee chairs Barry Bowman (Barry Bowman Mechanical) and John Menzies (Centre of Success Inc.); and competition judges Bob and Nancy McKeraghan (Canco ClimateCare), Jim Dunstan, Ed Fitzgerald, and Guy Howell (Union Gas), Cathy Hanlon (Enbridge), Tim Inch (Service Experts), and Brad Mavin (Conestogo Mechanical).

Publication date: 05/03/2004