ROYAL OAK, Mich. — The finish line is within sight — or perhaps the starting line is a more appropriate metaphor. In any case, the HVACR program at the southeast Oakland Technical Center is scheduled to be up and running for the fall semester beginning in August 2003.

The goal for The News and Oakland Schools has been to launch the secondary HVACR program for the fall semester. Now the goal is close to becoming reality as plans for the lab and classroom have been drafted, and a construction date has been scheduled.

Rob Featherstone, the instructor for the new program, has received a number of donations for the lab from leading manufacturers. Featherstone has started mapping out where his equipment and classroom space will be. He has also started preparing the curriculum for the next semester, and he is fleshing out the details of his plan to give incoming students everything they’ll need to succeed.

Rob Featherstone, instructor for the Oakland Technical Center's HVACR program, looks over just a few of the donations that have come from manufacturers.

More Donations

Over the past few months, Featherstone has been fortunate to receive several large donations from manufacturers, including several condensing units, efficiency furnaces, boilers, and other equipment. Other individuals have donated technical books and manuals.

Recently, Rheem stepped up to provide the program with several pieces of equipment.

The company sent Featherstone one upflow oil-fired furnace, a high-efficiency heat pump, a 90-percent-efficient gas-fired furnace, and an 80-percent-efficient gas-fired furnace.

The latest equipment from Rheem, along with previous donations from Lennox, ECR International, and Trane, will go a long way in getting Featherstone started.

The program is well equipped with many of the larger units, but Featherstone still has a few other items he would like to cross off his wish list. The instructor said that he is eager to teach his students refrigeration, and would like to find some stainless steel freezers and refrigerators.

The program would also still like to find test equipment and other smaller tools to help enhance the hands-on portion of the program.

Classroom Construction

The push by Oakland Schools to begin construction on the HVACR program is one of the major reasons why the course will begin this fall. Students will be out on summer vacation starting June 13. As soon as the students are out of the building for vacation, construction will begin.

As reported in an earlier update, the original plans for the program allowed 2,300 square feet of space for its classroom and lab. The current construction plans will make way for even more room. One wall in the classroom will be knocked down, providing more space for the lecture portion of the classroom.

The school has reported that it will provide a computer lab with approximately 12 computers. This part of the lab will be set up right next to the regular classroom area. On the opposite side of the classroom and the computer lab will be the equipment lab. Rows of condensing units and heaters will be set up for the hands-on portion of the course.

Another interesting feature will be a glass wall. Next door to the HVACR program is the building technology course. Both of these courses are part of the school’s construction cluster. The current wall that separates the program will be replaced by a glass partition, allowing students from both courses within the construction cluster to see what others are doing and learning about.

Looking Ahead

Featherstone has already been busy teaching students basic electrical applications with some of the donated equipment, but he is eager to begin the fundamental HVACR instruction in the coming months. Part of Featherstone’s curriculum will be built around helping students to pass the Industry Competency Exam (ICE).

The instructor has also started setting up an articulation agreement with Oakland Community College (OCC). Under the proposed agreement, students who enroll and complete portions of Featherstone’s program would receive credits toward OCC’s HVACR degree program.

Publication date: 03/31/2003