St. Louis/Southern Illinois ACCA Chapter Executive Director Glen Gobel (left) and NATE Director of Technical Development Pat Murphy were integral figures at the St. Louis ACCA Conference and Trade Expo.
ST. LOUIS — In keeping with the theme of the recent Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) National Meeting — “Out of the Comfort Zone & Into a More Profitable Future” — the St. Louis and Southern Illinois ACCA chapters hosted a special skills competition for HVACR students, demonstrating each chapter’s commitment to a profitable future with well-trained technicians.

Glen Gobel is the executive director of both chapters. “The ‘Show-Me Showdown’ is a competition which promotes our industry and encourages young people to follow an HVACR career path,” he said. “It also gives our contractors a chance to scout the best of the best.”

The competition involved 30 students from a radius of 200 miles outside the St. Louis area. Program directors from vo-tech schools in the area brought students to compete in an ICE written exam and hands-on workshops.

Pat Murphy, director of technical development for North American Technical Excellence (NATE), played the role of “crew chief” and graded the written exams on the spot. Some of the materials were donated by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

The hands-on skills were judged by a variety of field service reps from the combined ACCA chapters, who timed each student through a series of 10 different job stations, testing a variety of technical skills. The test equipment was donated by Lennox, Nordyne, Trane, and local Vatterott College.

“The competition puts a little pressure on the students to solve a problem on equipment they aren’t familiar with,” said Murphy. “It gives contractors a chance to see how they perform under pressure.”

Gobel said the competition has many benefits. “We can learn what the student has been learning and see if there are certain areas of training that need more improvement,” he said. “Contractors pay attention to these kids. They are willing to invest in these students if they see a good attitude and good potential.”

Gobel noted that the students get some good things out of the competition as well. “They get a greater sense of self-esteem and bragging rights when they go back to their classes.”

Publication date: 05/26/2003