If HVAC contractors don't speak the information technology (IT) language, it can be costing your company money. With a growing number of commercial buildings moving toward Web-based control products, HVAC people need to understand IT and be able to communicate with IT professionals, according to Chip Cummins of Stromquist & Company in Atlanta, Ga.

As an outside sales engineer, Cummins said he realized the need for himself and contractors to have training in information technology when he saw the growing trend toward Web-based building control products. While working on his networking degree in IT, Cummins said he discovered that although all of what he was learning was valuable, not all of it applied to what he encountered on a daily basis. He wanted to find a way to get the necessary training to contractors without their having to complete two years of coursework. So he met with one of his instructors, Denver Martin, and they designed a five-day training class for HVAC contractors.

The inaugural Networking Windows training class was sponsored by and held at Stromquist & Company during the summer of 2003 and taught by Martin. The goal of the course was to teach HVAC professionals to understand network design and implementations; add Ethernet devices to existing networks; plan a network; support the Windows 2000 Server Network Operating System; set up, configure, use, and support Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) on Windows 2000; install and configure a WINS server, and maintain security.

According to Martin, one of his main goals in teaching the class "was to take the mystery out of IT and give the students a basic knowledge of IT concepts and the tools to communicate." He wanted to "create a partnership between the HVAC and IT professionals and take away the 'us versus them' school of thought."

The class got good reviews from its attendees. "I have learned a lot of the terminology dealing with networking systems, learned basics of the Windows 2000 operating system, and have gotten familiar with the protocols that establish the system," said Wesley Fowler of Hamlin Air Conditioning.

Because of the success of the first class, Stromquist planned additional classes.

Publication date: 11/24/2003