MORTON GROVE, Ill. - The Little Red Schoolhouse is 50 years old this year. As part of the celebration, there was a party for many of those who have been a part of the school during the last half century.

The event included founding faculty and students from years past who are now part of the HVACR industry, educators from other institutions of learning, and industry officials.

The fact that the Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS) is a facility with hands-on training was emphasized during anniversary ceremonies. "Our feeling is that you can't replace an old-fashioned schoolhouse," said Karl Buscher, marketing manager for Bell & Gossett (B&G), which operates LRS. "It is a schoolhouse. It isn't glamorous. But it continues the purpose of educating our industry."

Since its establishment in 1954, LRS has trained more than 50,000 students at its location in Morton Grove, on the grounds of B&G's headquarters. Officials said another 125,000 have been trained worldwide through a traveling classroom program.

From Blackboards To Computers

Although the technology of training has changed from blackboards to computers and electronic projections, the educational principles have remained consistent, said Roy Ahlgren, B&G's director of Training and Education. "Students come to learn about proper installation, maintenance, and design techniques," he said. "They don't come to hear a sales pitch."

At this time, seven three-day courses cover topics ranging from hydronic basics to design of large chilled-water systems.

Attendees include industry trade groups, consulting engineers, wholesalers, contractors, and end users. They are sponsored by ITT Fluid Handling representatives.

"Many of the graduates continue to use the materials and manuals they received in class many years ago, to train others in their organizations," Ahlgren said. "We estimate that our graduates have used our material to formally or informally train over a million HVACR professionals."

In addition to teaching, several industry innovations originated at the schoolhouse, officials said. For instance, instructor Gil Carlson invented several hydronic products and system design concepts that are widely used today.

Among Carlson's and other B&G innovations are the SystemSyzer® calculator, development of the primary-secondary pumping concept, and identification of the "point of no pressure change" in a closed-loop system.

Publication date: 10/11/2004