Two current Ranken Technical College students work on HVACR training equipment in the newly renovated facility, which now contains 230 individual pieces of equipment for student training, including commercial and residential air conditioning units, refrigerators, ice machines, and heating units.
ST. LOUIS - Ranken Technical College celebrated the grand opening of its new Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) Technology Department recently. The entire facility underwent extensive renovations in the last year.

The renovated department contains 230 individual pieces of equipment for student training including commercial and residential air conditioning units, refrigerators, furnaces, heat pumps, and more. It also features a climate-controlled training and testing area, in which students can be trained and evaluated in the conditions under which they will one day be working.

The new, open layout was designed to be conducive to instructing a large class, with each student working on his/her own equipment. The areas separating commercial and residential training are now more clearly defined, too.

Chris Brueggeman (left), head of the HVACR department at Ranken Technical College, shows a potential student and his father equipment in the renovated facility.
One of the biggest changes to the space was the uncovering of the large windows in the 97-year-old building, which had been sealed and insulated in the late 1960s to save on heating costs. The improvements made to the HVACR department were part of a $2 million renovation at the nonprofit college, which also included the addition of a student center and snack bar area and the remodeling of previously unused classrooms in order to provide space for Ranken's rapid growth.

The renovation was supported not only by cash donations from companies like Emerson, but also by equipment donations from various manufacturers, including Nordyne, Carrier, Lennox, Manitowoc Ice, and Emerson Flow Controls.

In the eyes of Chris Brueggeman, head of the HVACR department at Ranken, support from the industry is vital to the program, not only for training equipment, but also for guidance on the college's curriculum. This guidance is provided by the program's advisory board, which is comprised of local contractors and other HVACR-related companies.

A current Ranken Technical College student works on equipment. At the recent open house, several students did demonstrations of the new equipment available for student training.
"Involvement with the college by participating in our advisory board or donating equipment is a great exchange for these companies and our students," said Brueggeman.

"These companies can ensure that students are trained on the latest equipment, and the students benefit by graduating with exactly those skills that are required by the job market."

Overall, he said the support from local industry has been exactly that: very supportive.

"We have all the residential training equipment we need," said Brueggeman. "Now we're just looking for some commercial air handlers and other high-end commercial equipment."

According to Brueggeman, 98 percent of Ranken students have jobs in their respective field within six months of graduation - "and there's a steady increase in demand for the state-of-the-art courses we offer here."

Ranken’s new climate-controlled HVACR training area is a place where students are able to operate on equipment in real life weather conditions.
"That is why we've invested so heavily in renovating and expanding this program," said Brueggeman. "We wanted to increase our course capacity in order to give more students the level of hands-on experience for which Ranken is famous."

Ranken administrators and staff - including current and prospective students, industry representatives, and alumni - attended this celebratory event, held in the new facility. Many expressed amazement at the changes in the technical labs. The event featured tours of the new space and demonstrations of the equipment available for student training.

Ranken has served the St. Louis region since 1907 by providing skilled labor through hands-on, state-of-the-art training in a variety of technical disciplines. The school is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Publication date: 03/20/2006