CHICAGO - There will be yet another technician certification program.

At a noon press conference, held the first day of the AHR Expo, Jerry Weiss (pictured), executive director of HVAC Excellence, announced the formation of a new standard for technician certification, the "Master Specialist."

To qualify for the title of Master Specialist, a technician must have a minimum of three years field experience and achieve a passing score on the related written professional level HVAC Excellence technician certification. What separates this program from the rest, said Weiss, is the fact the technician also has to pass a hands-on performance test.

"Passing a written exam tells us that the test takers possess knowledge of the subject, but not whether they can apply that knowledge," said Weiss. "New drivers take a written exam where they demonstrate they have memorized the shape and color signs, and the rules of the road. However, they are still required to pass a driving test, as passing the written exam alone does not mean they can drive. Similarly, knowing which solder to use does not mean that you can solder tubing, pressurize that tubing, and have it leak free."

The hands-on performance testing is still being ironed out, as HVAC Excellence needs test administrators with proper field and teaching experience, and facilities that possess the necessary working equipment. It is currently partnering with several educational facilities that meet specific criteria.

The first group of educators will be trained as Master Specialist test administrators during the American Technical Educators Association (ATEA) conference, to be held in March in Louisville, Ky. HVAC Excellence will be conducting the Master Specialist performance exams during the second quarter of this year as a pilot program.

Results of the pilot program will be analyzed and evaluated. The program will then be adjusted, said Weiss. In the end, it is HVAC Excellence's hope to make the general release of the Master Specialist program during the third or fourth quarter of this year.