"It's not antiseptic," laughed Gregory Goater, HVAC instructor at Isaac University. "A lot of my success is showmanship: Keeping people involved, telling stories, and relating instruction to real life."

Goater's hard work, dedication, and showmanship are why he has earned an Honorable Mention in the Best Instructor contest sponsored by The NEWS and ARI.

The former Navy man has been in the HVAC industry for 27 years and has spent 22 of them teaching. He began his career part time, teaching electrical apprenticeship classes while working at Honeywell. In January 1992, Goater began teaching adult education technical classes full time. Six years later, he started working with high school students teaching plumbing, electricity, and HVAC. In the fall of 2002, Goater became a full-time instructor at Isaac University.

Gregory Goater’s (right) classes are 60 percent lecture and theory-based and 40 percent hands-on labs.

Isaac University

The program at Isaac University is 404 hours. Upon completion, students receive certification from North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the Industry Competency Exam (ICE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rheem Contour, and TracPipe.

Goater's average student is between 23 and 27 years old. They usually come to him with no experience. Once hired by Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, students are automatically enrolled in the private college dealing with residential and light commercial heating and air conditioning. "I have the best of all worlds here," said Goater. "I work with the cream of the crop."

Everyday he works with students from 7 to 9 a.m. Classes are 60 percent lecture and theory-based and 40 percent hands-on labs. Developed over the past three years, the current program is accredited by Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). It not only incorporates industry standards, but also the specific training needs of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning.

Goater's favorite module is the introduction to air conditioning course. According to Goater, most don't know air conditioning and refrigeration or they have learned it wrong. "I get a real charge out of them learning how refrigeration works," said Goater.

Along with his teaching duties, Goater is involved in many other activities. As part of the management team at Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, he is the go-to guy, especially for electrical questions. "I have the codebooks, I get the questions," said Goater.

NATE currently certifies him for all install and service programs being offered. He holds EPA Universal Certification and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 10- and 30-hour trainer certificate. Goater is a member and the current vice president of proprietary schools of the Council of Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Educators (CARE).

He is also the subcommittee chair for contractor accreditation for the Air-Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Just recently, Goater has been asked to join the NATE technical committee to participate in the review of questions for the NATE test.

Even with all these activities and challenges, "My biggest challenge is not letting anyone fall through the cracks," said Goater. "I try not to leave anyone behind."

This day and age, there doesn't seem to be much appreciation for the trades, according to Goater. Across the country high school technical program budgets are suffering. Goater said that the local community college is suffering much the same fate. "My hat is off to those who have to work with just everybody and anybody without many resources. I have met so many different teachers with tougher teaching situations than I have."

Eric Knaak, vice president of service at Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning said, "Greg is teaching people with no HVAC experience how to work safely and efficiently. He is helping create employment and advancement opportunities for those who have the desire.

Quick Stats

Contest Placement:Honorable Mention

Instructor: Gregory Goater

College Or School: Isaac University

Location: Rochester, N.Y.

Years Teaching: 22

Publication date: 11/14/2005