Michael Mutarelli (right) has been teaching for 15 years and is a 24-year veteran of the industry. The two-year program at LCCC is designed to prepare students for the diverse aspects of real-world HVACR challenges. Classroom work includes essays, reports, and role-playing exercises.
SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. - A technician is making $17 an hour with full benefits and is working in the field at a job he loves.

A manager in the service department of a major mechanical contractor is dealing with the day-to-day challenges and enjoying it.

A teacher is guiding students in the basics of HVACR and is deriving satisfaction.

Those are three diverse individuals in the industry, but all have something in common. At one time, they were students of Michael Mutarelli, who teaches at Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) in Schnecksville, Pa. Mutarelli received honorable mention honors in the 2004 Instructor of the Year contest sponsored by The News and ARI.

"Student success after they finish here is what I consider my biggest accomplishment as an instructor," he said.

Michael Mutarelli’s curriculum is 60 percent theory and 40 percent hands-on training.
He has been teaching for 15 years and is a 24-year veteran of the industry. The two-year program at LCCC leads to an associate's degree or certification. The program is designed, said Mutarelli, to prepare students for the diverse aspects of real-world HVACR. Classroom work includes more than theory and lab work. There are essays, reports, role-playing, and video taping "to study ways technicians portray themselves to customers."

Along the way there is a 150-hour paid internship with a local contractor that yields two credits. Students are also required to take the Industry Competency Exam (ICE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification test. They are also student members of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Upgrading facilities is constantly on Mutarelli's mind. The HVACR program recently relocated to a new tech center. There is a close relationship with a local HVAC consortium as well as an advisory committee. Recently, LCCC was awarded a grant to develop training to prepare individuals to take North American Technician Excellence (NATE) exams.

The LCCC HVACR program’s new tech center features six new electrical trainers for single- and three-phase wiring.
Sometimes teaching can take interesting twists. "In electrical courses, as part of the safety lessons, students check the resistance of a raw hot dog and compare it to their own resistance with wet skin," Mutarelli said. "They then insert two electrical probes in the hot dog and time how long it takes to ‘cook,' simulating what can happen to them.

"We then cook the dogs and have a little picnic at the end of the lab."

Mutarelli brings extensive training and experience to teaching. He holds a bachelor's degree in education from Temple University and has started work on a master's degree in business administration. He has a master plumber's certification from nearby Allentown. He is NATE certified, is a member of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, and has certifications from a number of factory training schools.

As one of his students noted, "He cares about his students and will try to help them succeed both personally and professionally. He teaches with a passion I have not observed in other teachers. This makes his classes interesting. When I look back at the two semesters he has taught me, I realize I've learned a lot about this trade."

Publication date: 11/08/2004