ARLINGTON, Va. - Seven technicians have been chosen from over 300 semifinalists to compete in the sixth annual North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Certified Technician Competition.

The Certified Technician Competition began in 2000 as a way to showcase the skills and knowledge of NATE-certified technicians. Doug Barnard, of Fresno, Calif.; Richard Blank of Toledo, Ohio; Randy Eichenlaub of McDermott, Ohio; Wilson Newhouse of Lebanon, Pa.; Kevin O'Neill of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Ron Swearingen of Grand Prairie, Texas; and William Yarus of Kalispell, Mont. will meet in a series of simulations to determine who will be the winner in 2005.

The seven finalists were chosen from all technicians who tested between June 1, 2004, and May 31, 2005. There were more than 21,000 tests administered in that time period. Each year the criteria for being a semifinalist and finalist have increased as technicians' grades have increased.

Technicians compete in the same events, and the order in which they compete at each testing station is randomized. The critical factor for each contestant is analyzing and determining remediation for a problem.

Each individual has 20 minutes to analyze, test, and suggest remediation. Only in the event of a tie does the speed with which a contestant solved the problem become a critical factor.

Although not the critical factor that correctness is, time can be important. In 2000, there was a three way-tie and the finalists' scores were separated by less than 15 seconds.

"Certification offers benefits to everyone, not just technicians," said Rex Boynton, president of NATE.

"Municipal licensing boards know that contractors employing NATE-certified technicians have invested in their employees' knowledge, consumers are assured that the technician knows heating and cooling, and manufacturers know that their product is being installed and serviced properly. These technicians' performances on the NATE exam place them in an elite category of technicians."

For more information on the contest and NATE certification, visit

Publication date: 08/01/2005