WINTERSBERG, Ariz. - The Refrigeration School Inc. (RSI) of Phoenix has announced a partnership with the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, for the purpose of providing apprenticeship training for HVAC apprentices at the power plant.

Utilizing the school's Occupational Associate Degree in Mechanical Maintenance Engineering, Paula Stapleton, nuclear training instructor at Palo Verde, said apprentices will be exposed to theory and hands-on training while in school, with additional training and skill verification taking place at the power plant. According to Stapleton, RSI is currently the preferred source of outside training for HVAC apprentices employed by the power producer.

"I liked the fact that the RSI programs were performance-based," said Stapleton. "Students are required to perform the tasks related to the theory they have learned."

Stapleton added that she was able to identify aspects of the school's training that now will be included in apprenticeship requirements, all designed to enhance the apprenticeship program. A technician herself, Stapleton was originally hired at Palo Verde as a journey level technician and worked in that capacity for several years. With her experience as a faculty member, the Universal Technical Institute graduate eventually transitioned to a training position.

For well over a decade, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has been the nation's largest power producer. According to Stapleton, quality and safety standards at the plant dictate a requirement for high-quality training and very exacting skill standards for all employees. This is largely accomplished through apprenticeship programs managed by plant trainers, she said.

Upon visiting Palo Verde, Elizabeth Cline, president and CEO of RSI, noted that the facility was "awe-inspiring." She commented that the size, scope, and complexity of systems were nearly beyond description.

"It was very eye opening to learn how committed every member of the plant is to safety and skill currency, and how environmentally friendly the entire operation is," said Cline.

She further observed that given the number of graduates already employed at Palo Verde, Cline is confident that the training offered by RSI will provide well for the apprenticeship needs.

RSI is a career college that offers certificate and degree programs, and whose primary focus is on training in HVACR and electrical disciplines. RSI provides training for several hundred graduates each year, and provides industry partners with entry-level technicians for all aspects of the trade. Armed with multiple certifications, with some graduates being qualified to pass North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, graduates find themselves highly sought after in the job market, noted Jon Cline, director of Training and Industry at RSI.

For more information, contact RSI at 602-275-7133.

Publication date: 03/06/2006