WESTPORT, Conn. - The 2004 AHR Expo Innovation Awards were given in eight categories to the most innovative new products among the thousands on display during January's event in Anaheim, Calif. Proceeds from the entry fee of the second annual competition are being donated to the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology (RACT) program at San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC) in Bakersfield, Calif.

The $5,350 in scholarship money will benefit RACT students at SJVC as they further develop their skills and train to become certified service technicians.

"We see this as a win-win situation for everyone involved. The industry benefits from learning about product innovation, and an educational program is rewarded for teaching about innovations in products and technology to new generations of industry professionals," commented Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company (IEC), which produces and manages the AHR Expo.

The RACT curriculum and training focuses on diagnostic practices, customer relations, the science of heating and cooling principles, and basic theories of electricity. Students are taught how to operate, maintain, and repair residential and commercial equipment. In addition, the program emphasizes hands-on learning so students put their classroom knowledge into immediate practice.

Upon completion of the 14-month program, SJVC graduates are prepared for an entry-level technician position. Elwin Hunt, RACT program director at SJVC, noted, "Graduates of our program are in very high demand. Jobs are not only extremely available in California, but they are also steady and workable all year round."

Graduates of the RACT program earn an Associate of Science degree, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and HVAC Excellence certification, and must pass Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) competency testing.

The AHR Expo Innovation Awards Scholarship funds are presented to an HVACR vocational school in the region of each year's Expo.

Publication date: 02/23/2004