PENDLETON — Tri-County Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Advisory Committee was recognized for its achievements this year at the College’s fall convocation.
Committee members and Program Director Justin Herndon accepted the Advisory Committee of the Year award for 2017.
Herndon said the advisory committee has been instrumental in advancing the program through its involvement in and support of a cooperative work experience for all students in the HVAC program.
“Over the past two years, the advisory committee has been committed to new initiatives that give the students more real-world work experience to prepare them for the industry,” said Herndon.
For the past two summers, the College has partnered with local HVAC companies to offer work/based learning opportunities designed to give students real-world experience while supplying companies with the additional manpower needed during their busiest season.
HVAC students work during the day for local companies and attend evening classes at the Pendleton Campus. These are paid co-ops and students get college credit as a technical elective toward their degree.
“We are combining classroom and laboratory experiences with working alongside a company mentor on installations, preparatory maintenance, ductwork, and diagnostics, as well as interacting with customers and supervisors. Students are helping companies during their high volume times while getting exposure to the different parts of the job, including customer service,” said Herndon.
“Instructors can tell when they come to classes at night that they are applying knowledge learned during the previous two semesters. We hear back from the employers about how beneficial the students were to them during the summer, and it has led to some getting full-time employment. Without the support of the advisory committee, who created these opportunities and pipelines of employment, the co-op program would not have gotten off the ground,” said Herndon.
The HVAC advisory committee also is committed to supporting service learning projects, which include servicing HVAC systems for individuals and organizations in the community.
The College purchased a 14-passenger minibus last summer to help support the service-learning projects the HVAC program completes. “This has given us the freedom to take on projects without worrying about transportation issues. We have used the bus to take students to different job sites because of a partnership with Rebuild Upstate. It also has allowed the program’s students to attend functions at local HVAC distributor stores to meet and network with companies and others within the HVAC industry,” said Herndon.
Conversations at advisory committee meetings are centered on building stackable certificates for the program. This enables students to obtain industry-recognized certifications and credentials that would lead directly to employment. Stackable credentials is a national model that offers laddered pathways toward an associate degree. Courses are sequenced so certificates build on one another. They are matched with individually-recognized certifications.
“With the committee’s input, we were able to break the two-year curriculum down into two different significant certificates that would be valuable to them as hiring managers,” said Herndon.