Job growth for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians is estimated to grow 34 percent nationwide between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gateway Technical College’s new Energy Systems Training Labs are designed to address that need.
The college recently celebrated the opening of the labs and highlighted its partnerships with industry businesses at its Kenosha, Wis., campus. A special ceremony was held to honor Trane, a global provider of indoor comfort systems and solutions and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. Trane played a key role in the development of the labs and the curriculum taught at the college.
The six labs bring cutting-edge training technology to equip Gateway graduates with the skills needed to enter an expanding job market for well-versed technicians.
Trane and Gateway closely collaborated to enhance the college’s HVAC career and technical education program to help close the skills gap to meet industry-required skills levels. The labs feature innovative and advanced HVAC technology solutions manufactured by Trane. Trane also worked with Gateway in updating the HVAC systems serving the campus, creating a living laboratory for HVAC students.
The Energy System lab design was also supported by the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), of which Gateway and Trane are members. NC3 was established to address the need for strong industry partnerships with educational institutions to develop, implement, and sustain industry-recognized portable certifications with strong validation and assessment standards. Graduates of Gateway’s program will also achieve appropriate energy industry certification through NC3.
The labs include equipment in residential and commercial/industrial heating and cooling, building automation, refrigeration, renewable energy systems and geoexchange technology. Other business partners have collaborated with Gateway to provide additional leading edge technology training equipment.
Program graduates who’ve trained in the labs have the ability to run HVAC systems to make buildings and equipment operate more efficiently using the latest technology. They are also prepared for specific green collar careers in wind and solar.
“This is significant for the college,” says Gateway President Bryan Albrecht. “We see employers in these job markets calling for technicians with skills that go beyond HVAC. Employers are looking for skills in operating those systems in a sustainable manner. In addition to the new and emerging careers in wind and solar energy systems, others exist which have been re-evaluated or recreated because of the need for technicians with technology skills, or the ability to run systems sustainably.”
Gateway strongly believes in training workers to successfully enter the next generation of energy conservation efforts. The college embeds sustainability into its energy systems curriculum. Whether training graduates to recommend a sustainable energy system, installation or operation, they teach the various technologies that would allow the systems to conserve energy.