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Race against the clock: The next generation of HVAC technicians

Dan O’Reilly
Race against the clock: The next generation of HVAC technicians
HRAI PHOTO - A competitor works to remove a furnace blower.

In a timed race against the clock, the next generation of HVAC and refrigeration contractors and technicians displayed their skills and knowledge of industry practices and procedures at the recent (CPMX) in Toronto.

A mix of post-secondary and secondary students were participating in the HVACR Skills Competition and Showcase, comprised of three different competitions over three days.

Working at different workstations, the students conducted a series of practical tasks and also participated in series of mock interviews conducted by industry members.

The competition’s objective was to assess the students’ understanding of HVACR systems, their ability to read and understand diagrams and manuals, their knowledge and use of health and safety regulations as well as gauging their problem solving abilities.

Two different HRAI () committees created, managed and organized the competition: the heating systems technical skills committee and the refrigeration/air conditioning technical skills committee.

Skills judge Brad Mavin clarifies a competition requirement for a competitor.
HRAI PHOTO – Skills judge Brad Mavin clarifies a competition requirement for a competitor.

The competition was divided into the three categories to reflect the industry’s different divisions and the students own interests and career goals, says HRAI’s acting co-ordinator for the heating systems and refrigeration competitions, Grace Diecidue.

Two cohorts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, participated in the post-secondary schools’ heating competition on the first day.

Day two was divided into a two-part, 6.5-hour-long post-secondary school refrigeration and air conditioning competition.

On the third day the focus was on heating systems and refrigeration/air-conditioning challenges and the students participating were from College Avenue Secondary School in Woodstock. To allow the students time to be bussed into Toronto, the competition was restricted to two hours, says Diecidue.

A number of changes were introduced this year. Instead each of student being evaluated by a single judge, as has been the practice in the past, the students’ skills test performance was measured by a group of judges.

“It was a more objective system.”

Gold, silver, and bronze winners were announced at the end of each competition. In all, 40 students took part in the three competitions, says Diecidue.

“It was a full house.”

Planning for the competition begins in September and includes a major outreach to colleges and high schools. There is no rigid criteria, but students who want to participate, “have to be taking studies that pertain to HVACR.”

The competition wouldn’t be possible without the support of HVACR companies who provided financial or-kind support and donated materials. Many industry members also worked as volunteers during the three-day event, says Diecidue.

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