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College Dean Joins Certification Effort for Technicians

Tom GregoryThe dean of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s School of Construction and Design Technologies has been named to a national organization committed to maintaining the quality of technicians in the heating-ventilation-air conditioning/refrigeration industry.

Tom Gregory recently returned from his first meeting as an education appointee to the board of trustees of North American Technician Excellence Inc., a nonprofit organization involved in reviewing certification criteria for HVAC/R technicians. He joined a diverse coalition at the Washington, D.C., session, including contractors, manufacturers, government agencies, and trade associations such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

According to information presented at the Sept. 22-23 meeting, a crisis of qualified technicians is affecting the HVAC industry and the entire construction field. That national shortage is worsened by a 5-percent annual attrition rate, often leaving consumers to settle for less-than-acceptable service. Similar to the Automotive Service Excellence program that provides credentials for vehicle-repair personnel, Gregory explained, NATE “raises the bar. . .to ensure the quality of the work we do.

“People want qualified technicians to come in and work on their equipment. When you’re paying $70 to $100 an hour, you want to be able to trust them,” he said. “NATE certification is not an advertising slogan by a local contractor it’s a national standard.”

In order to be certified, technicians must pass both a core examination and at least one specialty test of their choosing. And while providing comfort and assurance to the consumer, Gregory said, certification also is a benefit to those employees in the field.

“It’s a credential they can carry with them,” and, when combined with a degree from an established and well-regarded HVAC curriculum such as Penn College’s, “makes them more employable. The more choices they have, the better.” In addition, certified technicians generally do the job right the first time, he said, resulting in fewer unprofitable callbacks to repair unsatisfactory work.

Gregory isn’t NATE’s only link to Penn College. Patrick Murphy, the organization’s director of technical development, is a member of the College’s HVAC Technology Advisory Committee; Dale E. Kissinger Jr., an instructor of HVAC technology, plumbing and heating, is NATE-certified; and the College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education office is an approved testing site for technicians.

For more information about the HVAC programs at Penn College, call the School of Construction and Design Technologies at (570) 327-4518, send e-mail or visit online.

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