11 HVAC students pass certificationAug 24, 2021
Eleven HVAC students at Rockingham Community College passed the Universal level of the EPA Certification Exam on their first try – and now all have jobs.
The newly certified students are Heath Carter, David Dickens, Robert Dove, William Farlow, Zackery Glaeser, Luke Hazelwood, Timothy Jacobs, Brison Knowles, Zachery Meade, Christian Meeks, and Lawrence Wray.
Hazelwood and Knowles both enrolled in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) at RCC through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. Entering the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Basics Pathway, they earned college credits while they were students at Reidsville High School. This pathway teaches entry-level skills in residential light commercial HVAC, and in domestic refrigeration. Students learn to braze, test for leaks, recover refrigerant, charge a unit, use meters, and read wiring diagrams. Upon successful completion, students earned their certificates, and the credits are applied toward a diploma in Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology.
Dickens enrolled as a student at Rockingham Early College High School. All three started the program at RCC in Fall 2020, graduated from high school in Spring 2021, and are continuing at RCC with plans to earn their diplomas in Spring 2022.
The trio came into the program in the middle of COVID-19 restrictions. It may have made things easier for them, as high school classes were on Zoom, and only the HVAC classes at RCC were in person.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers four certification types. Type I enables a technician to only work on small appliances with 5 pounds or less of refrigerant, such as refrigerators. Type II enables them to only work on medium-, high-, and very-high pressure appliances like air conditioning units. Level III is for those who only work on low-pressure appliances. And earning a Universal Certification – like the 11 RCC students – means the technician possesses all three certificates.
“This certification means we can get refrigerant,” said Hazelwood, with Knowles finishing the thought with, “It means we can work with Freon safely and legally.”
With a laugh, Hazelwood said he decided he wanted go into HVAC “when I saw the dudes with nice trucks.”
But seriously, he said a man down the road from his house had a business, and Hazelwood enjoyed helping him.
Knowles had a similar story. “I’ve always wanted to do it. People were doing it down the road, and I worked with them.”
For Dickens, “I was doing work on my house, and realized (the career) pays good, and I got into it.”
The three students like attending RCC.
“I like that the counselor works with you,” said Knowles.
Hazelwood’s favorite part about RCC is the learning environment. When Dickens said he really liked the teachers – especially Mike Bryant – the other two were quick to agree. “You have a good time in this course, but you learn a lot,” said Hazelwood.