Wichita Area Technical College

Challenge

With outdated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)  equipment in its training labs, WATC was challenged to recruit new students for its HVAC program, as well as provide the advanced training needed to prepare its graduates for the growing and changing demands of the industry. At the same time, the institute recognized the aging technical work force and the need for a curriculum that would incorporate the latest technologies. While WATC sought to upgrade the program with a new state-of-the-art teaching lab, school administrators knew that enhancing their program would require significant capital and a way to mitigate construction costs.

Solution

To help in its endeavor to improve the HVAC program, WATC called upon the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), a network of colleges and industry leaders that develops, implements and sustains industry-recognized certifications. The mission of the non-profit organization is to meet industry workforce needs by training the next generation of skilled workers for productive careers. Based on Trane industry leadership and track record of helping to improve student education through its collaboration with NC3 in theCareer and Technical Education/Workforce Training Program, WATC engaged the company as its strategic partner for the curriculum and technology upgrade.

Enhanced curriculum closes the skills gap
WATC administrators, faculty and staff, Trane, and local employers, along with NC3, formed a strong public-private partnership to bridge the gap between education and industry workforce needs. The team sought to enhance the college’s HVAC program by elevating training to the next level with an industry-relevant curriculum. Working hand-in-hand with WATC and Trane, NC3 supplied the substance to the WATC curriculum based on their history of developing, standardizing, and implementing stackable, industry-recognized certifications across the nation.

Hands-on learning with advanced technologies
Once the HVAC program’s new direction was established, Trane partnered with the college to provide project oversight and coordinate activities with subcontractors, as work began to  upgrade the training labs. To offer students the opportunity to gain experience with the latest technology, Trane and WATC worked together to select the lab equipment that would best fit their enhanced curriculum and prepare the workforce of tomorrow. Trane replaced the aging equipment with advanced, high-efficiency HVAC systems, including rooftop units, air
handling units, water source heat pumps, variable-air-volume units, variable frequency drives and Trane® Tracer™ SC building automation systems. The training pieces provided by Trane included both traditional wired equipment, as well as advanced wireless technologies, creating a technically advanced Climate and Energy Control Technologies Lab.

Providing training for the trainers
To provide WATC instructors with a working knowledge of the new technologies and better equip them to teach their students, Trane contributed to a weeklong NC3 Train-the-Trainer program. The training included all aspects of the HVAC, controls and building automation systems.

Results

WATC, Trane and NC3 are working in partnership to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow. The functional collaboration of this team achieved their common goal of enhancing career and technical training by developing a rigorous curriculum and renovating the college’s Climate and Energy Control Technologies Lab. The updated training lab features the newest Trane equipment and advanced technologies, ensuring that graduates possess the skills, training, and validation required by the industry. The lab is also aiding in the school's recruitment efforts, with administrators now managing a waiting list for the HVAC program, and providing the college’s faculty with equipment and resources that better match their teaching abilities. In addition, as a member of NC3, WATC now has access to a broader network of industry leaders and educators to assist the college in its endeavors to help students achieve their educational goals and provide programs to develop the region’s future workforce.

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