Gateway Technical College collaborates with communities in Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties in Wisconsin to ensure economic growth and viability by providing education, training, leadership, and technological resources to meet the changing needs of students, employers, and communities. The college offers instructional programs from its campuses, and through online courses, to approximately 29,000 students annually.
Like many technical education schools, the HVAC equipment in the training labs at Gateway Technical College was outdated, with many of the pieces more than twenty years old, often donated by area residents after upgrading their homes or businesses. At the same time, the college recognized their infrastructure was aging, with mechanical systems nearing the end of their useful life. In keeping with its mission, the college wished to advance its commitment to sustainability by utilizing energy-efficient systems, while preparing students to become valued workers in the community.
Gateway Technical College and Trane joined forces to replace aging equipment with new, operationally reliable energy-efficient systems and collaborate on their common goal of advancing career and technical training by establishing advanced HVAC classrooms and working labs, otherwise known as a Center of Excellence (CoE), to improve desired outcomes for their graduates.
Closing the skills gap
To bridge the gap between education and industry workforce needs, Gateway and Trane worked hand-in-hand to enhance the college’s career and technical training within the HVAC program by elevating training to the level required by industry. Working together, along with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), a strong public-private partnership was formed in order to develop, implement and sustain industry-recognized portable certifications.
To enable Gateway students to excel in the HVAC industry, the HVAC program was enhanced by adding instruction in building automation controls, commercial refrigeration and commercial HVAC systems, which were not previously part of the college’s offering. “The more we can align the academic content of a program with industry recognized credentials and industry validation, the closer our students will be to becoming successful in competing for jobs,” said Dr. Bryan Albrecht, president, Gateway Technical College.
Updating the technology
Once the HVAC program’s new direction was established, work began to update the college’s training labs in order to complete the transformation. Gateway Technical College administrators knew equipment from even ten years ago is dramatically different than equipment of today, and that when its students entered the workforce, they would be on the front lines of an industry that continually updates its technology to meet emerging challenges. It was important to the college to offer its students the opportunity to gain experience with the latest technology.
Trane and Gateway worked together to determine which lab equipment would best prepare the workforce of tomorrow. Trane provided the college with advanced, high-efficiency HVAC systems, including rooftop units and commercial chillers, along with Trane Tracer Summit® building automation systems. The training pieces included both traditional wired equipment, as well as advanced wireless technologies, creating a technically advanced HVAC Center of Excellence.
Supporting workforce development
Trane is serving as an exclusive industry sponsor and advisor of the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), a network of education providers and corporations that validate new and emerging technology skills to advance workforce development. Gateway is a founding member of NC3 and is nationally recognized for their exemplary work developing advanced technology centers on their campuses.
“We recognize the need for a technically strong work force and support progressive educational institutions like Gateway that focus on providing the skills and certification programs needed to prepare the next workforce generation,” said Greg Josefchuk, strategic programs leader for Trane. “We are very excited to collaborate with Gateway, NC3 and other career and technical education organizations across the country.”
Gateway Technical College and Trane are working in partnership to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow. A rigorous program, combined with updated training labs featuring the newest equipment and advanced technologies, are ensuring that graduates possess the skills, training and validation required by the industry. “Trane has shown us technologies, installations and product manufacturing that we have never seen before,” said Larry Hobbs, HVAC instructor, Gateway Technical College. “They have broadened our horizons, and it has been a wonderful experience for us.” “As we work with Trane, we will not only grow the way we develop student programs, but we will also become a much more efficient and energy conscious college,” said Albrecht.
About Gateway Technical College
Gateway Technical College students enjoy a hands-on learning experience with new equipment and the latest technologies. Gateway’s commercial HVAC classroom and lab was updated with new equipment and technology to align with the established curriculum.