Time to pick their professors’ brains. This month, Blake, Brenan and Michael took some time to chat with their favorite HVAC educators about what it takes to make it in the HVAC world – starting with the decision to go to school, the journey through school, and entry into an HVAC career path.
Blake Hodge: Making it in the HVAC Field
As with all career paths, students put a lot of time and thought into figuring out what they believe is best for them. Some people may know from the beginning what they want to do, and others may explore a few different options. One thing that you will find in any career path is that there are difficulties and obstacles to overcome. For this mission I decided to ask one of my professors, Dr. Feutz, a few questions regarding the choice to attend school and the difficulties involved.
For myself, my junior year of high school is when I decided that HVAC was the career path that I wanted to pursue. A lot of research followed, and I eventually concluded that attending Ferris State University was the best option for me. Upon asking Dr. Feutz why he believed the decision to attend school was important, he stated that because HVAC is already a specific industry, it is crucial to attend school in order to stay a step ahead of others. He also offered an interesting statistic that only twenty-seven percent of people end up working at a job related to their major.
Common struggles that I deal with while attending school include staying on time, staying focused, and putting forth my best effort. While it is necessary for every student to enjoy their time at school, it is much more important to stay focused on their work and future goals rather than having too much fun. The one thing Dr. Feutz believes is the most common struggle of students is the lack of focus and engagement. He relates these struggles to the lack of full brain development, being that the typical HVAC student is a male under the age of twenty-five years old. He says as faculty that they can see full student potential is not yet being achieved, and even relates this to his own schooling in the past.
As far as tips and advice go, because I am young and still in school, I do not have a lot to offer. The things I would go back and tell myself three years ago would include staying on time and staying organized. Advice Dr. Feutz offers to students include making college a priority, focusing on the real-world design of HVAC courses, and just doing the best you can. He says that a common misconception he sees is that some students believe they are not good enough for college because they did not do all that well in high school. He relates this misconception to a book written in 1983 by Howard Gardner. This book discusses that there are multiple intelligences within the human brain, and students who are believed to be the smartest are good at two or more intelligences. Dr. Feutz says that usually he sees students in the HVAC field who are very good at working with their hands but may lack in other areas such as math or writing. He encourages students to take gen eds seriously and get the most out of them as possible.
Brenan Vogt: Pro Tips
After discussion with my Professor, I learned that he also went to school at DMACC and went through the same program that I did. After starting at a small company that only paid $8.50, he quickly advanced to a job with more potential where he could grow more in the company. After several years of working through the company, they closed their doors because the owner passed away, and the business was sold. Dave bought several things from the company at an auction including his work van, and started his own company that is very successful. He says that some of the common struggles that he sees students dealing with is when it comes time for the students to work in the lab with hands on experience. He says that often times students can do very good on tests, but hen it comes to actually preforming the work, some students struggle. Being successful comes with years of experience he says, but stick with it and you’ll pick up on new things every day and become very successful.
Michael Clemons: The Student is the Determining Factor
For this mission I decided to talk to my second-year teacher to find out his thought on these questions. To answer the question of why to choose an HVAC-R school he stated, “you receive technical training in order to apply your mechanical skills, you will receive instruction in writing, communications, mathematics, and human relations in business.”
Going through the program I believe this is the perfect way to pitch it. Being out in the field I see a lot of good techs sometimes struggle to speak to customers that don’t understand all the technical parts that we have come to know. Being able to simplify it to the person you’re talking to helps a lot and shows the customer you know your stuff. He went on to explain that he often sees students focus more on work than on finishing school and getting the most out of it while your there.
Some of the tips he gave us were to focus on finishing strong, you will have the rest of your life to work. Getting the most out of your education now will help to set you up for success. He said one line that really stuck with me it was “you can get a great education from an inexpensive school or a poor one from an expensive school.”
“The determining factor is the student.”