Technology Huge for HVAC Program

Randy Corsbie, HVAC instructor, on Facetime with student, Colton Russell.

MUSCLE SHOALS - Northwest-Shoals Community College (NW-SCC) officially started the Power5 Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Apprenticeship Program in January.  Randy Corsbie, HVAC Instructor, had no idea what challenges were ahead for his program with the COVID-19 pandemic this spring.

Corsbie quickly adjusted delivery for related technical instruction. “Technology has made it easy for us to adapt quickly,” said Corsbie. “Our Power5 students have been able to continue their on-the-job training as I inspect their work live through FaceTime.”

The Power5 HVAC Apprenticeship Program prepares students for a career in HVAC by synchronizing related technical instruction at NW-SCC and on-the-job training at a sponsoring local business. Currently, the Power5 HVAC program has 14 sponsoring businesses with 23 student apprentices.

According to Corsbie, he began corresponding with his students through FaceTime as a way to check in with them. However, it quickly turned in to a personal lecture for each student. They in turn, posed different questions related to their job. “One of the best things that has resulted from this difficult situation is that several of my students are more engaged now,” said Corsbie. “Through FaceTime and the one-on-one lectures, some are asking questions that they would not ask in the classroom setting out of embarrassment.”

The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and the Alabama Office of Apprenticeships have identified the NW-SCC Power5 HVAC Apprenticeship Program as the first competency-based model for HVAC apprenticeship. Other apprenticeship programs in the state are time-based so that apprentices only advance once a certain amount of time passes. The competency-based model requires students to prove mastery of a set list of skills.  As students progress, their wage will increase. The competency list, wage progression, and apprenticeship standards can be used as a model for other colleges on the state and national level. The ACCS visited the Shoals campus in March to shoot an apprenticeship training video for community colleges across the state.

For more information on the NW-SCC Power5 HVAC Program, contact Alisyn Jackson at alisyn.jackson@nwscc.edu.