• HVAC Excellence Conference Returns in a Big Way

    April 14, 2022
    Would people return to live HVACR training? That's a yes.

    HVAC Excellence’s National HVACR Education Conference returned as a live event, March 21-23, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nev. The question, “Would people return to live, face-to-face training when the dust settled?”, was answered with a resounding YES, as the house was packed with nearly as many attendees as the last live conference in 2019.

    In speaking with conference attendees about why they attended, Bill Brown, owner of Brownson Technical School in Anaheim, CA, put it best: “While webinars are easier to attend, those in a hands-on industry such as HVACR need live, hands-on demonstrations that show us the technologies, and how to integrate them into our training programs.”

    Eugene Silberstein, lead author of Cengage Learning’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology title stated that “You simply can’t learn to become a phlebotomist from watching online videos, nor can you learn to braze refrigerant lines on YouTube. We must physically interact with the technologies.”

    Firsthand Knowledge

    Every day we read about new equipment, technologies, and codes. However, reading about something and hearing about it firsthand from the source are two different things. One key reason educators and trainers attend this event is to get information directly from the source. This conference allows attendees to get data, often before its published, learn from those on the front line of product, standard, and code development, understand the thinking that drives industry changes, and gain insight as to where our industry is headed. 

    Saying Goodbye to R-410A

    The wait is over, new equipment that runs with refrigerants other than R-410A is here! To help the industry transition, attendees learned firsthand about R-32, R-454B, N41(R-466a), and other Low GWP refrigerants with presentations by members of organizations involved in the AHRI Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force. Armed with a better understanding of Low GWP Refrigerants (A2L and A3), attendees learned about the equipment that operates with them during a full-day, R-32 ductless system installation program. 

    Lecture and Hands-On Training

    The conference offered over 70 lecture and hands-on classes, from industry leading manufacturers, associations, authors, and other subject matter experts. During these lively presentations, attendees learned about new technologies, codes, and teaching strategies, and how best to incorporate them into their programs. Equally important, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about hybrid learning strategies and digital resources available for plug-and-play into their training programs.

    Comfort Zone

    After a long period of teaching online and social distancing, it became increasingly difficult to cultivate new ideas. The conference provided a fresh new perspective on how attendees can reinvent the training they offer, consider and implement new ideas, get out of their comfort zone, break old ways of thinking, and discover new ways to approach their jobs.  

    Exhibits

    The exposition provided attendees the opportunity to see things they cannot find traversing the isles of a local supply house, or their website. They got their hands dirty with system components, witnessed hands-on product demonstrations, asked questions of those involved in the development of these products and interacted with many technologies not yet released on the market.

    Networking

    How often do you get to meet your hero or idol? With so many authors, and social media influencers in one place, the conference allowed attendees to meet the authors of their books, the voices of the podcasts they follow, while taking selfies with them, and discussing new ideas with colleagues and other conference participants. 

    Lessons from a COVID-19 World

    A common question posed by some younger instructors was, “What can we do to recruit more people into the HVACR industry?” However, some attendees quickly pointed out that the pandemic actually helped reshape the public’s perception of the HVACR industry and helped invigorate their recruitment initiatives. 

    The HVACR industry is a much larger and important sector than most perceive. The pandemic, while horrible, allowed us to bring to light the issues of airborne infection isolation rooms used to contain the spread of infectious diseases, data centers used to run online meetings and internet services, cold storage used for vaccine distribution, and refrigeration used to keep our food safe are all made possible by highly specialized HVACR service personnel.

    Continue Online

    While the in-person portion of the event has concluded, the training continues. Conference attendees will now be able to learn from online courses offered in April, May, June, and July. These sessions hosted on the HVACR Learning Network -- https://hvacr.elearn.network/ --  will enable attendees to watch classes on their schedule each month as new courses are released.

    Future Forward

    As the in-person portion of 2022 National HVACR Education Conference has concluded, preparation is underway for the next event, March 20-22, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The HVAC Excellence Conference provides an opportunity to learn about new and emerging technologies, get answers from, and be inspired by industry leaders, exchange ideas with industry peers, while gaining a better understanding of the future of the HVACR industry. Together, we can reshape the future of the industry, for the next generation of HVACR service technicians. People serious about being part of the solution can sign up at escogroup.org

    Howard Weiss is executive vice president, ESCO Group, Mt. Prospect, IL