NEWBERRY COUNTY — Piedmont Technical College (PTC) has introduced a new credential to its HVAC course offerings.
“Intro to HVAC” ― a “stackable certificate” ― is designed for people who already are working in the HVAC field and need the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification in order to transport refrigerants. It also provides a means for someone who has never worked in the HVAC field to receive some initial exposure and learn how to obtain an entry-level position in the industry.
“This course uses both classroom and shop training to cover the basic principles of HVAC, to explore how to use specialized tools and to provide an opportunity to obtain the EPA 608 certification,” said Bill Cockrell, PTC HVAC program director. “It can be completed in one semester and also may be applied towards a two-year degree.”
The program recently acquired new refrigeration and electrical simulators that were custom-built for PTC.
“The trainer units are installed in Greenwood and at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Laurens,” Cockrell said. “They allow students to control heating and AC systems from their desktop.”
The PTC HVAC Program has a near 100 percent placement rate for graduates. Jordy Cervantes, of Newberry, earned both an associate degree (2014) and HVAC Certificate (2018) from PTC. He immediately started a small business himself ― JC Mechanical ― and never looked back.
“I always wanted to be my own boss, and the HVAC industry intrigued me,” he said. “It’s a family business. My wife, Sierra, runs the books. She’s also a PTC graduate. My brother helps me out in the field. I hope to add some more employees as the business grows.”
Cervantes noted that there is a learning curve on the details of running a business, but his HVAC skills are unquestionably on point, he says, because of the excellent training he received at PTC.
“I think Bill (Cockrell) was a really good example of what people can achieve when they put the work into something,” Cervantes said. “The most important thing I learned from him is to be confident in yourself and don’t second-guess yourself so much.”
Zach Smith graduated from the program in the spring of 2019. Today he is a full-time HVAC technician at his alma mater.
“The HVAC Program fully prepared me for a job in the HVAC industry. Instructors Bill Cockrell and David Kibler spent so much time with the entire class teaching us about HVAC, all the way from refrigerators to commercial coolers,” Smith said. “The HVAC program here is a state-of-the-art program. The industry is steadily advancing, and I feel the program is definitely keeping up.”
When asked why he chose to work at PTC over other HVAC job opportunities, he said: “I had already built a relationship here with a lot of people. That made my decision to take on a job here a lot easier ― and I love the school.”
Cervantes is happy that his training at PTC led him to this juncture, owning a small HVAC business.
“The biggest advantage of being my own boss is the freedom,” he said. “You can’t have this freedom working for someone else.”
For more information about PTC’s HVAC Program, visit www.ptc.edu/hvac.