Allen Smith, Jr., Department Chair of the HVAC/R program at the College of Lake County developed a flexible 18 credit HVAC Installation Technician Certificate. The program known as “Fast Track” debuted in January, 2015.
This program allows students to complete 6 courses over 18 weeks. The program includes both online and hands on components demonstrated in the HVAC lab at the College of Lake County. The program includes Basic Refrigeration Systems, HVAC/R Electricity, HVAC/R Blueprint Reading, Heating I, Residential Appliances, Air Conditioning III, Installation and Service and Sheet Metal Fabrication. Upon successful completion, students received their certification that prepares them for entry level HVAC/R technician positions. The pilot cohort has already seen great success. College of Lake County student Scott Belford has benefited greatly both from the 18 week program and as a student of Smith. “I honestly don’t know what I would have done without that program being all that it is”, says Belford. With a sudden career change, Belford completed the program and is now working in the field.
Allen Smith, Jr. has been a wonderful instructor and mentor to these students. He wants to see them complete their certificate having full understanding of the course material. Belford noted that he would not have completed the certificate without the help and excellent instruction of Mr. Smith. Likewise, student Calvin Macintosh found his calling after speaking with Allen and has been in the program as well as a student worker for the HVAC department. Calvin began the HVAC/R club under the advisement of Mr. Smith and successfully organized a career day in which several companies and people within the career field came and spoke to the students about the industry.
According to an article written in the Chicago tribune regarding the program, “The job outlook for HVAC/R mechanics and installers for the 2012 to 2022 period shows a faster than average growth (21 percent), accounting to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” A career in this green industry showed an average pay in 2012 at $43,640 per year averaging ($20.98 per hour).
Support for the program was provided by the IGEN Career Pathways grant from the U.S. Labor Department.