HVAC grand opening celebrates a new career education pathwayby Jan Janes on Sep 5, 2019
The community turned out for the grand opening of the Gavilan College HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) Center in late August, equipped with personal fans and ready to tell their stories. Current students praised the faculty and curriculum, and curious students were ready to sign up.
Career Education Dean Sherrean Carr and Gavilan Superintendent/President
Dr. Kathleen Rose (center) cut the ribbon, joined by students, community
representatives and elected officials.
The HVAC Center was a vision three years in the making.
Gavilan College Career Education dean Sherrean Carr, along with Superintendent/President Dr. Kathleen Rose, attended a conference in 2016, listened to a sector navigator discuss the viability of HVAC trade jobs with mid-level salaries and turned to one another. “Dr. Rose asked, ‘what do you think?’” recalled Carr. “We agreed: This fits.”
Carr reached out to the HVAC sector navigator for more information. “He got so excited,” she said. “Someone in the audience was listening.” No other community college in the Central Coast region offered the training, so Gavilan College was ideally situated to offer the program.
Dr. Rose was joined by San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis. Guests at
the event toured the facilities and talked with faculty members about the program.
Research led to the Career Education dean at Laney College in Oakland and its successful HVAC program, and the colleges coordinated on curriculum. Carr also looked into the program at San Jose City College. “We discovered Jonathan Cronan, who helped with the work plan and was absolutely invested in establishing a successful program,” said Carr. Cronan has since joined the Gavilan HVAC faculty.
Space on a community college campus, always at a premium, was opening up. The Airframe Maintenance Program (AMT), housed in a section of the Multipurpose Building, was set to relocate to San Martin Airport in the fall of 2016. “We knew that space would become available,” said Carr. “We could convert that space for the HVAC program, and I knew it had to be there.”
As the long-term dean of Career Education, Carr earned a reputation of knowing where the money is and putting all the puzzle pieces together. This time, her efforts rebuilt the AMT program, managed its move and launched the HVAC program. To publicize the new center, she prepared packets of literature. “I walked into every single HVAC company in Gilroy and Hollister,” she said. Her goal was to promote the program and ask for support on the advisory committee. “From those visits, we recruited Chris Mabie and David Duerr as additional faculty.”
Gavilan Facilities Director Jeff Gopp, who had just finished managing construction of the hangar at San Martin Airport, turned his attention to renovating the now-empty area for an HVAC center. “This is big equipment, state of the art equipment,” said Carr. “He knew the equipment we needed, how to manage all the compliance issues, how to navigate California Division of the State Architect inspections.” Gopp located the architects, ordered the equipment, enticed building contractors away from Silicon Valley, and installation began last fall.
HVAC classes started with a soft launch, testing the viability of the program. “All of the faculty are totally invested,” said Carr. A fourth instructor, Gopp, was silent about teaching until the center was almost complete. “He is so excited and passionate about teaching in this program,” she said.
Prospective students could talk one-on one with professionals in the industry,
program administrators and faculty about the training program and career prospects.
Local industry response has been strong. “Every company I visited was asked to be on our advisory committee,” said Carr.
HVAC is funded by California State Strong Workforce annual funding. Graduates of the program can earn $22-40 per hour. HVAC technicians are trained in maintaining and repairing equipment in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Industry growth trajectory predicts adding HVAC tech jobs at a 15% rate through 2026.
“This program will be a success because of many people,” said Carr. “The vision of Dr. Rose, the commitment of faculty, and all the staff who helped in the development.”
Father and son Ramon and Cristian Lucatero attended the HVAC grand opening.
Ramon works locally in the HVAC industry and Cristian has enrolled in classes.
Special thanks to faculty Jonathan Cronan, David Duerr, Jeff Gopp, Chris Mabie. Additional thanks to Jan Bernstein-Chargin, Shannon Bishop, Katie Day, Lelannie Diaz, Cindy Gonzales, Lupe Lopez, Shawn Mulcare, Noemi Naranjo, Adriana Servin, Susan Sweeney, Jessica Weiler.
Thanks to the entire maintenance staff: Luis Ayala, Brent Boyd, Choe Chou, Arnold Guttirez, Sylvia Hurtado, Arturo Lara, Bryan Large, Jesus Loza, Francisco Orozco, Jaime Rincon, Rita Valvati, Rebeca Silva, Duane Stewart, Douglas Strother, James Zamzow.
Thanks to the entire business office staff: Jeanne Alamdari, Michelle Anaya, Diane Christianson, Margie Mastrini, Laura Montes, Marie Noriega, Connie Phillips, Christine Simas, Analisa Zanella. They processed a multitude of requisitions and ensured the funding moved forward to complete the project.
And a very special thanks to the entire MIS staff, who hooked up the computer lab: Kyle Billups, Eric Dietze, Ericson Estamo, Rebecca Isaac, Erik Green, Saul Salinas, Diana Seelie, Nick Yray.