Are Tech Students Prepared?



Often when I get into a conversation with parents about their children’s future, it is most often pointed toward a college or university that will provide the programs necessary for them to go out into the working world and be highly successful. I hear names like Harvard University, Miami University and Boston College.

However, I’m also hearing about other schools that have grown in popularity that teach about the many trades that are very familiar to us all. They are building, electrical, plumbing and HVAC programs, for example. In fact, a school in my area has excelled in many of these same areas, and it, too, is considered a college rather than a technical school. This college, New England Technical College located in Rhode Island, now also offers programs that meet all degree levels including the master’s degree requirement as well.

            Recently I along with several others had the opportunity to visit this college and I was amazed listening to the director of the HVAC program give an explanation of what is being done to prepare their students for what lies ahead in their professional careers. There was a great deal of emphasis placed on new technology, such as solar and geothermal system design and new electronic controlling devices.

He also made us aware that they have already begun to update their lab and we were given the opportunity to see for ourselves many of the latest updates. We saw some of the newest of equipment, such as a Low NOx boiler, that could obtain efficiencies into the 90 percent range, a new three pass boiler that is equipped with a management control system that could be functional with circulators, or zone valves, and with all plug and play electrical connections. This unit would also display an actual percentage of fuel savings that could be a minimum of 20 percent.

           I’m sure many of you have recognized that fuel oil companies have added other products to their businesses to help diversify their operation, one of which may be propane. This same college has also added updated gas training as part of their standard curriculum, and again I saw some of the latest gas units in the lab and some that I was not familiar with. I guess that’s because I have more fuel oil in my veins, so I’ve been told.

            I also found it interesting that this college has a focus group for every program offered. These groups are made up of both businessmen and trade professionals. Their purpose is to feed actual trade related information and requirements to the college department heads and instructors. In turn, the instructor’s goal is to educate the students so when they graduate, they will be better prepared to enter their specific fields and provide companies with a well prepared employee, who can bring additional profit to a company.

            I would like to reflect on a recent article about students needing a chance, and I ask the readers who may be owners or managers to give these students an opportunity to display their skills. I would also recommend taking time to visit a technical college in your area and you may be more than surprised to see and learn just how well prepared these students of our industries are.

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