Brad Everly and Lane Ivester, air conditioning technology instructors at North Georgia Technical College, are both graduates of the college's air conditioning technology program, so they know first-hand what the experience is like.
If you ask them what makes the program stand out from others, their first response will be the family atmosphere that was created by fellow air conditioning technology instructor Glenn Jordan.
"He kind of made sure there was almost a family aspect to the program," Ivester says of Jordan. "We got out of the program and went to work and Glenn would actually call our employers and check in to see how we were doing, how we were progressing."
That family atmosphere is still in place today. Students aren't just kicked to the curb after graduation, Everly says. In fact, it's the opposite. Instructors in the air conditioning technology program keep in touch and provide any guidance and support a graduate may need as they navigate the early years of their careers.
The program, which offers an associate's degree, in addition to a diploma, takes most students four semesters to complete. During that time, they'll receive a mix of classroom and hands-on instruction.
"Here in the state of Georgia, if you're right out of high school and you do the diploma, it is pretty much 100% covered through multiple grants and multiple scholarships that are available," Everly says. The college also offers dual enrollment for high schools, so there are a few different routes.
Those interested in internships can participate in a 15-week long, 4-credit internship to work with a local employer and that employer helps grade them, Everly notes.
"We have a team of advisors that come from all different aspects of heating and air, and a lot of those companies come in and they speak to our students, they scout our students, and we recommend our students," Everly adds.
The instructors recommend students start working with the company part-time when they are halfway through the program.
In order to further prepare students for life on the job, Everly and Ivester have a list of basic, intermediate and more hands-on skills that they want students to learn and be able to replicate prior to graduation. Some of the basic skills include the ability to hook up gages and the proper way to remove gages.
While the HVAC field is male-dominated, women are welcome and there's been an uptick in interest.
"I will say this, one thing we are starting to see more females coming into the program," Everly says. "They are some of our best students."
Last semester, a female-owned company came to the college and hired both of the program's females, he adds.
Those interested in the HVAC industry are in luck. The demand is high in the state of Georgia, Everly adds, so the opportunities are endless.
For more information on the air conditioning technology program at North Georgia Technical College, or to apply, visit them online.