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Learning HVACR Part 2

Last week I made some points about becoming an HVACR technician and deciding on enrolling in either a private, for-profit trade school or a college that offers a state-sponsored, more academic program.  One way to look at these two types of programs is their approach to guiding you through a learning experience, and I’ll consider that point by using the example  teaching someone the skill of riding a bicycle.

For the most part, if you wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle and decided to attend a private, for-profit school to accomplish that objective, it’s likely that after enrolling and spending a class session in the morning getting information on the safety issues, and what to expect as far as accomplishing the skill of balancing on two wheels, you would then head for a lab experience after your lunch break where your instructor would give you your first hands-on lesson on riding a bicycle. Your first lab experience would likely begin with your instructor demonstrating how to accomplish your first assigned hands-on task on a stripped-down model or mock-up of a bicycle, providing more necessary information about the safety issues, and then giving you an opportunity to try it for yourself.  That’s not to say that you would be a skilled rider after only one short session in the lab.

Your only activity in this first lab sesson might involve only practicing going in a straight line in a very controlled indoor environment for short trips with an instructor pretty much glued to your side to make sure that you didn’t hurt yourself or others, or damage the equipment you would be using . And, with each subsequent class/lab day, you would be afforded the opportunity to understand more about the process of riding a bicycle from a functional perspective, covering whatever theory information the developers of the curriculum decided you need to know, then head for the lab again for more practice.

Once you successfully completed your trade school education, you would be an entry level bicycle rider, which means that you would qualify for a job under that definition. What that means is that you still need field experience and exposure to more types of bicycles (and situations regarding these specific bicycles) than you had the opportunity to work with during your tenure of a given number of hours in training at school….probably accomplished on a weekly schedule of about 30 to 35 hours per week, meaning you attended on a schedule similar to a full-time job…. between your lab and classroom experiences.  

Another way to look at this situation is that even though you have practiced in a controlled environment at school, you haven’t yet actually ridden a bicycle in real live traffic, dealing with all that goes along with that, so before you can be a revenue-producing entity for whoever hired you as a bicycle rider, you’ll need to hone your skills so you can be proficient at bicycle riding and not make mistakes that can cost money, alienate customers, or create a dangerous situation situation that will need to be corrected by somebody else.

If you chose to attend a more academic-based institution program, your experience would differ in several ways, and similar in others. First, your schedule would likely not be daily attendance, but instead, you would only be in class on two or maybe three days in a week and those class sessions would be less than two hours.

Second, you would not likely be introduced to the hands-on portion of your training on the same schedule as your trade school experience. Your certificate or degree program may require that you complete courses on basic aerodynamics so you will have a complete understanding of balance and what holds your bicycle up when you’re riding it.

Your pre-requisite requirements for enrolling in an upper division class on bicycle riding may also include basic metallurgy so you would be able to identify problems that could come about due to metal fatigue of your bicycle frame if it is not ridden according to operating specifications, or it’s used in an environment that creates a lot of wear and tear. Or, perhaps a course in the fundamentals of rubber manufacturing and air pressures applied to vehicle tires would be required so you would have a complete understanding of the pneumatics of your equipment and how tire wear affects the ability of your bicycle to operate safely and correctly.

Further into your learning experience, you would work with mock-ups or stripped down versions of bicycles so can develop your riding skills and practice what you need to know so you will quailify as an entry level bicycle rider. Which, like I said above, means you need to rack up the field experience before you’ll be a full-fledged bicycle rider.

Which program should you attend if you decided bicycle riding was what you wanted to do?

Well….and, I’m guessing you already know what I’m going to say here…..that’s up to you. Once you look at all the details of each program, and the institiution, etc….make a decision that’s right for you.

More next week….

Learn from yesterday…….Live for today……Look forward to tomorrow.