14 Top HVAC Instructors

Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration is a growing field, so why wouldn’t someone want to invest in an HVAC or HVACR education? It’s a hand-on industry, allowing room for analysis, investigation and problem-solving. Customer happiness can also be its own reward, particularly when a residential a/c system in need of a simple fix can be functioning with a few hours. Students seeking an education in the industry will be exposed to a broad range of HVAC instructors who can help, instruct, motivate and inspire them. Some have years of experience in the field while others are involved in new or unique research at the university level. This list of top HVAC instructors introduces you to teachers from around the U.S. (and one from Canada!) who are involved in HVAC education and helping to inspire students toward success in HVAC and in some cases engineering.

Arturo James

Arturo James

Arturo James teaches at Austin Community College in, you guessed it, Austin, Texas, as an assistant professor in air-conditioning. What may be amazing about this instructor is not the broad range of classes that he teaches, which vary from Residential Air Conditioning to Gas and Electric Heating, but that he posts his entire teaching philosophy online. He notes that, as an instructor, a student's progress, welfare and concerns are his primary responsibilities. "For the student to succeed, I must be a teacher, a mentor, a coach, a motivator, and a good listener," he says -- not a bad philosophy for an instructor who has two associate degrees and one bachelor's degree under his belt.

Barb McQueen

Barb McQueen

Barb MacQueen

Barb MacQueen is an HVAC instructor employed at Vancouver Island University. MacQueen learned the HVAC trade serving in the Canadian military and working from coast to coast on equipment ranging from commercial freezers to domestic refrigerators and curling and ice skating rinks. She's taught at two other schools, starting an HVAC program from scratch at one, and is a gas fitter and a Red Seal journeyman refrigeration mechanic. (In Canada, Red Seal indicates a person has met a specific standard of excellence in their trade).

Bruce Pritchard

Bruce Pritchard

Bruce Pritchard

Showing that continuing education is important, Bruce Pritchard, an instructor at Charter College in Pasco, Washington, recently became a Certified Master HVACR Educator, receiving his certification through HVAC Excellence. Pritchard, who teaches all aspects of HVACR education at the school, has more than 25 years of hands-on experience to share with his students. He's worked in commercial refrigeration, residential, controls engineering and project management. Since he passed the HVAC Excellence Capstone Exam, which covers methodologies, practices and principles in technical education, he may be just the type of HVACR teacher students in the tri-cities of Washington are seeking.

David Dyer

David Dyer

David Dyer

He may have received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering as far back as 1966, but Professor David Dyer is no stranger to research and learning. He is a faculty member and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University, in Alabama, and focuses his areas of interest on HVAC design and optimization, boiler and steam system design, thermal and mechanical design, and an area that students may particularly find important in the HVAC field, safety. With others, his research over the years has included a national woodstove testing program and well as development programs for operators working in boilers, electrical systems and HVAC systems.

Doug Street

Doug Street

Doug Street

As a business owner, Doug Street, an instructor at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Elizabethton, may be able to relate to students interested in developing their own career or even opening their own business, as he has done with Street's HVAC Services. With more than 17 years of experience in the field, Street has various licensing and certifications, including HVAC Excellence Certification and his state LLE Electrical License. Students taking HVAC and refrigeration classes at the main campus of the school may be fortunate enough to have Street as the instructor in their HVACR classes.

Frank Garro

Frank Garro

Frank Garro

At Fort Wayne Ivy HVAC, Instructor Frank Garro knows what it means to start a career from the ground up. Years ago, he started out as a plumbing apprentice and within six years was running his own contracting business. He has now garnered more than 20 years experience in the trades, working on residential and commercial projects throughout North Central Indiana. Garro enjoys teaching students about the science behind HVAC Technology and has been renovating the lab spaces at the school's Technology Center so that students can experience better simulations of HVAC systems, including geothermal, solar and radiant heating technologies.

John Mitchell

John Mitchell

John Mitchell

Professor John Mitchell, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, could probably talk anyone under the table when it comes to heating systems. He has his PhD from Stanford University as well as his master's and bachelor's degrees from the university as well.  Students taking courses in heat transfer, HVAC and thermodynamics at the undergraduate or graduate level may be lucky enough to be under his tutelage. His specific areas of interest including the building of energy systems, energy utilization, and convective heat transfer and he has received numerous teaching awards and is a member of ASHRAE.

Mike Feutz

Mike Feutz

Mike Feutz

Mike Feutz is not just an associate professor at the College of Engineering Technology at the Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan, he also has associate and bachelor's degrees in HVAC/R that he then topped off with a master's degree in career technical education (obtained at Ferris) and a PhD in educational leadership. As if 12 years of teaching at the school doesn’t say enough about his professional experience, he also has a ton of industry expertise, including four years as a certified welding inspector, five years as a training consultant and 12 years as a sheet metal journeyman. Professor Ferris has received numerous awards, done multiple public engagements and is a member of ASHRAE.

Nicole Okamoto

Nicole Okamoto

Nicole Okamoto

It's not everyday that students get to work with a female professor who rocks the house in mechanical engineering, but that's the case with Professor Nicole Okamoto, employed at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. The number of grants and award she has received can be counted on more than two hands and the case is the same for the number of journal articles and conference proceedings she's peer reviewed. HVACR students may be interested to know that her research interests include electronic systems cooling, HVAC, and heat transfer.

Rod Fronk

Rod Fronk

Rod Fronk

At the Topeka, Kansas campus of WTI Vocational College, students may be fortunate to have Rod Fronk as their HVAC instructor. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities recognized Fronk, in 2013, as their educator of the year for retaining 99 percent of his students while employed at WTI and helping them toward success and achievement. Fronk, who has earned his EPA universal certification, master mechanical license and plumber with gas fitters license and is NATE certified, has been commended for coming in early and staying late to help students progress and even to improve their GPAs.

Said Dini

Said Dini

Said Dini

At Western New England University, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Said Dini is not only a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he is also the chair. With a PhD from the Illinois Institute of Technology, his areas of interest include HVAC systems, gas dynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer and solar energy, all of which might be of interest to anyone wanting an HVAC career or a deeper understanding in engineering. Professor Dini has a role in many mechanical engineering students' senior projects, acting as their faculty advisor.

Stephen Manbeck

Stephen Manbeck

Stephen Manbeck

Assistant Professor Stephen Manbeck teaches at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, in Williamsport, Pa., the same school where he once completed both a diploma in plumbing and associate degree in HVAC Technology. Of course, since then he has earned a bachelor's and master's degree in workforce education and development from Penn State University, but his students may also benefit from his extensive industry experience, which includes servicing and repairing residential HVACR systems as well as commercial and supermarket refrigeration over the years. His numerous certifications, including NATE Certification in oil furnaces and EPA Section 608 and 609 certification, are further proof of his skills.

Methodology

From trade schools and community colleges all the way up to four-year colleges and universities, students will find numerous HVAC instructors to inspire them toward achievement. When deciding on final candidates for this top HVAC instructors list, we looked at several criteria including:

  1. Academic achievement - Many HVAC instructors work in Departments of Mechanical Engineering at four-year schools and conduct research and study into HVAC systems while also keeping a busy schedule instructing and advising students.

  2. Lifetime experience - Of course, not all of the HVAC instructors on this list have master's degrees or PhDs, but they do have a life time of experience building and expanding their HVAC skills, and understand first-hand the challenges that can occur in residential and commercial buildings, and leverage that experience to educate and inform their students.

  3. Personal commitment - Several of these instructors have stories that show a deep commitment to working with and inspiring students toward success in the HVACR field.

While certain instructors on this list do not meet all three of these criteria, all have demonstrated that they go above and beyond to help prepare students for an HVAC career or for future research endeavors.

Barry Franklin

Before co-founding Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, Barry Franklin was a VP at a Silicon Valley software company, and is an investor in and advisor for Impellia. Barry believes that education and lifelong learning are paramount. Barry met his wife at Carnegie Mellon University and they have two beautiful daughters. He also volunteers for various committees at his kids’ high school.

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