Terrence Scott, an HVAC instructor at Thomas Nelson, often schedules field trips for his students. Learning from a book or manual is important, but there’s nothing like on-hands experiences, especially in the trades programs.
Thanks to a donation of a pair of new AAON water-source heat pumps, made possible with help of Hobbs & Associates, Scott won’t have to schedule as many off-campus excursions.
“It helps tremendously because we don’t have any water-source units on campus. This is going to be really nice,” Scott said. “It’s going to engage the students.”
Scott said the units, which hadn’t been delivered as of late last week, will be set up in Room 313 of Hastings Hall, which is the HVAC lab. The benefits will reach more than current students, he noted.
“It’s going to help with recruiting, help with retention of students,” he said. “We are going to have students that are going to have an advantage when they go out in the workforce. … That’s going to look good for us, too. The employers will say, ‘They are really training you guys very well at TNCC.’”
Hobbs & Associates was founded in Virginia Beach in 1984, but has offices throughout Virginia, including Richmond, and Tennessee. It provides heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products and engineering services to commercial and industrial contractors. David Jordan, the company’s vice president, said the credit goes to AAON, which engineers and manufactures HVAC systems and is one of Hobbs & Associates’ manufacturing partners.
“They came to us with this opportunity,” Jordan said.
Jordan said technology in the water-source heat pump industry hadn’t changed much in about 20 years. But AAON, in the past few years, has redesigned its units. It has built up a large inventory, and wants to get the word out about its new product.
“They came to us at the end of last year,” Jordan said. “They knew that particularly the institutions that train our future technical workforce were the ideal proving grounds to create a great awareness.”
As of March 2, more than 40 state-of-the-art new water-source heat pumps (total estimated cost of $65,000) had been shipped to more than 15 schools in the VCCS.
“We are fortunate, and I’m fortunate, to have worked with and have known some of the leadership of the Virginia Community College System for a number of years,” Jordan said. “I believe so strongly in your mission, in your foundation, and the educational opportunities and the value of that for our young people today. It was a real quick call for me to make, and to extend this opportunity.”
He said the donation is great for AAON, as well as Hobbs & Associates.
“The biggest challenge that our industry has, being the contracting community as a whole, is replacing the amount of skilled labor that we’re losing,” he said.
The VCCS is the perfect pipeline for both companies.
“As I sent in my email (recently) to your leadership, ‘Please enjoy this equipment, put it to good use so I can come hire your talent once they’re done because we need some more good ones,’” he said. “It’s an opportunity of feeding those that feed you.”
Dr. Susan English, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Thomas Nelson, said these relationships are crucial to the success of the College.
“We strive to train and credential talented students for employers such as Hobbs & Associates,” she said. “It’s partnerships such as this that allow our students hands-on training with relevant equipment.”
Scott agreed, saying this helps the College’s goal of becoming the premier training center on the Peninsula in the HVAC field.
“There’s not a lot of young people entering the field so we want to have some good start-of-the-art equipment so when the students come to class they’re working on what’s out in the field,” he said. “The main goal is to get these young people some good paying jobs that they could retire from.”