3 National Competitions for HVAC Students

hvac school competitions

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HVAC students participate in both classroom and practical training as part of their curriculum. Within a hands-on vocational training program, opportunities for demonstrating newly acquired technical knowledge are plentiful. But did you know that some HVAC organizations offer competitions for HVAC students? These competitions are hosted by independent organizations and allow students to enter for various cash prizes, recognition and other rewards. Entering these competitions can be a great way for students to showcase what they’ve learned in HVAC, gain valuable experience that may translate to future work positions, and stand out as an excellent candidate for employment. Finally, these competitions also serve to encourage leadership in the HVAC community while providing a sense of teamwork and recognition for HVAC students.

Three HVAC competitions dominate the field across the U.S.: the nationwide SkillsUSA HVAC Competition, the ASHRAE HVAC Student Design Competition, and the Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contests held by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. An understanding of each contest’s entry requirements and testing categories will help HVAC students select which competition to enter.

1. SkillsUSA HVACR Competition

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry professionals with a mission to improve the quality of America’s skilled workforce by helping students excel. There are a variety of competitions designed for students of all different technical trades. The HVACR competition assesses student skills by HVACR industry standards. Students who enter the competition are expected to perform a variety of tasks on several HVACR units, which may include ice machines, small package HVAC units, split-system AC and heat pumps, geothermal heating systems, refrigerated display cases, or any other HVAC application. The deadline to register for SkillsUSA Arizona is the beginning of March. Interested students may already wish to begin preparing for next year’s competition.

Students are judged on the following skills:

  • Brazing
  • Troubleshooting
  • Electrical Troubleshooting
  • Electrical Troubleshooting, A/C
  • Airflow, Superheating, and Subcooling Measurement
  • A Written Test on Refrigerate Procedures

Furthermore, students must ensure their dress code meets requirements outlined within the scorecard, as it constitutes 20 points out 100 for the competition total.

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2. ASHRAE Student Design Project Competition

ASHRAE is an organization that aims to advance the fields of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration for a more sustainable world. The Student Design Project Competition offers HVAC students the opportunity to compete in designing a thorough HVAC system for a given facility. Some of the tasks tested in this competition include selecting an HVAC system for the facility and designing a sustainable HVAC system. The HVAC System Selection component of the competition may be of interest to students enrolled in RSI’s Refrigeration Technologies program.

The requirement to enter the HVAC System Selection portion of the competition consists of completing a presentation, including 15-minutes of automated visual media and a 35-page technical report in PDF format. The contestant who wins first place will receive $2,000, free transportation, two nights in a hotel, and a $100 bonus for expenses at the 2016 ASHRAE Winter Meeting in Orlando.

3. PHCC Plumbing and HVAC Apprentice Contest

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association is an organization dedicated to the advancement and education of the plumbing and HVACR industry for the benefit of society and the environment. PHCC offers a Plumbing & HVAC Apprentice Contest for applicants to demonstrate their skills. The 2015 competition will take place from September 30 through October 2 in Hollywood, Florida. This contest will grant 15 HVAC applicants a chance to present their HVAC skills for recognition. Students can find the application materials needed to participate in the contest here. HVAC students will be judged in the following areas:

  • Demonstrating brazing techniques
  • Checking a system for proper pressure, detecting the presence of leaks, and engaging a vacuum for a given system
  • Demonstrating recovery processes
  • Performing a full evaluation of a given system, including measuring static pressure, capacity, and airflow
  • Repairing a given unit
  • Completing a written test

Good Luck!

The competitions offered through SkillsUSA, ASHRAE, and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association allow HVAC students to show off their expertise and compete for recognition and awards. Each contest has a specific set of criteria and rules for entering, and it’s up to students to make sure they meet these conditions. Students who are currently enrolled in or are interested in HVAC training may wish to utilize the skills and knowledge acquired to enter these HVAC contests. For more information about technical training, contact RSI any time.

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