Faculty Connections: David Wadella

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Meet David Wadella

David Wadella is the first instructor that most new students will meet when they start at The Refrigeration School. David teaches the first phase, the Fundamentals of Electricity class. David is from Dayton, Ohio, but he moved to Phoenix 20 years ago looking for construction work. He’s been teaching at RSI for two years, but he came through the school as a student back in 2001.


David Wadella - HVAC/R Instructor at The Refrigeration School

When did you start in HVAC David?

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I have 20 years experience in the field. I started laboring, basically carrying another man’s tools, learning the industry from the bottom up. I started on demos, carrying out old units and worked with a senior technician on new installs. Then I gradually got to the point where I wanted more.

The senior techs I worked with had all gone to RSI. They all told me that the best way to progress would be to go to RSI and get my certification. They said that I’d been working around this equipment all this time, it was time to find out exactly how it worked. I see people like that today, not a large percentage, but some who’ve been working out in the field and are fed up of not knowing how the equipment works.


What can new students expect from the first phase?

Let me start by saying I like to call them craft members, not students. I respect the skills and talents they have before they get here. They aren’t children, and one of the things I like to focus on is that everyone brings some kind of skill set with them. I respect that, and we share those with one another. I don’t care if you picked up dog poop for a living there are still skills in that; they had to talk to customers and they had supplies to buy… No matter what level they’re at, they’re bringing something to the table.

I tell the groups that one of the most important things you can do is communicate with each other, not just the instructors, to add to your experience at the school. We try to break down the barriers to make it an interactive environment. If I can get them bouncing ideas and questions off one another, like a pinball, then that makes for a better learning experience. We can all learn something from each other.

So we basically dust them off, explore the skills they are bringing, and then we show them how we make money. We expose them to safety, the fundamentals of electricity, and we start getting them involved with troubleshooting the electrical circuits in air conditioning units.


As a boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a good worker. I didn’t have much of a choice. I started in the labor force at 12 years old hand feeding metal into presses for $2.10 an hour. I loved every minute of it, and at that age I thought I was raking it in! Why I fit in here, and what I’ve learned from my time at RSI, is that I’m just like the men and women I stand in front of. We like to work with our hands and figure things out. That’s a common bond we all have at here. We’re not college people per se, we’re the fix-it people I guess.


Tell me something that most people don’t know about you?

I like to draw Snoopy cartoons. But that hobby comes into play in my teaching too because we use a whiteboard to draw circuits on. The way I was taught is that if you can draw it, you can wire it up. With today’s technology, we’re all connected up to time clocks. That’s how you get paid. But what happens if a server goes down and the tech isn’t available? Work still goes on. You still need to be able to legibly show what you intend to do on paper, so someone else in the process can interpret that and create an invoice if you want to make money. If you can draw it, you can wire it up – you’ll hear that a lot around here.

What’s your favorite music, book and movie.

My favorite book is Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. I like all types of music, but I like music that creates a mood. I’m an old rock and roller at heart, I like Ted Nugent. There’s one song that has the lyrics “We’ll do it again, again and again”. And guess what? That’s what I do in the classroom; practice, practice, practice, again, again and again! Just like the drawing, it all ties back in. When it comes to a movie, let’s say the Blues Brothers. It’s funny, musical and silly – it makes you laugh!


If you could choose to have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Jesus Christ. I want to learn more about him. I like the example he set and I want to be like that. I know I can’t be, but I want to try.


Take a moment to tell us about your family.

Tracie and I have been married for 22 years. We have two daughters. Kasie is 27 and Samatha is 22.


If you weren’t a teacher and money was no object, what would you do?

I’d pretty much do what I’m doing now, and give back to the community. I’d help people by doing repairs in my craft. I’d like to think I’d stay where I am and keep contributing to society. What I do is a great platform to give back. I try to inspire people to be the best that they can be, to be honest and truthful with themselves and others, and do accurate work so we don’t harm others or create unsafe situations.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to new students who are just starting out?

The foundation work that you’ll do at a trade school like RSI can be applied to anything. If you build your basic knowledge and skills, they can’t be taken away from you. You’ll have those forever. Somebody can steal your tools, but they can’t steal your skills if you have a trade.

What’s your favorite part of the industry?

The satisfaction of doing a good job and hearing a unit turn on, and knowing that it’s working right. It’s about mechanics, doing an accurate diagnosis, and solving a problem. And if you’re a personable person, the satisfaction of getting a “thank you” from the customer is great too. I think that’s what drives most of us that come here – the hum of a unit working right.

What’s your favorite tool?

I’d say a reliable multi-meter. The analogy I’d use is it’s like a doctor’s stethoscope. Basically we’re looking into a closed, hermetically sealed compressor which has an electrical motor in it. The multi-meter allows us to look into these devices and see how they’re performing.

If you were to tell one person “Thank You” for helping you become the person you are today, who would it be and what did they do?

My father Stanley. He lives over in Mason, Ohio. He gave me a fantastic work ethic – “do it and do it right” he would say. He worked in electronics, but when I was growing up he did plumbing and remodel jobs – anything and everything – to keep food on the table. Obviously I was on the job with him, and that’s where I got my work ethic.

You get an unexpected afternoon to yourself, what would you do with that time?

I live in Phoenix, Arizona, so if it wasn’t too hot I’d walk my dogs. I have three English Bulldogs. The largest is 82lbs, and they snort and slobber everywhere. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t sleep without hearing that noise!


What super power would you like to have?

Unlimited knowledge. I don’t know if that’s a super power, but it would always be great to know more!

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