April 2008
Interview
AutomatedBuildings.com

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EMAIL INTERVIEW  Chris Hickman & Ken Sinclair

Chris Hickman, Building Automation Control Specialist

Chris has been active in the HVACR industry for 30+ years. Currently, Chris is working for a school district servicing over 100 buildings at over 70 campuses. His job title is Building Automation Control Specialist. He is a certified Tridium Systems' Administrator and a Quality Assurance Examiner for D.D.C Controls. He is currently doing quality assurance controls work for a 131 million dollar bond project. He has also recently completed the quality control commissioning

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HVACReducation.net

HVACReducation.net works with industry experts to provide challenging and comprehensive online education, online assessments and online technical reviews to the HVACR industry.

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Sinclair:  Who is HVACReducation.net?

Hickman:  HVACReducation.net offers outstanding online education programs specifically for the HVAC/R industry. We offer complete, comprehensive, online education programs that meet the industry standards and are recognized by NATE, AHRI, RSES, HARDI, ACCA and more.

Sinclair:  What is your Mission?

Hickman:  Our focus is student centered success combined with exceptional customer service. HVACReducation.net works with industry experts to provide challenging and comprehensive online education, online assessments and online technical reviews to the HVACR industry.

Sinclair:  What is the new Control Series being offered this spring?

Hickman:  The new Control Series offered by HVACReducation.net consists of a collection of courses that together focus on providing entry level knowledge for new Direct Digital Control (DDC) Technicians. Often, HVACR Technicians are thrown into the DDC world without the foundational knowledge of Controls, especially of Automated Controls. This short program is just what they need.

Each course is accessible 24/7 and is mentored and self-paced to fit into the students’ busy schedules. Students complete one course at a time and then move on to the next course in the series. They also have access to a subject matter expert--a mentor--who is available via email to guide the learning process and answer any questions students may have along the way.

The program starts with the fundamentals of Building Controls and then works through general and DDC networking knowledge. Next, it is on to Control drawing fundamentals and a simulated Graphic User Interface (GUI) to practice troubleshooting. In the fall, students will study courses on basic DDC Programming logic and Energy Management strategies. Course descriptions are below:

Sinclair:  What is included in 151 HVAC/R Controls I?

Hickman:  This online course is not so “fundamental,” but is where you start when just dealing with Controls. A good understanding of common HVAC systems is a prerequisite for this course. This course is NATE recognized for 18 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) applicable to NATE recertification. Module topics are:
• The Building and HVAC Systems
• Air Circulation and Air Quality
• Control System Characteristics
• Process Characteristics and Control Systems
• Control System Components
• Control System Categories

Sinclair:  What is included in 152 HVAC/R Controls II?

Hickman:  This course is an introduction to the primary concepts that lead to the predominant Building Controls systems, DDC and all its variants including Energy Management. This course is NATE recognized for 18 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) applicable to NATE recertification. Module topics are: |
• Psychometrics
• Pneumatic Control Basics
• Pneumatic Controls
• Electric Controls
• Electronic Controls Fundamentals
• Microprocessor Based/DDC

Sinclair:  What is included in 153 HVAC/R Controls DDC Networking 1?

Hickman:  This course is designed to introduce HVAC/R Technicians, and others involved in the HVAC/R industry, to basic networking concepts and terminology. This course will help those desiring to work in the building automation field, to establish a strong foundation of standard network terminology and concepts. The main topics for the course are identified below:
• Introduction to Networks
• OSI and Other Network Models
• Taking It from the Topology
• Stringing It All Together
• Transporting Data
• Network Addressing

Sinclair:  What is included in 154 HVAC/R Controls DDC Networking 2?

Hickman:  This course is designed to introduce HVAC/R Technicians, and others involved in the HVAC/R industry, to Direct Digital Controls networking types, concepts, and terminology. The main topics for the course are identified below:
• Control Drawings
• DDC Controller Fundamentals
• DDC Systems Architecture
• BACnet
• Open Systems and LonWorks Platform
• Specifications

Future course offerings will include 155 HVAC/R Controls DDC Programming Fundamentals and 156 HVAC/R Controls User Interfaces and Energy Management

Sinclair:  Who are the developers and instructors for the control series?

Hickman:  The three Developers, and also Instructors, for this series of courses are Bob Recko, Clement Lee, and Chris Hickman.

Chris HickmanChris Hickman
Chris has been active in the HVACR industry for 30+ years. Currently, Chris is working for a school district servicing over 100 buildings at over 70 campuses. His job title is Building Automation Control Specialist. He is a certified Tridium Systems' Administrator and a Quality Assurance Examiner for D.D.C Controls. He is currently doing quality assurance controls work for a 131 million dollar bond project. He has also recently completed the quality control commissioning on the controls part of a 3 year, 5 million dollar energy performance contract.
Chris is a member of the Technical Communication Society, RSES, and CARE. He has the EPA Universal Certification and is a licensed HVAC Technician by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. He is also NATE certified in air conditioning and heat pumps. Chris has developed and implemented preventative maintenance and training programs for various industries. He also has an Associate of Science and B.S in Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University.

Clement LeeClement Lee
Clement brings over 20 years of System and Network Administration for a Fortune 100 corporation. He has a BA in Accounting and Computer Information Systems, and a Master’s in Computer Information Technologies. Over the last couple years, he has been working on Building Automation for a school district in Colorado which has better than 70 individual campuses and over 100 buildings. The Colorado school district uses LON, proprietary protocols, and the Ethernet network to communicate with its boilers; roof top units; chillers as well as geothermal and air-to-air heat pumps. He has developed coursework and taught at several colleges. He is our expert in the Computer Systems.

Robert (Bob) ReckoRobert (Bob) Recko
Bob has been with HVACReducation.net for eight years and serves as Senior Online Instructor. Bob has over thirty nine years in the HVAC/R Industry including 30 years in the classroom, with the insight that only experience can deliver. Starting out at the Northeast Institute of Industrial Technology in Boston, MA with a Certificate in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, he spent the first eight years working for Westinghouse Electric as a Refrigeration Technician. Sensing a need for further career opportunities, Bob worked towards Certification by the State of Massachusetts as a Vocational Instructor and began his first teaching position in HVAC/R at Bay Path Vocational High School in Charlton, MA. In 1986 he started a Post Secondary HVAC/R Program at the Worcester Technical Institute in Worcester, MA. After 13 years at WTI, he is now building another new program at the Worcester Technical High School, which like WTI is part of the Worcester Public Schools.

Bob has also been very active in developing online content for professional development in his home school system and several of the courses here at HVACReducation.net. He has also been very active in teaching HVAC/R programs for local Adult Education as well as for many local industry organizations such as NEACCA and NAOHSM.

Sinclair:  What makes this Control Series different and unique from other educational programs?

Hickman:  Until now, most Technicians learned the business from someone else’s perspective. Control Contractors sell a certain manufacturer’s product to a company or institution. Then training is based on that specific product. Now technicians have options.

This series is designed to educate technicians about the industry-wide fundamentals of controls without being limited to any one manufacturer’s product. We provide a variety of real world examples and explain them with objective, rather than proprietary, terminology.

We also hope to empower technicians and building owners with the knowledge to truly make their systems open and competitive among contractors.

Sinclair:  How can a Controls Contractor benefit from sending their new Technicians to this series of courses?

Hickman:  This series of courses provides training in the basic fundamentals of DDC. This is training that most Control Contractors don’t have the time or resources to spend on new Technicians coming into the Industry.

Also, HVACReducation.net specializes in helping new students to get started in the Industry. We take the time to go the extra mile, helping a student establish the foundational knowledge and skills that they need to begin.

Sinclair:  What are some of the expected outcomes from these courses?

Hickman:  Most experts in the industry will tell you that a good Controls Technician is hard to find. This is very true for a few reasons:
1) Primarily because of the extreme amount of abstract thought required. You can’t see data bits traveling down a wire.
2) Because of the large amount of experience that is required to recognize the peculiarities of the various HVAC systems.
3) The industry doesn’t really use uniform terminology. With this new approach to education, technicians will be able to find common ground to communicate. And communicating with your peers is good for technicians, customers, and employers!

We teach the foundational skills that will allow a Controls Technician to be their best. We also believe that this series of courses will assist employers to identify those rare talents that are needed by a Controls Technician before they invest a lot of time and money into training a person.

These are just a few of the benefits that students and employers can expect from this unique online program. Open education is going to help open DDC systems to truly be totally open and competitive.

If you would like to learn more about this or any of our other HVACR educational programs or courses, please visit www.hvacreducation.net

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