Teaching with the Best

Technical College Students Get Hands-on Training with State-of-the-Art Beacon Control System

When John Chemsak needed a new refrigeration system for the HVAC classes he teaches at Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL) in Beaufort, South Carolina, he sought equipment that he liked working on when he was “in the field.”

“When you’re purchasing something with state or federal money, you owe it to the taxpayers to be smart about how you’re spending their money,” said Chemsak. “The funds for this equipment came from a federal Perkins grant, and I try to keep the dollars in the state, so I called Bill Rathbun at Johnstone Supply in Columbia.”

Rathbun, according to Chemsak, has been a solid resource of information and support for the HVAC program at TCL. Chemsak’s experience in working with Heatcraft Refrigeration Products and Rathbun’s guidance regarding optimum features led to the decision to purchase a combination cooler/freezer, two evaporators and condensers and a Beacon control system.

“When you’ve had good luck with a manufacturer, it sticks with you,” added Chemsak. “Heatcraft Refrigeration has well-made, quality units and they have a great selection of features. The Beacon control system is really state-of-the-art for our industry. We need the most current technology to teach with because that’s what our students will use in the workforce.”

“The most current trend is in the area of energy efficiency, and that’s why we went with the Beacon control system. It represents the best of energy efficiency in the refrigeration industry.”

When Chemsak retired from the Marine Corps after 21 years, he enrolled in TCL, where he earned his associate’s degree. After working several years as a NATE-certified contractor, he returned to run the program that enrolls approximately 120 students every semester. TCL, located in Beaufort, South Carolina, serves 10,000 credit and continuing education students who are a mix of part- and full-time high school seniors, graduates and individuals retraining for the workforce.

In the HVAC classes, Chemsak uses a combination of theory-based classroom instruction and hands-on work in the Industrial Technology labs where the new equipment is located.

When TCL took delivery of the units, Chemsak had the Advanced Refrigeration class assemble the products every week as part of the curriculum. Within the span of the semester and during class time, the 17 students put the box together, hung the evaporators and got all other components in place, with final assembly scheduled for the summer.

“When these folks get out in the field they will have had the experience of complete installation of a new product. That end-to-end opportunity is invaluable in the contracting world. The ‘book learning’ is important, but to have that practical application of following a manufacturer’s instructions helps them understand how important it is to be methodical, execute the right way, and have a great work ethic,” he concluded.