TMCC and Switch Partner To Receive Governor’s $149K Matching Grant Expanding HVAC/R Training

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Cooling Towers Image

Image of large cooling towers is provided courtesy of Switch SUPERNAP Data Centers.

There is a rapidly accelerating need for graduates trained in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) to staff huge data centers locating to Northern Nevada or expanding operations in the region.

“We have more than doubled our HVAC shop and lab, and have acquired new equipment and training aids,” said Jim New, Dean of Technical Sciences. “Switch’s SUPERNAP data centers are going to need more than 400 HVAC technicians. Their work will be in critical systems operations, and these ongoing positions are solid, long-term jobs. Switch partnered with us in applying for the STEM Challenge Grant.”

The Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology (OSIT) released on Oct. 28 the news that it is awarding $335,975 in STEM Workforce Challenge Grants to three Nevada community-based colleges: TMCC, Western Nevada College and Nevada State College.

Advanced manufacturing and information technology (IT) are high-growth industries in Nevada. For jobs in these fields, employees need to have training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and many of the positions require less than a four-year degree, according to a press release from the office of Governor Brian Sandoval.

“TMCC received a grant award of $149,435 that will facilitate the acquisition of training equipment and simulators for the TMCC Applied Technology Center and for the development of the new curriculum,” according to the Governor’s release. “Additionally, Switch will donate a cooling tower to TMCC so that students can work with the same equipment in the lab they would at Switch and will provide training to TMCC faculty.”

The grant-funded training program will begin enrolling students in the fall semester.

“The new curriculum will be in place by Fall 2016, but students can get a head start by enrolling in the introductory HVAC classes this spring,” New said.

“We are going to utilize the money in the first half of 2016 to update the program to include a focus on commercial heating and cooling,” New said. “We’re doing that in anticipation of the workforce demand created by the arrival of the Switch SUPERNAP Data Center. Computer servers and data centers generate significant amounts of heat and it’s critical to keep the facility cooled to prevent downtime.”

SUPERNAP will encompass a 6,487,241-square-foot, multi-building campus.

“The world’s largest data center will likely require the world’s largest staff of commercial heating and cooling technicians in a single location,” New said. “Switch guarantees its clients 100 percent performance.”

Data centers require a room temperature within a specific range for the large computers to work most efficiently. “The Cloud” is a term referring to banks of computer servers storing digital information.

“With the proceeds from the STEM Challenge Grant, we’re not only upgrading the program to include training on commercial equipment, but have also added curriculum specific to the skills needed in these data centers, such as basic information technology, customer service and water treatment,” New said.

TMCC offers HVAC/R programs

Students can earn a certificate or degree at TMCC in HVAC/R:

  • Certificate of Achievement, HVAC/R
  • Associate of Applied Science Degree in Construction Technologies, HVAC/R Emphasis

TMCC’s program emphasizes hands-on training and preparing students to receive industry-standard certifications that are sought by employers. Classroom instruction is combined with applied training as students demonstrate competency in residential and commercial systems.

“People typically think of data centers as needing employees skilled in information technology, but mega-buildings with arrays of server computers need air conditioning power,” said Randy Walden, Director of Technical Sciences.

Information about specific course numbers, sequence and requirements are posted on the Technical Sciences pages of TMCC’s College Catalog.

“For those skilled in HVAC technology, career opportunities will continue to grow at a very good rate in Nevada,” Walden said.

For more information about HVAC/R programs at TMCC, please call the Technical Sciences Division at 775-856-5300.