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Northeast HVAC student headed to SkillsUSA national competition in Kentucky

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NORFOLK – A student in Northeast Community College’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) program credits the College for giving him the knowledge necessary for him to win a state competition and qualify for nationals.

“The HVAC program here at Northeast offers great courses and skill sets for any individual who wants to learn and work on this equipment,” said Clayton Craft, Hadar. He will use those skills as he competes in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Championship Conference in Louisville, KY, June 22-26.

Clayton Craft

Craft, a graduate of Pierce High School, qualified for the national event after his first place finish in the HVACR competition during the SkillsUSA Nebraska Leadership and Skills Conference in Omaha.

The annual SkillsUSA Nebraska Championships involved more than 1,300 students from 72 Nebraska chapters. During the state competition, students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. All contests were conducted with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations, and test competencies are set by industry. In addition, leadership contestants demonstrated their skills, including extemporaneous speaking and job interview skills.

Craft said, “During the competition, I took part in three written tests – one for Environmental Protection Agency rules on refrigerants, a general knowledge of HVAC and a test on electrical schematic readings.  For the hands on portion of the contest, I did sheet metal work creating a 90 degree elbow, wired a potential relay system and then worked on a soldering project using soft solder and silphos. We then had to pressurize and evacuate the soldering projects.“

Craft, a sophomore who will graduate Saturday from Northeast, said medical issues impacted his ability to do the work just a few years ago, but after putting in extra effort, he feels privileged to be to where he is today.

“I did not have the best of health in high school and in my first year of college due to Crohn’s disease, which held me back from doing events. I’m very glad and feel fortunate to be moving on to nationals in Kentucky.”

Craft credits his instructors, Paul Bailey and John Nelson, with giving him the knowledge to succeed.

“Paul and John are awesome teachers who care about seeing us further our education. They like to see each and every one of us strive and succeed in class and out in the real world. With the new Applied Technology building that Northeast Community College has built for HVAC and other programs, I have no doubt that this program will get better, and it will be downright cool to see all the new things they will be doing and working on in the new building.”

Bailey will accompany Craft to the competition in Kentucky.

SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Chapters assist students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations excel. SkillsUSA has more than 300,000 students and instructors as members.

Northeast Community College is one of the only institutions in the area to offer certification exams through the Air Conditioning Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Students receive 1,000 hours of lab time to practice what they learn in the classroom. In addition, they learn “go green” procedures that are environmentally friendly.

Students Northeast’s HVAC program study the physical, mechanical, and chemical principles of refrigeration and air conditioning, with emphasis on electrical controls and motors. They gain proficiency in blueprint reading, sheet metal construction, proper ventilation installation, heating and cooling diagnosis, and installation of residential and commercial equipment. The program prepares students for skilled positions installing and servicing electrical, heating, and cooling systems.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for HVAC technicians will increase by 21-percent across the country through 2022. 55,900 additional HVAC positions could become available during this time.

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Northeast HVAC student headed to SkillsUSA national competition in Kentucky