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Pickens Technical College offers students more than a typical classroom experience. In fact, PTC instructors often go above and beyond for their students to offer them just that—experience. PTC courses give students the chance to learn by experimenting and working in real-world scenarios so they can apply those experiences directly to their new career when they graduate.

The Heating and Air Conditioning Service Technology Program at PTC is a shining example of what experience can do for a student headed into the professional world. Instructor Wayne Blackwell, a 20-year veteran of the HVAC industry, is always on the lookout for new internship opportunities for his students. These internships are fully sponsored by PTC and provide school credit for real-world experience. Blackwell devotes his class time to both teaching his students HVAC repair theory and to working with professional HVAC contractors on real projects.

PTC is part of the Aurora Public Schools network, which allows it to offer students unpaid internships at several businesses for school credit. Blackwell himself says he reaches out to HVAC contractors in the area and invites them personally to take part in the internship program. He also has connections with the local HVAC workers’ union that can help find opportunities for students to gain real-world experience.

Blackwell starts every course with a speech that always ends with “Your success is my success.” He explains he does what he can for every student to give them the opportunity to succeed in a career as an HVAC worker. “I cannot create the real world,” he says. Hands-on experience complements the theory he teaches in the classroom. PTC offers internships in many specialized HVAC fields such as residential, commercial, industrial, geothermal, and refrigeration.

Last school year, the Heating and Air Conditioning program at PTC boasted a 66% job placement rate for its students, in part because of Blackwell’s encouragement of students to participate in internships. He says that about 80% of his students take advantage of internship opportunities, and that last year, every student in his class completed it. The Heating and Air Conditioning program also offers EPA and Industry Competency Exams certification for current professionals as well as students trying to break into the industry.

With Blackwell’s connections and PTC’s overall dedication to bringing the real, professional work of their courses as close to students as possible, odds are you can find a great career in the HVAC industry after you complete the course. Many students have gone on to use their internships to earn a contract working for a major company and to eventually make a large salary as a professional, full-time HVAC worker. Blackwell frequently invites these professionals who have gone through his program and taken advantage of the internship opportunities there to speak to his current students about how they reached high levels of success by taking advantage of the resources right here at PTC.

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