Saturday, October 17, 2009

Teaching the Virtual Generation

Do you have students from the “virtual generation”? These are young people who are very bright, have great hand-eye coordination, but have never used a wrench because an increasing amount of their existence is online. They talk with their friends, do research, play games, and generally “live” online for a large part of their time. Studies have suggested that this actually improves their mental agility and problem solving skills, both valuable assets for service technicians. Unfortunately, their exposure and experience with real life tools and mechanics is limited to non-existent. HVAC/R mechanics rely on their tools for survival. It is not possible to install, service, or troubleshoot HVAC/R systems without tools. Having the correct tools for the job and knowing how to use them can be the difference between success and failure. That is why Fundamentals of HVAC/R devotes an entire section of the book to tools. The units in the Tools and Equipment section are:

Unit 9 Hand and Power Tools
Unit 10 Screws, Rivets, Staples, and Other Fasteners
Unit 11 Electrical Measuring and Testing Meters
Unit 12 Refrigerant System Servicing and Testing Equipment
Unit 13 Heating system Servicing and Testing Equipment
Unit 14 Calibration of Meters and Instruments

These units provide an overview of the tools used by technicians who perform HVAC/R work. The units are filled with high quality, full color photographs of the tools and equipment. These units not only show the tools, but also provide illustrations and descriptions showing how the tools are used. This is particularly important for more unusual tools. For example, the use of a duct stretcher is shown in Unit 9. Yes, there really is a tool called a duct stretcher!

One student confessed to me after he graduated that he had never held a wrench until he took my Air Conditioning class. What he didn’t know was that it was fairly obvious. The good news is that his innate intelligence and strong work ethic allowed him to overcome this and go on to be successful. We gave him lots of shop projects requiring tool use. We monitored, corrected, demonstrated, and advised as he progressed towards tool competence.

Before he graduated he took a job as a helper for one of the best refrigeration mechanics in town, who also happens to be a patient man. You see, the mechanic had cancer, and his ability to perform the physical part of the job was declining. The student became the hands and arms for a gifted mechanic. In the course of a summer became proficient at using tools. He has now been with that company for two years and loves his job and the people he works with. If you have bright eyed, eager students from the “virtual generation” show them how to hold a wrench, give them lots of shop work to practice their tool use, and be patient with them. They could end up working with the best mechanic in town.

No comments:

Post a Comment