This article originally appeared in the April 2014 print edition of IMPO. 
Coyne College is a Chicago-based trade school that’s been teaching HVAC and other vocations for more than 110 years. Student services, from tutoring and career development to job placement assistance, are structured to enhance career preparation by addressing each student’s unique needs. IMPO sat down with Phil Rizzo, an HVAC instructor at Coyne College, to discuss the biggest advancements in HVAC technology, and how to address the skilled trades gap.
Q.   What would you consider to be the biggest changes and advancements to HVAC technology over the last few years?
A.    Integration of computer controls and monitoring software and hardware.  These changes are making it more important for the HVAC technician to get the proper training needed to keep up with the advancements in the industry and create an all-around better, more efficient technician.
Q.   What should technicians keep in mind to ensure HVAC systems are running at peak efficiency?
A.    Two of the most important things to keep systems operating at peak efficiency are cleanliness and airflow. A dirty HVAC system and/or obstructed airflow can lower efficiency and even stop units from running. Preventive maintenance and annual cleanings will help ensure maximum efficiency.  
Q.   Does Coyne College see a skills gap in the area of commercial HVAC installation and repair? If yes, how is your organization working to increase interest in this trade?
A.    There is a skills gap in commercial installation and repair, and Coyne College is constantly reviewing its curriculum to ensure that it is providing the best available training in all areas of HVAC education, be it commercial or residential.  We offer commercial refrigeration training on ice machines, coolers, and chillers in our diploma program, and our degree program gets into building automation control systems like the Trane Tracer Summit, demonstrating how buildings are controlled through computer programming, which can be controlled from almost anywhere computer access is available.
Q.   What is the best way for businesses to keep technicians current and up to date on the latest equipment trends and requirements?
A.    Very simply, continued training. Keeping technicians up to date on the latest technologies will provide a  better understanding of the equipment and better quality repairs and installations. An educated technician will be able to troubleshoot and repair equipment quicker, thus increasing productivity with less frustration, which is what happens when you try to repair equipment without understanding its technology.  
Coyne offers diploma and associate degree programs in a variety of fields including heating, air conditioning and refrigeration, electrical/electronics, and healthcare. 
To learn more, visit or call (800)707-1922.