COD Students Win HVACR Contest Hosted by the Chicago Pipe Fitters Local Union 597
By Mike McKissack
College of DuPage HVACR students Mike Pagliuco and Matt Clemons earned first and third place, respectively, in the third annual Vocational/Junior College HVACR competition hosted by the Chicago Pipe Fitters Local Union 597.
Open to vocational, private and junior/community college HVACR students, the contest included a general HVACR industry knowledge test, a wiring project and a basic practical piping/soldering test. The top three students were awarded cash prizes, received plaques and will have their names added to the Local Union 597 perpetual plaque.
First place winner Pagliuco said he was thrilled with winning the competition.
“I spent hours practicing wiring and brazing in the days leading up to the competition and felt confident I was going to win,” Pagliuco said. “In the first ten minutes of the competition I was anxious but I overcame the nerves and anxiety and felt I did great work.”
Enrolled in COD’s HVACR program since fall 2015, Pagliuco spent the previous five years as a prep cook in corporate kitchens before being inspired to pursue a different career path by HVACR stationary operators who worked in his building. A resident of Glen Ellyn since he was 6 years old, he is currently pursuing Facility Maintenance Mechanic associate degree and works for COD as an HVACR student lab tech.
Pagliuco said competitions like this one are important and helpful to students in a variety of ways.
“By competing with other students, you can see where you stand next to the competition,” he said. “It can show that you can hold your own or that you need to work harder. For me it was a huge confidence boost. It’s also a great way to get your name out there. Even if you don’t win, the very fact that you competed shows employers that you’re passionate about what you’re doing and you’re confident enough to compete.”
HVACR Program Coordinator Bob Clark said he is proud of the students and their achievements.
“COD students have taken first place at this prestigious competition two out of the last three years,” he said. “This is a great opportunity that provides program recognition from one of the biggest and best training halls in the country.”
Pagliuco credits COD, particularly its instructors, with providing him with the skills and knowledge to begin a new career.
“When I enrolled at COD I had no experience and no knowledge in HVACR whatsoever,” he said. “In a little over a year I’ve learned so much and feel I have the knowledge to start my career now if I wanted. I owe it all to COD’s HVACR instructors. Bob Clark, Chris Lexow and Terry Buckley, to name a few, are not your standard teachers. They go far beyond teaching the curriculum. They turn you into an asset that employers will fight over. This is why our school is the best and that’s why we won the competition.”
He added that the College’s facilities were first rate.
“The HVACR lab at COD is incredible,” he said. “It has the equipment to cover all areas of HVACR, including residential units, rooftop units, residential and commercial boilers and even a chiller. One of the most impressive parts about it is that students installed almost everything.”
Pagliuco said he is thrilled with his experiences at COD.
“I love this school and everything it’s done for me,” he said. “Coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I would recommend COD to anyone.”
The HVACR program at College of DuPage provides students with the theory of refrigeration, air conditioning and heating, electrical circuitry, control equipment, and system design, as well as hands-on experience a state-of-the-art lab on cutting-edge equipment. Students can choose from a variety of certificates, including Energy and Analysis, a Service Technician and a Stationary Operator certificates, as well as A.A.S. degrees such as Contractor, Service Technician and Facility Maintenance Mechanic.
Click here for more information about the HVACR program at College of DuPage.
Pictured: Left to right: HVACR instructor Terry Buckley, Matt Clemons, HVACR Program Coordinator Bob Clark, Mike Pagliuco and HVACR instructor Chris Lexow.
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