Dallas College News Update


HVAC student Stephen Preston completes a lab assignment.

Media Contact: Debra Dennis; ddennis@dallascollege.edu

For immediate release — Oct. 18, 2022

(LANCASTER, Texas) — Let’s face it. When the heat is off during the winter or air conditioning fails during the long, hot summer, you want a skilled, dedicated technician to fix the problem. And with weather extremes bearing down on Texas all year, the job market for HVAC techs is at an all-time high.

To meet the need to cool and warm buildings year-round, and to account for a rapidly accelerating construction industry in North Texas, Dallas College is expanding its HVAC program for skilled laborers who can outfit new buildings as well as new homes with climate-control systems. And to this end, Dallas College has developed relationships with workforce partners in construction to assure that HVAC students are “enrolling in a career.”

Cedar Valley’s HVAC program will be celebrated on Oct. 20 with a grand re-opening to highlight the school’s expansion into commercial training and to showcase its mobile training unit that will allow the campus to offer access to the community. The opening takes place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the H Building.

Stephen Preston is among the students training at Dallas College Cedar Valley Campus who hopes to answer the call. After enrolling in the school’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology program, he quickly realized he had the choice of working for himself or joining a company.

“My aunt works for Cedar Valley, and she encouraged me to find a job that means something — something that treats you like family — more than just an employee,” Preston said. “There is networking in HVAC. You talk to people, and you realize that HVAC offers something different every day.”

Stephen Preston (left) gets help from Cedar Valley HVAC instructor Jorge Tovar.

​​Preston said he marvels at the chance to choose a variety of specialties in HVAC. “You can be a salesperson, or you can own your own business or become a private contractor,” said Preston, who is currently learning installations. “I’ve learned so much that I’m thinking about engineering. I want to go ahead and get my four-year degree. I love troubleshooting, the checks and balances,” said Preston, who has an associate degree in science from El Centro Campus.

“I’ve always wanted more,” Preston said. “I love this program. It’s given me so much direction, and you have to be sure about what you’re doing. I consider myself a doctor of air conditioning units. Instead of fixing people, I fix air conditioners.”

His skills, he said, will work in any aspect of HVAC. He likes a career that ensures comfort, efficiency and healthy living. But he is also thinking long term about his life and career options and may pursue a degree in engineering.

HVAC Program Expands Into Commercial Sector

Student Stephen Preston works in the Cedar Valley HVAC lab.

Dallas College is expanding its residential program to include commercial air conditioning and refrigeration technology.

Both programs take about two years to complete the requirements for an associate degree. Cedar Valley, along with Dallas College Eastfield Campus, have turned out hundreds of HVAC technicians into the workforce. Still, the demand for more trained, educated and certified workers, particularly in the commercial sector, is growing, according to Ivory L. Armstead, program coordinator at Cedar Valley.

“We nurture students along until they get a handle on things, and they can go either residential or take the commercial track,” said Armstrong.

With an aging workforce that is retiring out of the field, the need for HVAC technicians is destined to grow. “It’s a good field. The trajectory for these students is unlimited,” said Armstead, who has taught at Cedar Valley for 15 years.

Moses Martin, another Cedar Valley HVAC student, agrees. He sees the program as a second chance to revisit a career he embarked on more than 40 years ago.

“When I was a young man, I had a job in air conditioning and refrigeration, so life is kind of repeating itself,” said Martin, 64, who enrolled in Cedar Valley following a stint in prison. “I’ve come a long way to get back here, and I chose Cedar Valley and figured the career has come back into my life for a reason. I like troubleshooting, and I’m ready to do this again because I have the confidence to believe I can be successful. You don’t learn everything in class. You have to get out there and do it.”

He hopes to be paired with a local contractor when he graduates next year.

Dallas College Training Helps Both Grads and Business Community

Dr. Joseph Seabrooks, president of Cedar Valley, said the program places the college squarely in a community that needs lucrative, long-term career opportunities.

“The level of training that will be provided in the space will not only be a game changer for our graduates but for the industry as well,” said Dr. Seabrooks. “This facility is a manifestation of Dallas College’s commitment to align the needs of the business community with the available talent in our region. Commercial HVAC is just one illustration of what our community can expect from Dallas College in the near and distant future.“

At Cedar Valley, students have access to and are taught on state-of-the-art labs provided by top brands like Carrier, Trane and Goodman. Proper cooling and maintenance are necessary to prevent critical equipment failure. Humidity, temperature and airflow must be maintained.

HVAC is among the Dallas College programs that ensure higher education and workforce training are attainable in all surrounding communities, including the southern sector of Dallas County, said Gloria Smith, vice chancellor of workforce training at Dallas College. Dallas College has focused its workforce partnership initiatives to address pressing employer needs, Smith said. “Technicians can earn wages that will sustain them. This career comes with industry credentials and offers a gateway to advancement,” she said.

Degree plans include Associate of Applied Science degrees in either Commercial Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology or Residential Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Each takes four semesters to complete. Dallas College also offers certificates in Residential Technician.

Dallas College is a member of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the largest air-conditioning organization in the United States.

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